215 | Angel Investing: Closing the Equity Gap for Women with Terri Hanson Mead

Terri Hanson Mead



Welcome to episode 215 of Love, your Money! In this episode, Terri Hanson Mead joins me to talk about her experience as an angel investor.


Early in her days as an angel investor, Terri noticed that more than 90% of VCs were men — and nearly 50% came from the same two universities. In 2017, Terri started Class Bravo Ventures, a firm focused on startups that expand the power and influence of women.


In today’s episode, you’ll hear Terri talk about why she started — and stopped — angel investing. You’ll also hear about why demographic issues affect the success of startups, how to evaluate companies for investing, and the unique challenges women face in angel investing.

Here’s what you’ll find out in this week’s episode of Love, your Money:

  • An angel investing overview
  • The skewed demographics of angel investing
  • Why some VCs miss the big picture
  • A financial breakdown of Terri’s angel investing
  • The financial considerations of angel investing
  • Lessons from Terri’s first angel investment
  • The unequal pressures on women in the investing world
  • How to evaluate a company to invest in
  • Fixing the low success rate of angel investing
  • Using your money to improve the world

Inspiring Quotes

“I think we need greater diversification in the investor population. Money is power. Right now, the power is in the hands of a select few who are making all those decisions.”

“I'm a little bit concerned about how sexy the world has made angel investing seem. I think we really need to see some significant changes with the financial market to make it so it's a little less sexy because it's quite a bit of a gamble. At least find a way to get funding into the hands of the founders, entrepreneurs, and business owners to do the good work in our world.”

“The people who have the decision-making power — the check-writing power — within early-stage investing are the ones who decide what exists in our world.”

“A lot of companies that seek out angel investors are not necessarily good angel or VC-backable companies.”

“Lack of education is the root of all evil and education is a solution to that.”

Enjoy the Show?​

Hilary Hendershott: Welcome back to the Love, your Money podcast with me, Hilary Hendershott. Today I’m interviewing a very impressive woman named Terri Hanson Mead about her experience with a thing called Angel Investing.


In today’s conversation she’ll share with you how she came to be in a place in her life where she and her husband decided she’d spend a few years out of her biotech career doing angel investing and some of her own outcomes from doing that. Terri really had this multi-faceted experience because as you’ll hear her describe, part of her intention in taking it on was really to produce new opportunities for both female founders, and for female investors. It’s a great conversation and I’m really honored Terri would join me.


I’m popping in here at the top of the interview with some high level thoughts about angel investing itself. First of all, angel investing is something you can take on if you’re an accredited investor, but I’m not here to recommend it. You should know that, so far, the biggest body of evidence we have says that you are likely to lose money in angel investing. Trying to get scalable companies off the ground is no small feat and generally angels should expect that 80-90% of their portfolios will go to zero. That means total principal loss. For me, that’s not the kind of investing experience I want and it’s not what I have my clients do. So, while I recommend listening to this conversation – and you are going to hear Terri share about the outcomes she experienced that ultimately soured her on the activity – please don’t take this conversation between she and I as a recommendation that you go try this.


So without further ado, here Closing the Equity Gap for Women with Angel Investing with me and Terri Hanson Mead.




Hilary Hendershott: Alright. I have with me here today, Terri Hanson Mead. Welcome to the show, Terri.


Terri Mead: Thanks for having me. It’s fantastic to be on here.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. I’m excited to see you. Terri is the award-winning author of a blog called Piloting Your Life, and she’s an advocate for women through all of her other platforms. She is an angel investor or maybe currently she describes herself as a former angel investor. That’s what we’re here to talk about, focused on investing in startups that expand the power and influence of women. She’s based in Redwood City. She’s the mother of two college-age kids. And in her spare time, what else? She flies helicopters around the San Francisco Bay area. So, I’m excited to chat with you today. Why don’t we just get started? How did you get interested in angel investing?


Terri Mead: Oh, it’s interesting. So, I’ve spent the last 25 years working in and with biotech, medical device, diagnostic, and digital health companies. And about eight years ago, I got tired of bashing my head against the arrogance of science because I am all about leveraging data and technology to optimize business performance and get to market faster. And Life Sciences tends to be a little bit behind the times and doesn’t necessarily appreciate technology. So, I was talking to a helicopter pilot buddy of mine and I was like, “I need to be doing something different,” and he suggested that I look into angel investing. And what I didn’t really realize at the time was my dad many years ago, he was the first check into TriNet and he was an angel investor, but really didn’t share with me that this was something that I could do. We’ve been investing in stuff over the prior 20 years and so we were accredited investors but I just didn’t even know this was something that I could do. It wasn’t something that I was encouraged to do. But when Stu suggested it, I thought, “Let me just go ahead and check it out.”


