Fintech Fridays EP37: Funding is Female with Jill Earthy

NCFA Canada | Sep 13, 2019


FF EP37 female funders 1 - Fintech Fridays EP37:  Funding is Female with Jill Earthy

Sep 13: Funding is Female with Jill Earthy EP37

GUEST: JILL EARTHY, Head of Female Funders (Linkedin)

HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host

BIO:  Jill Earthy is an entrepreneurially minded leader who believes diversity drives innovation. As Head of Female Funders (powered by Highine BETA), she is empowering female leaders to become investors in early stage companies. Her background includes being an entrepreneur, supporting entrepreneurs in various leadership roles and working as Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr, an online investment platform. She is a community leader and active mentor, currently serving on the national Board of Sustainable Development Technology Canada and as Board Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Centre in BC, and as Co-Chair of We for She. Jill was recently recognized by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion award as a Community Champion, by Business in Vancouver as an Influential Woman in Business and by WXN as one the Top 100 most powerful women in Canada in 2019.


About this episode: 

On this episode of NCFA'S Fintech Fridays Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Jill Earthy the Head of Female Funders. The talk about what the Angel Academy is, why female funders matter, and the holistic approach to innovation.  Enjoy!

Female funders resize - Fintech Fridays EP37:  Funding is Female with Jill Earthy

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Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

Manseeb Khan : Hey everybody Manseeb Khan here. Thank you for tuning to another fantastical episode of the FinTech Friday podcast. I'm thinking of actually creating fantastical T-shirts because we should use this. Every single show as fantastical is not a word. Last episode I said I was part of the Oxford Dictionary actually might come highly considered actually trying to make it an actual word just for the sake of my introduction, sort of look like an idiot. But this week I'm super excited to have Jill. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jill Earthy: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Manseeb Khan : Absolutely. Jill. Could you for the five or six people or actually for the five or six people that may not know who you are and what Female Funders is, could you just give us a little bit of introduction of your background and the amazing work that you're doing?

Jill Earthy: Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah Jill Earthy a program called Female Funders. And, you know, it's interesting, you come out, you ask about my background. And I've always been passionate. I think, like many of your audience members, about disrupting and changing things and looking at things in new ways. And certainly, my career has, as you know, shows that path. So, as an entrepreneur, then leading several organizations, supporting entrepreneurs, or  working as chief growth officer at a fintech company, Front Funder online investment platform, creating new ways for entrepreneurs to access capital and broadening the reach for investors. And then, you know, it all circles. It's funny how it’s kind of all kind of comes full circle. So Female Funders is a program focused on female leaders, primarily senior leaders in corporations and technology companies or seasoned entrepreneurs themselves who have a curiosity about investing in early stage companies, but maybe haven't had exposure to it in the past or aren't sure where to start. And so, our goal is really to demystify the process, make it easy and make it accessible and increase the number of women participating as investors.

Manseeb Khan : That's incredible. So, you guys created this new kind of academy called the Angel Academy. Could you talk a little bit more about that and how I can get of all people can get involved and just essentially what the Angel Academy is?

Jill Earthy: Yes. So, the Angel Academy is our core education program and we work with cohorts of leaders from across North America. And that's really neat to right because they're coming at it from a variety of different backgrounds perspectives. It's primarily, primarily women. And the program runs over. The Angel Academy program runs over eight weeks. It's virtually run. We have four online learning modules which are self-directed full of all sorts of great content and articles and links. And thanks to podcasts, we'll have to add this one and other content. But the most important part is we host office hours where we bring in investor mentors. And those investor mentors are men and women, incredible venture capital partners or experienced angel investors to share their experience and expertise and provides an active learning opportunity for us to all work together. So that happens over an eight-week period. And then we have an apprenticeship component where we match each of our participants with a mentor, an experienced investor. And that's super powerful as they're starting their investing journey. I'm starting to identify companies that they're interested in and having that guide to ask questions I've learned from as they're getting ready to write the first check. So, the bulk of the program is it's a really over eight weeks of education, four-month apprenticeship, so a six month program. And then we wrap a whole number of other things around that, including investment learning labs, bringing different cohort participants together and an in-person event as well.

Manseeb Khan : That's incredible. That sounds like a lot of fun and like very important work because like becoming an investor or, you know, if the audience wants to just quickly, maybe follow along, just I kind of read a little bit about it having a guide or just having somebody kind of walk you through. You know, you have enough capital to start investing in a couple of companies that you definitely have your eye on. Having a mentor or having a system, having a more or less academy to kind of teach you the ins and outs of the realm of investing. It's super important, super crucial, because every single day we have the opportunity to keep more and more investors right now having academies and having institutions to create more and more smart investors. That's an interesting, incredible and it's super exciting.

