Managing Director of Golden Seeds
Stephanie Hanbury-Brown is the founder of the Golden Seeds an angel investing group for both men and women, but which only invests in startups run by women entrepreneurs.
Stephanie grew up in New South Wales, Australia. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sidney.
Stephanie’s first job managing a 2000 acre ranch in new South Wales lead her to an interesting career in finance and then into angel investing. As ranch manager she had to take a load of cattle to market and discovered the price of cattle had dropped $0.02 a kilo. She telephoned her boss and he asked “what is the futures market trading at?” Prior to that she did not know what the futures market was and decided to start tracking cattle futures. When her job at the ranch finished, Stephanie went back to Sydney and got a job as a floor trader at the Sydney Futures Exchange, trading cattle and sheep futures. She then moved into financial instruments, interest rates, currencies, gold and silver.
Wanting to take some time off and travel, Stephanie moved to London when she knew she could get a job on the newly created London International Financial Futures Exchange. After working in the London financial area, she was hired by JP Morgan to run their Futures Business in London. She was a senior manager for 20 years in Financial Services, mostly with the JP Morgan Company.
Stephanie started Golden Seeds in 2005 to invest in start up companies founded and run by women. Her primary responsibility is to bring in new investors who are referred. She meets with them on a one-on-one basis to explain what Golden Seeds does and help them decide if Golden Seeds is right for them. Potential investors are high net worth, retired or semi-retired individuals usually with business backgrounds.
Since Stephanie studied a lot of law subjects in school, she is able to easily handle an important part of her job, as she has to “…to read a lot of legal documents.” She says “I am very comfortable reading and understanding them (legal documents). Even though we have legal advisors, this saves the company in legal fees and speeds up the negotiation process.”
Stephanie says “the biggest challenge in running an ‘angel’ group is making money. It is hard work and you only make money from membership fees which are very low. We break even.”
As an angel, Stephanie made a return of 10x on her initial investment. The second company she invested in was sold for stock and she is confident it will prove to be a success. She has lost money in two companies out of a total of 16 investments. Golden Seeds as a group has invested in a total of 18 companies.
Angel investing has changed a lot in the last 6 to 7 years according to Stephanie. She says that “…prior to the tech boom and bust, venture capital funds invested in the start up/small company space. Now VC’s invest mostly in larger companies since they have large amounts of capital to put to work. It’s becoming a bit institutionalized. Some angel groups are acting as mini-venture capital funds now.”
Requirements for an angel investor is officially being an “accredited investor*” which is an SEC requirement. This really means potential investors must have investable dollars over an above their house and nest egg. The appropriate amount to invest in a high-risk venture may be 10% of one’s holdings. However, Stephanie says “You don’t want to put all of your money in one or two investments because they may be the ones that don’t make it. You want to create a portfolio of at least 10 companies. Our requirement is $25,000 investment per company.”
She feels the most rewarding enjoyable aspect of her career is working with smart, hard working people.
Stephanie says the keys to success are applying good common sense and hard work as in every field. “There is no substitute for hard work”
When Stephanie has free time she enjoys adventure travel, hiking, biking, tennis, and sailing.
*Accredited Investor Under the Securities Act of 1933 “a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase.” http://www.sec.gov/answers/accred.htm
Stephanie is the 2008 winner of the Hans Severiens Award given by the Angel Capital Association for outstanding accomplishments in the advancement of angel investing.
What is Angel Investing?
An angel investor or angel (known as a business angel or informal investor in Europe), is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital. Wikipedia