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. And so, for the folks who are listening, who maybe don’t know really what angel investing is, how would you describe it? I sort of think of it, angels tend to do the seed rounds and then if the companies get big enough, VCs take over, or tell me how you think about that.


Terri Mead: The way that I look at it is that VCs or venture capitalists invest other people’s money into startups at various, various stages, whereas angels, we invest our own money. It was probably assumed that way back in the day or early on that angels only invested in the early, early stage. So, there is usually a friends and family round, which is a smaller round. And then there were pre-seed, seed, post-seed, peach seed, mango seed. I mean we have all of these different seeds and I know all these different seeds now.


Hilary Hendershott: So, a fruit orchard happening.


Terri Mead: Anything that will help it grow. So, the assumption was that angels were really in those early stages and that later there would be more institutional money in terms of the professional investors or the VCs. What we’ve seen over the last ten years is really kind of the democratization of angel investing or investing into startups. And so, I’ve invested into Series A. I’ve invested into Series B. In fact, one of my first checks might have been into a Series B, which would not have been really available probably a long time ago. But the whole dynamics have changed because now you have institutional investors or VCs investing in very early stages so that they can then get access to opportunities at earlier stages. So, it’s really become really just kind of a big mess now.


Hilary Hendershott: It’s kind of a free for all.


Terri Mead: It is. It is a complete and total free for all.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. You know, one of the things that I think is really interesting is that if you watch Shark Tank, you may get the idea that investors are there to select through their skill and wisdom the companies that were already going to be successful. But if you look at it, kind of reverse the role or reverse the perspective there or there’s a lot of reason to think and say that, I mean, companies need capital to be successful. So, in many ways, VCs and investors in early-stage companies are changing the landscape of what’s available. They’re in many ways effectuating the world.


Terri Mead: Yeah. That is one of my big frustrations and why, as you said in the intro, I’m pretty much a former angel investor at this point. My checkbook isn’t large enough to affect the change that I think we need to see, especially right now in this economic downturn. Yeah, 92% of the VCs as of a couple of years ago were men, and 47% or 48% of them came from two different universities. So, basically, you’ve got a large male population making the decision on what gets funded in the world, which means they get to decide what is in the world. And that’s been one of my really big frustrations. It’s one of the reasons why I started my podcast, Piloting Your Life, five years ago, how I got to write my book, Piloting Your Life, in 2019, and why I get up on a platform every time I can or on my soapbox to encourage women to invest, to encourage non-cis-gendered, heterosexual white men to invest so that we can affect what gets produced in the world, what gets funded.


95% of the world was designed by and for men. I mean, we can think about seatbelts, we can think about crash test dummies within vehicles. The healthcare system that is largely designed for healthy white men. I mean, there are so many different things that, the people who have the decision-making power, the check-writing power within early-stage investing are the ones who decide what exists in our world.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. And so, is that what attracted you to it? Was it to express yourself, simply said, as an activist?


Terri Mead: No. Actually, that didn’t come in until later because I really didn’t know how out of balance it was. You know, being in life sciences for so many years, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was in a bit of a bubble. And I actually got to the point where I was embarrassed going to cocktail parties and not knowing who the PayPal Mafia, who the founders of Google were, who a number of people are, that so many people in this very tech-centric world, a lot of people knew and I didn’t because life sciences is its own special little world. It’s been a very lucrative world for me but it’s one that I would go and I’d feel a little bit left out of what was going on in the rest of the world around here in the Bay Area. I got into it because I needed to figure out where I can add value, where I can have fun, what I could do as a consultant. I’ve been consulting for 18 years at this point. At that point, it was ten years and it was like I needed to figure out what my next step was. And so, I thought angel investing would give me an opportunity to learn more, get exposed more.