Jill Earthy: Well, I think you're absolutely right. Because I think we should make sure that it's clear that these are high risk investments. This is an asset class in that that is high risk in early stage companies. Right. You're taking a you're taking a huge risk, but also it could result in a big opportunity as well. But you're absolutely right. Like having that support, expertise, know, sharing, sharing experiences. You know, we know the importance of having diverse perspectives to make better decisions. And we're hoping that mitigates some of the risk greater to result in greater outcomes for all.

Manseeb Khan : So why are female fund funders and backers important? Very important, especially when it comes to funding. I mean, this is a topic that I've very briefly touched on the second episode of this podcast but haven't really had the chance to really go in depth. So, could you just talk a little bit about why Female Funders and backers are very important, especially in the fintech space?

Jill Earthy: Well, you look at just, you know, our economy as a whole and the huge, huge opportunity that we have. So Female Funders in partnership with Highline data released a report earlier this year that looked at some of the numbers and I was fine. Obviously, numbers are great. They tell a story for factual. So just as an example, you know, in Canada last year, 14 percent of angel investors were women, 17 percent of angel investors this year were women. So, we're seeing a shift, which is great, but there's a huge opportunity to increase that. You know, you look at the diversity of those making investment decisions within venture capital firms. And, you know, this is relevant as the growth of the fintech ecosystem continues. But now 15 percent of venture capital leaders are women and 8 percent are partners. Right. So, we look at that as like, wow, OK. We have an opportunity here right now. How do we unlock some of their capital? Because we know that the growth of female leaders is continuing. We have incredible resources. And so how do we how do we connect those dots? I think one of the key challenges that women we don't often identify as investors, you know, certainly as champions and mentors and advisors. And so how do we just connect those dots? And by doing so will unlock new capital, which benefits everybody. Because, again, by having those diverse perspectives making decisions, we'll see a broader range of companies from seed funding, new models. And then everyone benefits.

Manseeb Khan : Yeah. No,  I absolutely agree through. And in a sense of like creating you said something interesting creating more like I guess more or less like diversity and a sense of like, hey, you know, having more female funders, having more female investors, that's just going to, you know, just fast forward innovation in any space. Right. Not a fintech, but any realm of investing, having new ideas, having new concepts, having new models. It just it's a win for.

Jill Earthy: 100 percent, 100 percent. You think about I mean, we're focused primarily on gender diversity, although I would also say very much within our cohorts of women, we have incredible cultural and ethnic diversity and certainly a lot of industry experience diversity, which is powerful, too. But our goal is, is not to continue to run this. This program focused on women. We'd rather not, but. Absolutely. We do have some catching up to do so. So, there's huge power. And that's certainly why we love these conversations and having so many incredible male champions involved in our in our program. And we're just trying to bridge the gap, bring these great women into the ecosystem.

Manseeb Khan : So, yeah. So, you know, I mean, you don't want to be running this program for like six years and be like, OK, well, now we're a two out of five females. Our investors well crap. Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah. Could you talk a little bit more? So, you did briefly mention you guys focus on gender diversity and ethnic diversity. You could talk a little bit how you guys are going about that and just some of the initiatives you have in place to further that mission.

Jill Earthy: Yeah. Yeah. So, with our core program in Angel Academy, we know the types of people that are participating in the program tend to come from three, three groups, I guess primarily so senior leaders within large corporations. I mean, you indicated the need for corporations to continually innovate to That's, especially the financial institutions. Well, every company, you know, oil and gas, you know, there's every sector need to continually innovate. And so, we have a lot of senior leaders within those companies are going, OK, we need to innovate, but we need to do that. We need to understand the venture ecosystem and we need to understand how these startups operate. And so, we're seeing more and more of those types of leaders come into our program for professional development and better understanding and direct connection to the ecosystem, but also for personal interest, of course, as they look to potentially invest to as they become more comfortable and familiar. And then the other group is those in those technology companies. When you think about, you know, even thinking of some of the fintech companies across North America, where they've grown to a point and they're leaders within those companies maybe who didn't start at the very beginning, but who have seen this company grow and are likely to second to be involved with those companies from the from the start. So, they're interested in coming into this program. And then the third group is are those seasoned entrepreneurs who have built businesses to a point where they may still be involved, but they're not as involved in the day to day and can actually step up. And participate on the other side of the table. Or maybe have exited and want to get one. You complete the circle.

Manseeb Khan : And of course, under. And give back. Right. Because one of the core things that you kind of learn, especially in entrepreneurship, is it's great that you know, it's good that you're learning. Creating a network, but also giving back to network is always very crucial. It's very clear that it's the it's the full circle. Right.

