AWE Ventures funds two more women-run companies


The Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs has just invested in two new companies founded by women — Meg 21 Skincare and Invisalert Solutions.

These startups bring AWE Venture’s portfolio up to six companies. The other four are My Milkrate, ROAR for Good, Lia Diagnostics and I’m Sorry to Hear.

Meg 21 Skincare has recently started to blitz the market with its anti-aging skin care solution, which was developed as founder Annette Tobia was researching diabetes and treatments to its side effects. Meg 21’s product has been available for several years, but the company only recently hired Jenni Nagle to boost its brand.

“In the last couple of years, we realized we needed to get this out to the mainstream,” Nagle said. “I came on board with them to amp up presence to the consumer world versus just the medical world.”

Just last Thursday, Meg 21 was pushing its topical cream on the Home Shopping Network. It’s not cheap — a few ounces can cost more than $100.

Invisalert has developed a technology platform that allows health care providers to monitor patient behavior and thus ensure their safety. The company was founded by two women — Dr. Michelle Marcolongo and Dr. Regina Widdows.

AWE Ventures was just launched last year, and its chairwoman, Joan Waters of COFCO, said she’s determined to get more women founders and investors involved in Philadelphia entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Women tend to be great at making donations, but not good at making investments,” she said.

“I think with women, they aren’t big risk-takers,” Waters said, citing a major entrepreneurial character trait. “Women want to understand how it’s done. They want to have a comfort level.”

AWE Ventures and its partner, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, have raised $250,000 for the fund to date. Ben Franklin matches every dollar that goes into the fund from AWE Ventures up to $250,000. The Philadelphia venture capital firm does due-diligence on these companies, with help from a representative at AWE.

After already hitting the halfway mark, Waters said AWE Ventures could hit its fundraising goal by the end of the year — initially, it was expected to take more than twice that long.

AWE will also adopt a new approach to encourage angel investing among women; its efforts will culminate at an April 5 event in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia does have some women-oriented tech organizations, like TechGirlz and Girl Develop It, that home in on providing resources for women in the tech and startup communities. AWE Ventures is poised to make even more investments as it continues to raise money this year.

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