And what I fell in love with actually was the learning. I loved learning about new things. It’s one of the reasons why I love consulting is that I get to learn things in one place and apply it in another place. And that’s what I got to do in angel investing. I could not learn enough fast enough to understand not only what the market opportunities were, what the competitive landscape was for potential investment opportunities but also to see how I could then potentially bring some of that technology back into a very old-school, slow-moving from a technology perspective in life sciences. Once I saw what the makeup of the investors were, how the women were treated specifically by the investors, then I think I became more of an activist and then realized that I really needed to make a difference, not only with building a platform, but also encouraging other people to vote with their pocketbooks, to make decisions on who got funded every day, not just in our investments, but where we shop and have those dollars be more aligned with our values from a human perspective.


Hilary Hendershott: So, it started that you wanted to bring technology into life sciences and then quickly became a more gender advocacy role for you.


Terri Mead: Absolutely. I was able to see very quickly and hear very quickly because I listen to a whole bunch of podcasts because angel investing is hard. It is a super steep learning curve. To do it well, you really need to be immersed in it a lot. I got to the point where I took a little bit of a break from my consulting and I was doing it about 40 to 50 hours a week unpaid. So, I was taking a little bit of a break because I thought, if I’m going to do this, I need to do this well. I’m going to be taking our money that, well, my husband would save my money because my husband stayed home with the kids for 12 years while I worked. But we would be taking our money and investing it into a very risky asset class. I mean, it has the potential for some big upside, but it’s pretty risky, especially when you’re investing at the early stage. And when I came to find out investing as an angel investor at the early stages, there are some decisions that are made later on by the founders and the later stage investors that make it very difficult to make a lot of money as an angel investor, which I wrote about in a blog post. You have a follow-up on that?


Hilary Hendershott: I mean, at the end of the day, when an entrepreneur, when an executive team becomes successful and may have an exit, they want to get paid. They aren’t necessarily loyal to their investors, which is, I think, something people don’t really realize when they get into it…


Terri Mead: They also get pressured by later-stage investors who are going to be writing significantly bigger checks. And so, while they may want to reward the loyalty of early-stage investors, if they want to grow, if they want to get to a meaningful exit, which is why a lot of them were doing it, then they are unduly influenced by the later stage investors and the terms that then tend to supersede the earlier terms that may have been more beneficial to the earlier stage investors. So, when I was jumping into it and I was listening to a lot of podcasts and trying to read books and articles to learn as much as I could to be a good investor, I realized it was the white bro show and it was all of the same people in the same room, and it was this echo chamber, and I thought, “None of these people represent me. I can’t relate to their experiences.” And I realize that there are a lot of people out there who cannot be it if they can’t see it. And I think that was my wake-up call to when I decided to get a lot more vocal and be a bigger advocate for those that didn’t look like that small percentage of people representing.


Hilary Hendershott: Interesting. And so, I want to go back to something you mentioned earlier, and then I want to ask you about how you and your husband thought about your family financials but you mentioned things changed for you when you saw how female entrepreneurs were treated by angel investors. Can you give us a couple of examples of that that you remember?


Terri Mead: Oh, my God, it was horrifying. So, in my first two years as an angel investor, I was with Sand Hill Angels, and within a year I was on the board. I was responsible for deal flow and partnerships with VCs because we put the early money in but we had to have relationships with the VCs to make sure that we could pass those deals off for the next round to other investors to get additional checks. And there would be pitch events or the founders would come in and pitch to us as a group. There were very few women who were a part of the group and the women would get up there and there were so many men in the room who would ask questions to make themselves look good and make the founders feel very, very small. And I often wondered about that whole dynamic. But there was one example in particular. It was a husband and wife, and the wife was the CEO, but it was a co-founder so her husband was also there. And they had a device for the kitchen where this was when these were all very, very popular, where you could set it up in the morning, have it set with a timer or control it with an app so that when you got home, you actually had a hot, healthy meal, which it’s important when you have two busy working partners or you have a family and so you’re busy parents trying to feed, etcetera.


And one of the guys said, “I don’t know why people need this. I don’t need something like this.” Now, mind you, this guy was probably 60, 65. I don’t think his wife had ever worked. They probably had some additional help within the house, people who were helping with the shopping and the cleaning and the food prep and everything else. And he couldn’t practice what I call radical empathy to understand that somebody else might have a different lived experience.


Hilary Hendershott: It doesn’t actually seem that radical but, yes, I think for him to understand that some people have families where both partners work.