Jill Earthy: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. No. It's amazing. And even you look at, you know, there's so many great leaders in fintech now, too. I mean, some of our partners are you know, you look at someone like Lisa Shields of Flies Van and Natalie Cartwright, and there's just so many great. Yeah, great, great leaders, men, and women. But there are some real opportunities to continue to enhance the tech sector.

Manseeb Khan : Yeah. No, absolutely. I like hopefully, you know, not in the fintech sector, but other sectors as well. So, this is, again, very, very exciting, exciting work. So, could you talk about the current challenges that female founders and funders face? Yeah. Top five or even top 10.

Jill Earthy: So, I think there's a couple of key ones and I like to think about. So, there's a lot of a lot of articles and things that talk about women being risk adverse. I think that holds true on women entrepreneurs’ access and capital as well as women investors. I much prefer the term risk astute, meaning that women tend to be more methodical in their approach, especially when it comes to accessing, financing, or writing checks. Want to really understand the process, demystify it, understand the lingo. You want to talk to a number of people. That's not a wrong way of doing things. It's just a different way of doing things. And so, I think by embracing that, there's a lot more opportunities. And we're seeing the data now show, too, that, you know, women entrepreneurs they're building companies in different ways and accessing different buckets of financing and putting this together. The results are much stronger. They're actually using less capital to grow more and focused on revenue growth. And that's pretty powerful. I see that as an opportunity. It's just a different model because often we you know, certainly in the venture ecosystem, success is often based on how much money you've raised. And so, you know, which is one benchmark. But I don't think that's the that that should be the only one to benchmark. No, not like I personally would much rather invest in companies that are focused on revenue growth and customer acquisitions. But that that's different anyways. And then so and on the investor side, too, it's the same thing. Women are less likely to just immediately write a check. Really. They want to do more research, dig it, dig in deeper, understand that more. Not a bad thing, just a different path. And therefore, the process takes a little bit longer and the numbers aren't quite as high. Also tend to write smaller checks versus larger checks, more maybe more smaller checks. But again, just different approaches. So, I'm not sure yet. There's lots of data around that challenges. I think sometimes it's also around access to networks and women are getting better at doing that. But we have to invite them in sometimes. That's another common challenge. Like often.

Manseeb Khan : Are they? So, when you mean access to networks, are they just a little adverse to joining? These said networks are like what is like what is the challenge specifically of them having access to these networks.

Jill Earthy: Yeah, well, you think about it and I'll just use angel groups as an example. Right. Typically, haven't been very many women involved in those groups. And so, you know, but that's where the deals happen or in other groupings like that, right. Or no. I have a lot of friends to get a call from their friend saying, hey, do you want to go in on this deal with me? And women are just for whatever reason, you know, it's not. Not necessarily that they've been excluded, maybe just not completely invited, or haven't put their hand up to be invited. Right. There are multiple factors, but I think we need to. Yeah. So. So that's why you're seeing an increase in the number of women's networks. And I don't believe just in women only networks. But I think that's a starting point to get and start to have those conversations and create access. And we'll see that. And now. As I said, our goal is to make sure we're just growing the networks overall. So, people are connecting and identifying deals and opportunities together and collaborating on those. So that's just a shift right there where a lot of all know the term old boys’ networks and where we're trying to shift that.

Manseeb Khan : Yeah, I know for sure. I mean, definitely having a focus on first like an equality, it comes to both parties and then starting to network. I think that's definitely one of the better approaches when it comes towards that. I guess I guess I'm going to I'm going to try to throw it to you. Is there something that we should be aware of when it comes to Female Funders and female founders? Is it something that we, the audience can kind of do to help is? Yeah. Is there a way that we can kind of hope or is it ways that we're just not aware of that we can help?

Jill Earthy: Well, I think what you're doing right now is awesome because it's really often about just having the conversation right and putting it out there and hearing people's stories. So I think for all of us, it is about just getting engaging with more people, reaching out, talking about it, you know, and certainly as it pertains to Female Funders, you know, where I get excited and most passionate about it is, you know, I'll just start talking about at the dinner table or a dinner party. Right. About an opportunity to participate in investing in this new venture. And, you know, it's amazing when you just start to open up the conversation that how people are like, oh, that sounds interesting. I thought that I had to write a million-dollar check to and not look like I look like that. And I think that's for young people. I think that's for women. I think that's for everybody. Is just a start to have the conversation about finance and about investing, you know, whether you have the capacity to do it now or in the future? It's starting to just think about that differently and starting to plan because again, these are high risk investments. So, you need to plan you need your traditional investments, for sure, but starting to plan a small portion. Your first check is small or maybe it's five thousand dollars. Or through something like Front Funder , it's a thousand dollars or whatever it is. That being the thought of being coordinated and collaborating with others. Have more experience or all are all critical.

