Joanne Wilson: the angel who backs female-founded companies

July 21, 2023
Angel investors

Joanne Wilson  has been one of the hottest entrepreneurs and angel investors in the NYC scene for many years, as well as a voice for women in tech. She is well known as a prolific blogger, host of Positively Gotham Gal, and co-founder of the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival. She's also served on the board of directors for several companies, including the New York Tech Meetup and Techstars.

Joanne's been involved in the tech industry since the mid-90’s, back when it was rare to meet someone involved in tech. One thing is for certain: Joanne is a strong advocate for diversity in the tech industry and has worked really hard to promote women entrepreneurs and founders. She also has a super cool podcast where she interviews interesting female entrepreneurs about their experiences and what they're building.

Her first investment was in 2007 in a friend’s company called Curbed Media. At the time, she didn’t have an investment thesis per say, and wasn’t planning to become an active angel investor. Her husband encouraged her to make that first angel investment in Curbed, since she was absolutely obsessed and excited about what they were doing, and from there on she started writing more frequent checks.

As many angel investors do, Joanne bets on people first and foremost, or as she says it in her own words, she invests in “survivors”. Even if there’s traction and a good product or service, ultimately it’s the people behind that she invests in. 

Many angel investors turn into VCs at some point, but Joanne wants nothing to do with LPs or be responsible for other people’s money. She is passionate about having the freedom to say exactly what thinks, and to give founders her full support and help them navigate the difficulties of the startup world.

Something that many VCs can’t do, because after all, a founder isn’t going to call you up and tell you their real struggles when you’ve invested a few million dollars of other people's money in them. 

Founder red flags: 

  • People who don’t have or show passion and dedication
  • People who act like they know what they’re doing but they don’t
  • People who don’t listen

What she looks for in founders: 

  • Tenacity
  • Good conversation & banter
  • People who can figure things out on their own

Joanne Wilson's investment portfolio

Her investments:

More than 140 angel investments, including Manufactured, Lately, Hullabalu, Planted, Vengo, and more. She's also invested in several restaurants in downtown New York City. Check out her full investment portfolio on Gotham Gal.

Her exits:

More than 20 exits including Red Stamp, VenueBook, SparkFin, Switchboard, and Scoot.

Her investment thesis:

$50k or less for 1% of the company.

Overall portfolio success:

Out of 140 companies she’s invested in, 12 have failed. 

Her advice to angel investors:

Be prepared to wait at least 7 years to assess your portfolio and which companies are winners or losers. And always support the founders you invest in and help them out wholeheartedly.

What she's up to next

Joanne's latest venture, dubbed "GOTHAM," is set to be one of the first recreational Marijuana dispensaries in Manhattan and is expected to open its doors in Spring 2023.

Full interview with Joanne on angel investing

Read more articles like this in our Angel Chronicles series.

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