Terri Mead: And I’m like, how can you be a good investor if you can’t imagine that somebody else might have different needs from your own? But that was when I had discovered the concept of radical empathy. And I can’t remember the author who coined the term but it was like imagining that there might be someone who has a different lived experience from your own. And I saw a couple of times where some of the investors in the room asked just completely tone-deaf questions. And I realized that the way that they asked the questions was tone-deaf and it was also very belittling to the founders who were presenting, especially if it was women. And I also saw that the questions that they asked the women were really more defensive and less about seeing what the opportunities are, less about seeing what the bigger vision was to really fully understand what the opportunity was versus the way I saw them treating the men.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. I have seen such things. So, in the beginning, you said you’d give angel investing two years and $55,000. So, what’s the total tally of your time and investment when all is said and done?


Terri Mead: $300,000 and I think 22 investments and the 300,000 were checks written to companies either directly as part of Sand Hill Angels, as part of syndicates, or into actual VC funds so that somebody else can put our money to work. In addition to that, there was a significant amount of travel meetings. I went to Helsinki twice for Slush. I sponsored my own investing tour in I think it was June of 2018 when I went to Europe. I went to Paris, Tallinn, Estonia. I spoke at an event in Berlin and I went to Nice largely because here in the Silicon Valley it’s very easy to become very myopic and think that innovation only happens here when innovation happens everywhere. And so, getting outside of this bubble is incredibly important. It got to the point where I actually stopped investing in Bay Area-based startups because it just got to be too expensive and too competitive. And I wanted to invest in problems that were being solved by people outside of the Bay Area because we are a funky little bubble.


Hilary Hendershott: Well, diversification is a good thing. So, share with us what you’re willing to say about how you and your husband thought about, for example, there’s the opportunity cost of you not working but then there’s the $300,000 that you invested, all of which it could have gone to zero. It is not unthinkable that that principal would have been lost. So, how did you make sure that you had enough financial wiggle room to do that?


Terri Mead: Well, we had been pretty savvy about putting away money and setting aside money. My husband, very early on, we realized, I had greater financial earning opportunities. I’m a lot more ambitious than he is. And also as a former accountant, financial analyst, I just paid more attention to this. And so, when we kind of split up our roles and responsibilities, he basically was like, “Well, if you think we can afford this, if you think this is the right thing for us, then you have my support 100%.” So, there weren’t really many conversations about it beyond that. I would share with them some of the investment opportunities and I would just say, “Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about this?” He’d ask some questions but for the most part, he’d be like, “I have to defer to you. You know, if you’re comfortable doing this, then I support it 100%.”


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. But then for yourself, so then what you’re saying is you being the financial analyst in the marital team, you looked at the nest egg that you had in 2015 or whenever you made this decision. I think I have the year right.


Hilary Hendershott: And you decided, “I can lessen my earned income and do this for a while.” I mean, it’s essentially you’re sort of part-time retired from a financial perspective.


Terri Mead: It was more of a slingshot type of thing where I had to take a step back financially and with some of my work in order to be able to spring forward, which is kind of how we saw it. We saw it as an investment of my time and an investment of our financial resources that could potentially catapult us further from a financial perspective. I felt like I was really stuck in a hole with the consulting that I was doing in the space, and we both agreed that it would be my real-life Ph.D. So, rather than me going back to school to get a doctorate, that this was in essence my real-life Ph.D. So, I wouldn’t say that I was retired. I would just say that I was taking some time to educate myself to figure out what the next opportunity was going to be. I mean, we did take a financial hit, obviously, in doing that, but hopefully, some of those investments don’t go to zero based on the last funding round for all of them. And I update our financials on a monthly basis so I know exactly where we stand at the end of every month and then take a look at our cash forecast for the next year so I can see what we’re up to. If we’re ever going to be able to retire at 53, that’s kind of a question when I’m expected to live another 50 years and I have two kids in college.


Hilary Hendershott: Thankful to the life sciences but longevity is a problem for finance.