Manseeb Khan : Yeah, no, I agree. I mean that's kind of what kick this. That that's just one of the reasons why I actually invited you to come on the show. It's because of, you know, we're thinking of creating this new initiative where we kind of focus on female founders, female funders, and kind of sharing the stories. I know when we had when I had  Sue Britain on, one of the fears was that like, hey, especially in finance is an old boys club. Slowly but surely, you're seeing some of that remnants bleed into fintech. And that's one of the biggest worries of OK. I definitely don't want that to happen here because the because the whole purpose of fintech is to be different. Right. From the traditional sense. Right. So having amazing people like you and some of the other guys that we have lined up should be a really interesting set of conversations that we're going to have a, you know, talk about the challenges, talk about opportunities, how we can how what we can do and just, you know, hope furthering long the conversation of like, hey, you know what? There should be an even playing field for anybody and everybody. That's. That's. There's no there's no it is no budge on that, there's no leeway. Right.

Jill Earthy: Yeah, no, absolutely. And there's so many more opportunities now, right? I mean, you look at some of the new fintech initiatives or programs and there's. Yeah. I mean, a lot of the point of it is to make it a bit more inclusive. Right. Because it's more transparent. A lot of the platform are more accessible and so there's things are really exciting opportunity.

Manseeb Khan : Well, yes. And now like a TV to switch gears a little like when it comes to investing. And now you have you have the chance of crowdfunding and, you know, getting money from people. They want to see that you're doing amazing work. They want to see that like, hey, like, what are what are some of the initiatives that they're that they're doing? What are the social causes that they're involved in? Right. Cause if you're putting if I'm putting my money towards something beautiful, a regular Joe Schmo like me or an actual seasoned investor, they want to see that you guys are doing something different, something that, you know, having female funders or even having a team of like really kickass female executives matters. That works.

Jill Earthy: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Chuckling Yeah. There are so many new incredible opportunities for people to participate. And even as you said, like even starting small, I mean, my first my first cheque was five thousand dollars for my RSP, which I didn't realize I could do. And was eligible for 30 percent tax credit. This was four or five years ago. And it's just those things where nobody talks about those and you're like, wow, that's amazing. And I get to participate. And it's not all opportunities are like That's. There are obviously much higher minimums and sometimes there's much lower minimums and there's pros and cons. And sometimes you want a whole mix of all those things. Course. Yeah, but the point is there's a lot there, a lot more opportunities out there everywhere and a lot more people that can now engage and participate in the right way.

Manseeb Khan : Yeah, no, I absolutely go through. This is really exciting things. So, before I wrap this up, I'm going to throw it to you. Is there anything else that the audience should be aware of when it comes to the great work that you're doing?

Jill Earthy: Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it's just. Just keep talking about it. I mean, we run our Angel Academy program twice a year, bringing together these leaders through a virtual environment. Our next programs and we run in the fall, the end of October and one in the spring. So, if you know anybody who's interested and love to hear from them or any questions. We also talked to founders all the time and help to direct them to the right resources. So, we're happy to support there. But I just think it's such you know, it's an exciting ecosystem at the moment, right. Technology fintech, you know, everybody's talking about it. Everybody has a role to play in it. So, it's just figuring out what your role is and how you how you want to engage. But it's amazing. And I keep telling these great stories. Yeah.

Manseeb Khan : No, I mean, definitely I'm going to flip to you to you if there is any amazing funders or founders that you think wish that I should personally talk to you just to come on the show. By all means, it's an open invitation for anybody. I mean, the more conversation, the more stories I can share, the more exciting my job becomes, right?

Jill Earthy: Yeah. And the more impact we can have.

Manseeb Khan : Absolutely. Absolutely. Joe, before we wrap this up, are there a couple of golden nuggets that you want the audience to kind of go home with and just, you know, a year from now? Oh, yeah. Jill told me That's. Yeah, I know that that makes total sense. So, what are some golden nuggets that you want to leave the audience with?

