What Is Gaingels?
An Inside Look At This LGBTQIA+ Friendly Venture Investment Syndicate
When it comes to venture capital investing, you typically need a high net worth and the right connections to get involved. But even then, there's often a lack of VC investment opportunities that prioritize diversity and the LGBTQIA+ community over regular startup investing.
But with Gaingels, it's a completely different story. This investing syndicate helps its members invest in LGBTQIA+ supportive companies, find new jobs, and increase their professional network. And for companies, Gaingels can take a more active role and help foster a sense of diversity and inclusion.
What Is Gaingels?
Gaingels is an investing syndicate of LGBTQIA+ members and their allies. The syndicate began in 2014 and was founded by David Beatty and Paul Grossinger. At the time, Gaingels was just a small group of LGBTQIA+ investors who wanted to support companies with LGBTQIA+ founders. These days, Gaingels has grown to over 2,700 members who have invested over $600 million in 800+ companies.
As it explains in its mission statement, Gaingels invests in top-tier venture-backed companies who “embrace diverse and inclusive leadership and value a diversified capital and ownership structure.” This means investing in companies with diverse founders and board of directors. It also means working with companies to improve diversity and inclusiveness within their organizations.
Ultimately, Gaingels is more than your basic startup investing platform. This syndicate works with venture capital (VC) groups and companies to improve diversity. It also takes meaningful positions in companies so its members can assist with roles like business development, board advisory, and talent recruitment.
What Does Gaingels Offer?
On the surface, Gaingels might seem like another angel investing platform using crowdfunding to invest in various companies.
However, Gaingels has numerous initiatives that help it achieve its goal of promoting diversity and inclusion. And there are numerous ways investors and companies can benefit by working with Gaingels.
The main Gaingels membership is its standard membership, which is open to accredited investors. This membership is also how you participate in deals and invest as a Gaingels member.
The two most common ways to achieve accreditation status include:
- Having a net worth of $1 million or more excluding your primary residence
- Having an income of $200,000 (or $300,000 with a spouse) for the last two years and a similar income expectation for the given year
Gaingelse doesn't charge any membership fees. There isn't a minimum annual investment requirement either, although over time, Gaingels expects more seasoned members to invest $10,000 or more per year across its portfolio of companies.
As for the companies in Gaingel's portfolio, it's a rather star-studded lineup. This syndicate has invested in companies like Binance.US, MasterClass, BlockFi, Varo, Greenlight, and dozens of other successful startups.
Non-accredited investors can still join Gaingels through its social membership. This free membership lets you attend various Gaingels events throughout the year. You can also attend educational series the syndicate runs, like its monthly Intro to Investing series that prepares new investors for the world of venture capital.
The Gaingel's weekly newsletter highlights upcoming events as well. If you have questions, you can email membership@gaingels with questions or to learn more about upcoming events.
Board Diversity Program
As mentioned, Gaingels doesn't just invest in growing startups. Rather, it tries to take a more active role and guide companies to become more inclusive and diverse.
Its Board Diversity program is one of the main ways Gaingels accomplishes this goal. This program helps companies with selection, vetting, and interviewing board members from various underrepresented minorities and backgrounds. It's completely free for companies as well, and to date, Gaingels has helped over 50 companies with the program.
There's still work to be done. As Gaingels explains on its website, women represent just 26% of all board seats in Fortune 500 companies. And there's a lack of data for early stage and pre-IPO companies and the inclusion of women, Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ representation. But it's programs like Gaingel's Board Diversity program that help bring about meaningful changes in how organizations are structured.
In 2020, Gaingels launched its scholarship program to support LGBTQIA+ students who want to attend college for the first time or continue attending college. The scholarship is supported through donor-funded grants. Scholarship applicants go through an interview process, and recipients receive $5,000 in financial assistance plus interviews with several Gaingel portfolio companies for the chance to score summer internships.
The scholarship was awarded to 15 students in 2020 and 35 students in 2021, with hopes for continued growth each year.
Venture Inclusion Program (VIP)
The Venture Inclusion Program is Gaingel's overarching program with several initiatives to help increase participation from minorities in companies. The Board Diversity program and Gaingel's scholarship are both part of the VIP. But Gaingels also has several other initiatives like:
- Career Fairs: Helps diverse individuals gain more experience and knowledge about the world of venture capital
- Fellow Program: Gaingels hires 12 candidates each year for a 16-week fellowship where candidates learn more about venture capital and expand their professional networks.
- Thought Leadership: Gaingels works with various advocacy organizations and think tanks to support initiatives like white papers, research, conferences, and leadership training.
- Purchasing: This initiative works on certifying minority-owned businesses and then promoting larger organizations to use work with these businesses as supplier and vendor partners.
- Gaingels 100: This new initiative highlights 100 inspiring and successful LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs and their accomplishments.
If you're looking for a new career, Gaingels has a robust job board that's open to everyone regardless of your membership type. At the time of writing, there's over 1,000 companies on the job board and 13,500+ open jobs.
Gaingels includes companies from its portfolio and ones that embrace diversity. As for job types, you can find remote positions or in-office jobs for companies from around the world. Filters for job location, type, and company also help you sort through all the options.
How to Join Gaingels
Anyone can join Gaingels regardless of if they identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community or not. However, it's still a tight-knit community that has an application process and set of membership rules.
The application process involves:
- Completing a Gaingels membership application
- Verifying your identification
- Meeting with the Gaingels Membership Team for a 30 minute interview
After your interview, you find out if you're accepted within 72 hours. As for the application itself, it's fairly straightforward. You have to enter personal information like your name, address, and phone number. You also outline your accreditation status and how you heard about Gaingels and if you know any current members.
Formalities aside, the most important part is that you accept and follow Gaingel's membership agreement. This agreement requires that all members:
- Act transparently, professionally, and with integrity
- Monitor themselves for conflicts of interest
- Maintain confidentiality about private information
- Support companies in Gaingel's portfolio and other members
- Accept the high-risk nature of VC investing
- Do their own due diligence and not rely on Gaingels for investing advice
At the end of the day, Gaingels' leadership team is investing in the same companies alongside accredited members. But this investing syndicate is more than just a deal page of pre-IPO companies; it's a community of angel investors, LGBTQIA+ members, and allies.
Despite having a small membership base, Gaingeslt is making an impact on several fronts. For investors, it helps make some of the best pre-IPO investment opportunities more accessible. And for companies, Gaingels has several initiatives in place to foster a greater inclusivity and LGBTQIA+ awareness.
There are other ways to invest in startups, like using crowdfunding platforms like SeedInvest and OurCrowd. But Gaingels sets itself apart because of its dedication to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and companies that are allies.
If you like what Gaingels is doing, it's certainly worth applying for a membership. Even non-accredited investors can benefit and learn from what this investing syndicate is doing. And if you're an accredited investor, you might find Gaingel's venture capital opportunities benefit your portfolio and important social initiatives.