Terri Mead: Longevity is a financial problem. It’s a financial problem but it’s one that I’m actively working on. Based on it, hopefully, one of them looks like it’s going to cover our initial investments a couple of times over. So, hopefully, that plays out but we’ll see. We’ll see how that one goes. So, it wasn’t really a retirement. I would say that right now I’m kind of in the middle of an accidental midlife sort of sabbatical, which I’m kind of exploring and going to be doing a little bit more writing about, largely because I’m continuing to refine and retool my consulting. So, one of the things that I just see that that break from my consulting allowed me to reposition, learn more, and kind of re-strategize the work that I wanted to be doing. And I’m back again in a similar position. And it coincides with the end of my angel investing, whereas the other one was the beginning of my angel investing.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. So, you haven’t necessarily, I mean, you published the article I saw about why you decided to stop angel investing, I think, in March of this year. So, it’s only been about 60 days, right?


Terri Mead: Yeah. It hasn’t been very long.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. So, let’s talk about the logistics of making investments and to see ground firms. Were you intimidated to make your first investment? What was that like?


Terri Mead: Oh, I was intimidated by the whole entire process. You know, I walked in the room. I was like, “Who am I among all of these supposedly successful people?” Very quickly, I saw that the emperor did not have any clothes for a lot of them. My first check in was to a company called MyHealthTeams. It was a $10,000 check. One would expect that I should have been more intimidated. I probably should have been a lot more thoughtful about it but as with a lot of things, sometimes I just have to go for it, rip the Band-Aid off in order to be able to move forward. I think if I had spent more time analyzing and thinking about it, I probably wouldn’t have written the check. The company is still around. The company is still doing really, really well. I don’t expect an exit for a couple of years on that one. Economically, it’s just a really strange time, and I don’t see many exits for the next two years.


But the thing about angel investing, as I said earlier, it’s a very steep learning curve and you only learn by doing. You can read all the books, you can listen to all the podcasts, but until you do your first one or your second or your third or fourth, the knowledge builds up. There are so many terms. There’s so much not even just about the company you’re investing in but the nature of the deal, the terms of the deal. Is it a convertible note? Is it a safe? Is it a pre or post-valuation safe? Is it a priced round? What is it? And then there are all sorts of specific terms that are in there that vary from deal to deal. So, I probably should have been intimidated, but I was really excited about the team. I was excited about the opportunity. And even though they say, “Wait a year until you make your first investment as an angel investor,” I basically went to my first meeting as a Sand Hill Angels member, saw MyHealthTeams and said, “I need to invest in this company.”


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. So, just so people have a sense of what the experience can be like, you made that investment in 2015 and no real idea like it maybe a couple of multiple exit but not anytime soon. So, in essence, nothing has been repaid to you at this time from that particular investment?


Terri Mead: That is true. Of the 22 investments that I have made, I made one investment in 2017, I think, that company got acquired I think in 2019. I got my money back on that. I’ve had one other investment that I made last year which I asked them to do a dollar buyback on because I wanted off their cap table. I don’t think they’re going, actually I know they’re going down fast, so I lost money on that one. There’s another one that my second investment from November of 2015 that company was acquired by another company and there’s a revenue share situation with that. I probably will not get my full investment back, but who knows, because I get a little bit every year. And then there’s one other company that I think is going down but otherwise, all of the other investments that I have made have not realized any sort of return.


Hilary Hendershott: Okay. Okay, good. I mean, not good but thank you for giving us the landscape of that. Look. I mean, I think the idea of angel investing or investing in seed-stage companies is very aspirational for people. It’s exciting and I just think it’s important that people get a real sense of what it actually looks like on the inside. So, one of the things I thought was really interesting was you wrote that, first of all, male investors passed off female teams to you without even considering investing in those companies and then that those females would expect free work from you, support probably emotional and financial, and if you didn’t give it, they told you you don’t support women.


Terri Mead: Yeah. That was actually really, really tough and it got exhausting. There was this expectation that as a woman investor that I build the ecosystem not just for women, but for non-white men. So, black people, brown people, gay people, there was this expectation that I’d be a part of building it, building the opportunities, making the introductions, supporting the companies, whereas my white cis-gendered men counterparts didn’t. There wasn’t the same expectation from them. And I really didn’t realize that until I was at an angel summit playing poker with some guys. And one of the guys talked about his experience and he got to just go to events, get pitched deals, make decisions on deals, and then write checks and be done. He wasn’t expected to help support the company, build the company, make introductions, help strategize, be the shoulder to cry on. There was one call I got from a founder in the bathtub. I hadn’t actually invested in her company, but she was dealing with some major sexual harassment from a potential investor, and she was calling to ask me what to do. I don’t think I will ever forget that horrible, horrible call. Yeah. The women – let me take a step back.


