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Jazz Shaper: Sarah Turner

Posted on 04 February 2023

Sarah Turner is an entrepreneur and angel investor. 

In 2014, she co-founded the fast-growing and award-winning angel network, Angel Academe. They help female founders and co-founders access a unique pool of engaged, mainly female investors. Angel Academe investors have backed 45+ start-ups through 70+ funding rounds, helping them raise over £100 million from angels, VCs and family offices to continue to grow their med tech, clean tech, fin tech and enterprise software businesses, many of them with ESG goals at the core of their mission. Their investors are successful entrepreneurs and senior leaders. Many are new to angel investing when they join, but learn through investing alongside experienced angels after structured, collaborative and rigorous due diligence. 

Highlights

I didn’t write business plans. I kind of dived straight in. I was confident about my instincts.

I’ve always wanted to change things. I was a terrible employee when I was working for other people because I could always wanted, I could see how this could be better.

I started off as most people do, in some really crappy jobs, but I was always very motivated to do my best and be nice to people - and people admiring what you did was a huge driver.

In this particular area I thought I was in a really good position to make a difference because I had networks, I had a bit of money that I could angel invest.

I think if you’re encouraging other people to do that with their own money, you’ve got to do it alongside them; I don’t believe in encouraging other people to take risks that you’re not prepared to take.

Barriers are part of life and finding your way through them, over them or round them and I think you’ve just got to keep pushing and believing in what you’re doing.

Everyone talks about resilience but it’s more than resilience, because resilience suggests that you bounce back to where you were before, but 'antifragile' might mean that you have to change direction completely - the best founders are able to do that.

Most of the investors have good support structures at home which buys them a bit of time to build their businesses.

Most investors have got plans in place so that they can deal with the domestic crises that emerge, and also they’ve got teams around them in their business that can take some of the load as well. That’s really important.

We don’t invest in businesses to tell them how to turn their business. We invest in businesses because we believe that the founding team are the right people to build it.

We keep hearing how there’s a massive productivity issue in this country and the businesses that we’re investing in are the key to improving this and also creating good jobs for the future generations. 

It's about building your instincts, it’s experience, it’s learning by doing.

One important thing is putting people together so that they learn from each other - because everyone brings something to the party from their day job, from their previous experience.

I’d love to get to a point where we don’t have to talk about gender, but I think we have got to accept we’ve got a fundamental, structural imbalance.

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