Jill Earthy: That's a lot of pressure. Yeah. I think I think a key thing is just, you know, I think sometimes we get overwhelmed. There's so much noise, there's so much information. You know, you are reading information online and you hear about the technology in an ecosystem and innovation and what does it all mean. And I think we each have a role to play in it. And so I think it's identifying, you know, our own strengths, our own interests, our own goals, whether that's as an art partner and how we want to engage and participate and make a difference as an investor, you know, putting our hand up and reaching out to learn more about what that can look like, because it can look a lot of different ways and engage that way or just as an advisor or a mentor supporter, because we all have strengths and skills and expertise. But I think just the power of that and continuing to talk about innovation as a whole as a holistic approach. It's pretty exciting time, but it can get a bit overwhelming. So just keep me be clear on your mission and connect with others who align with

Manseeb Khan : That's incredible. Jill, thank you so much for sitting down today. Super excited to have you back on the show and super excited to have any of the amazing people a part of your network on the show.

Jill Earthy: Thank you.

Outro : you've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org. Oh yea.


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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP37:  Funding is Female with Jill Earthy The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:

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May 26, 2023 Investing your money is one of the most important things you can do for your financial future. By investing wisely, you can set yourself up for long-term financial stability and security. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the key things you need to know about investing for your future. Why Invest? The first question you might have is: why invest at all? There are several reasons why investing your money is a smart choice: Grow Your Money: Investing your money allows you to potentially earn a higher return than you would get from a savings account or other low-risk investment. Beat Inflation: Inflation can eat away at the value of your money over time. By investing, you can potentially earn a return that beats the rate of inflation, helping you stay ahead financially. Meet Financial Goals: Whether you're saving for a down payment on a house or planning for retirement, investing can help you achieve your financial goals. Types of Investments There are many different types of investments you can make, each with their own unique risks and potential rewards. Some common types of investments include: Stocks: When you buy a share of ...
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The Future Economy | Julia Blackburn | May 15, 2023 Despite a booming tech industry post-Covid, Canada is grappling with a severe tech talent shortage. Problem: 2021 report from KPMG:  A significant 68% of Canadian businesses are struggling to hire skilled tech talent.  Anticipated 2.26 million digital jobs expected by 2025. The country faces an urgent need to leverage untapped talent from underrepresented groups, including women, newcomers, and job-seekers from rural areas. Lack of resources to acquire digital skills among Canadians (81%) and existing gaps in access to digital technology and skills development, based on age, ethnicity, income, and geographic location. Traditional forms of education are not a panacea either, with financial and time constraints making them less viable for vulnerable groups.  Particularly for women, who represent only 23% of the tech workforce, and immigrants, who suffer an annual wage loss of up to $12.6 billion due to underemployment. See:  Fintech Fridays EP55: Global Hiring Trends: How Gen Z Talent Thrives What can be done: Micro-credentials: This is a less costly and time-consuming alternative to traditional higher education. It is especially beneficial for vulnerable groups as it allows them to acquire in-demand tech skills while managing other responsibilities. Due to ...
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The Toronto Star | Don Tapscott | May 20, 2023 The possibilities of artificial intelligence on our economies and culture are spectacular, and its dark side is equally breathtaking.  We need a new social contract. The Power and Peril of Generative AI: Don Tapscott's experience with ChatGPT, a generative AI, reveals the impressive capabilities of the technology - creating high-quality content in a matter of seconds, translating text into multiple languages, and adopting various stylistic approaches. However, he underscores the dangers, such as AI's potential misuse for spreading false information or its impact on jobs and labor markets. As AI generates content, it raises serious questions about copyright ownership and the authenticity of created works. Who owns the AI-generated content - the AI model creator, the AI user, or the AI itself? How can teachers or music labels differentiate between original works and AI-generated pieces? See:  NFX: Hot List of 75 Emerging AI Startups (Seed, Series A) New Social Contract: The rise of generative AI, along with other technological advancements like IoT and Web3, marks the beginning of the Second Era of the Digital Age, which requires new institutions, laws, education, and behaviors to responsibly harness these technologies. Tapscott emphasizes ...
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May 25, 2023 The iGaming industry has really taken off in the last few years, with regulations helping to increase trust and technology creating better experiences for players. In Canada, there’s now a growing number of people signing up to play at online casinos, and more people are joining each year. Thanks to sites like FatGambler, it’s easier than ever to find safe and trusted online casinos, improving options for players. In a short space of time, the iGaming industry has changed significantly, and it continues to evolve at lightning speed thanks to new innovations, consumer trends and market opportunities. Companies that operate in the space need to stay agile and adapt to trends as they happen, or else they could be left behind. In this article, we’ll look at major iGaming trends and what the future may hold for the industry. Crypto Gambling Cryptocurrencies have become hugely popular in recent years, with these digital assets getting a lot of headlines due to their volatile and unique nature. While most people use crypto for trading or investing, it has other uses too, such as playing casino games. With the popularity of cryptocurrencies growing, many online casinos have begun to accept ...
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