Hilary Hendershott: What did you tell her to do? What was your advice to her?


Terri Mead: Well, we had to talk through it because her company was on the brink and we had to talk through what it meant to not take that money.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah.


Terri Mead: Because she was going to have to take the money. If she took the money, it was going to be on some pretty gross terms and if she didn’t, there was a possibility her company would not be around the following month. And we talked through it and she ended up deciding that not all money is created equal and not all money is worth it. She ended up finding some other investors that were more aligned and so she was able to walk away from that but it was really, really very tough. As for the other men investors who would just pass stuff off, yeah, they would get sent a deal or a pitch a deal and there was a woman involved they would be like, “Not mine. We’re sending it to Terri.” This happened at Sand Hill over and over again and even after I left the team.


Hilary Hendershott: Goodness.


Terri Mead: Yeah. But somehow, just because I’m a woman, I know everything and can help everyone. And I liked helping. As a recovering people pleaser, I would want to say yes but over time, as my reputation grew, as more people knew what I was investing in, then it got completely overwhelming to the point where I resented every single email coming because it was always a request for help, request for a check. And no matter how gracefully I tried to respond and say, “Hey, I’m really busy or limited on this or I’m not investing in that,” there were a couple of women who got pretty nasty and were like, “I thought you helped women.” And I’m like, “I do, but I can’t help all of them. I don’t have Melinda Gates’ checkbook.”


Hilary Hendershott: Right. I mean, I’m not here to incinerate money.


Terri Mead: Well, there’s that, too. I mean, I still have to fund our lifestyle.


Hilary Hendershott: Right. Very interesting and disheartening. And reminds me, actually, I’m surprised this is the first time since I first read your article that I’ve thought of, you know, I just happened to I don’t read all Tim Ferriss’s emails, but he stopped angel investing. And he said similar things about how the activity just mushroomed into something he could not and would not manage. He just said, “It seems like if you do a little bit of it, it can take over your whole life and there’s no way to like in an organized fashion to mitigate that.”


Terri Mead: I can’t even imagine with Tim Ferriss’ notoriety, I imagine the requests would be absolutely overwhelming. And I think there would be the expectation that he’s a big name, probably has a much bigger, he has a much bigger checkbook like, “Why couldn’t he just put $25,000 into my company? What is it? Who does he think he is that he doesn’t see that what I’m doing is so fantastic?” I imagine that there are some people who think that way. And really what it comes down to is a lot of companies that seek out angel investors are not necessarily good angel or VC backable companies. So, we talk about really how difficult it is to be a very educated, knowledgeable angel investor. It takes a lot of time because you need to understand the financial aspect of it, the legal aspect of it. You also have to understand the competitive landscape of a particular company, the market opportunity. Are these the right people? I mean, there’s so much that goes into it.


Hilary Hendershott: For a $10,000 check.


Terri Mead: Well, I think my average check ended up being closer to $15,000 to $25,000 at the end of that but a lot of them were looking for much larger checks, $50,000 to $250,000 checks. The seed/pre-seed rounds went from $500,000 to $3 million to $5 million. I mean, it got exponentially crazy. And at the same time, you’ve got a whole bunch of founders who think they have startups that are going to have humongous exits that somehow warrant angel investors. And so, you talked about how sexy this has become. Everybody thinks they have a VC bankable, venture investable opportunity, and they’re not all going to have humongous returns. So, it’s the pressure. So, even if I would practice radical candor and give feedback with love and say, “Hey, I think maybe you should look at some alternate financing. I think you’re going to have a tough time getting subsequent rounds of investors, largely because the exit opportunity really isn’t big enough to attract VCs who are accountable to their investors, who they’re limited partners. You know, you might want to look at something else,” and that wasn’t always taken kindly.


Hilary Hendershott: What’s the average age of entrepreneurs who are pitching you would you say?


Terri Mead: Oh, my gosh. I couldn’t even give you the average age. Well, probably somewhere between 35 and 45, I think.


Hilary Hendershott: That’s older than I thought you were going to say.


Terri Mead: Well, I mean, there were a lot in their twenties, but I also intentionally sought out older founders, largely because I like to invest in experience like I would go to 500 startups events where there are 20, 21, 22-year-olds who have these huge ideas with no previous work experience, and they would somehow get people to invest in them. I’m like, they have no track record, and I just wouldn’t invest in people who didn’t really have some sort of a track record minimum of having a job out of college.


Hilary Hendershott: You would think. You would think. So, I’m trying to think how I would ask one of my final questions. So, most free markets sort of naturally develop pretty well, pretty effectively with competition and ingenuity, like things tend to turn out in the free market. For the most part, there’s externalities but that’s not the point. So, this market kind of didn’t turn out that great. The whole how entrepreneurs who need capital funding to get started go to investors, as you’ve described, angels and VCs, no diversification. If you could wave a magic wand, what does this activity need to do to fix it?


Terri Mead: Well, I think we need greater diversification in the investor population. It can’t skew 92% male VCs with, as I said, 47%, 48% coming from the same two colleges and the majority of the money coming out of Silicon Valley. It’s just so skewed. Money is power. And right now, the power is in the hands of a select few who are making all those decisions. So, to wave a magic wand, I would change that power balance and make it so that there’s a more equal spread, a more equitable spread of the capital. So, then the decisions that are made on what’s being funded in the world are really more representative of the makeup of our population and our needs within our society.


Hilary Hendershott: It sounds like what I’m working on in financial services it’s very similar.


Terri Mead: Yeah, 100%. You know, money is power. It’s shifted.


Hilary Hendershott: Money is power when it comes to because businesses eat time and money. So, he or she who has more money has more possibilities. So, Terri, now you’ve got your Ph.D. What’s next? What’s next for you? What are you excited about now?


Terri Mead: Well, I’m excited that we’re recent empty nesters, so we are trying on a more nomadic lifestyle except for the empty nest puppy that I got, who ties us down a little bit. And I’m strategizing on how to position my consulting so that I can be more of a compliance and technology strategist and do less day-to-day project-type stuff. So, I’m partnering with other consulting firms so that I can have broader reach. I’m also working on expanding my expert witness practice so that for failed technology projects, I can go in, provide an opinion, be a part of a deposition, and potentially do less work at a higher fee so that I can have more free time. And then also taking a closer look at our portfolio and what we need to do to continue to diversify, put our money to work in areas that align with our values.


Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, very good. I definitely know expert witness work can be very lucrative. So, may you make lots of money.


Terri Mead: Yeah. So, then I can influence. You know, I was listening to one of the interviews of one of the gals on the podcast, I think it was from 2022 where she talked about making a lot of money and being able to do good with her money. And that is one of the things that my husband and I really want to do as well. We don’t plan on leaving a legacy, a financial legacy to our kids. You know, we’ll support them through our lifetime. We want to live comfortably, but we also want to influence the things that we think are most important, education, a safe and healthy environment for all, primarily education, because we think education is a foundation. Lack of education is the root of all evil and education is a solution to that. So, we are just looking for ways to do good with how fortunate we’ve been in our lifetime.


Hilary Hendershott: That’s amazing. Congratulations on your self-actualization and your benevolence. It’s nice to be connected. That’s awesome. Thanks for being here.


Terri Mead: Thanks for letting me talk about this. I’m still processing a lot about my experience as an angel investor. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I’m also a little bit concerned about how sexy – I keep using that word because it’s your word – how sexy the world has made angel investing seem. And I think we really need to see some significant changes with the financial market to make it so it’s a little less sexy because it’s quite a bit of a gamble, but at least find a way to get funding into the hands of the founders, entrepreneurs, and business owners to do the good work in our world.


Hilary Hendershott: Well, I think it’s hard for people to grapple with that even for successful venture capital firms. I mean, I think it’s still the common wisdom is 90% or more of their portfolio companies fail, right? They don’t come to fruition and that’s just hard for people to really wrap their brains around. So, tell people, I was reading your article on Medium.com, but tell people where to find you on the Internet.


Terri Mead: TerriHansonMead.com, you can find me there. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Instagram, Terri Hanson Mead. And then my book, Piloting Your Life, is available on Amazon in audio, e-book, and paperback.


Hilary Hendershott: Amazing. We’ll include the links in the show notes.


Terri Mead: Thanks for having me.


Hendershott Wealth Management, LLC and Love, your Money do not make specific investment recommendations on Love, your Money or in any public media. Any specific mentions of funds or investments are strictly for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice or acted upon by individual investors. The opinions expressed in this episode are those of Hilary Hendershott, CFP®, MBA.


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