Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Pipeline Fellowship Launches in Austin, courtesy photo.

Pipeline Fellowship Launches in Austin, Founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera (in the red shirt), courtesy photo.

Pipeline Fellowship Founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera spoke recently at a Women 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

She talked about her experience as a LGBT Latina entrepreneur and afterwards a black woman approached her tearfully and thanked her for sharing her experience.

It turns out the woman got invited to pitch at a tech event in Los Angeles in 2014 and when she got there a prominent investor handed her his trash to throw out. She explained who she was and that she was pitching and he still told her to throw out the trash.

The woman said, “This is why I want to be a successful entrepreneur so I can become an angel investor and, in turn, fund people of color entrepreneurs so they don’t have to go through what I went through.”

“You can and you will change the face of angel investing,” Oberti Noguera told her.

And that’s Oberti Noguera’s mission.

“If we have more women, as well as men of color – diversity on the angel investing side, the concept of ‘the other’ that is so prominent changes,” Oberti Noguera said. “It’s going to become less “the other’ and more us. That’s what I find really powerful and that will help to improve the situation.”

Oberti Noguera, who was named one of Business Insider’s “30 Most Important Women in Tech Under 30,” is launching the first Pipeline Fellowship cohort in Austin. Pipeline Fellowship is an angel investing bootcamp aimed at training high net worth women how to become angel investors.

Pipeline Fellowship runs programs in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Memphis, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. And it is expanding this Spring to Detroit and Austin.

The goal is to create more capital for women entrepreneurs, Oberti Noguera said.

The deadline to apply to belong to Pipeline Fellowship’s first Austin cohort is Friday, Feb. 13th. To qualify, accredited female investors must have an annual income of $200,000 or $300,000 joint income with spouse for the past two years or $1 million net worth excluding residence. Candidates also must be interested in a group learning model and they must have a passion for philanthropy or social change. Pipeline Fellows range in age from late 20s to 60 plus.

Oberti Noguera dubs the Pipeline Fellows “angels in training” or “sharks in training.”

“Entrepreneurs are everywhere,” Oberti Noguera said. “Capital isn’t.”

“There’s this assumption that if you want funding you should go to Silicon Valley,” Oberti Noguera said. But many people are not wanting, willing or able to do that. So Pipeline Fellowship seeks to bring the capital to female entrepreneurs wherever they live, she said.

“We’re activating local capital for entrepreneurs,” she said.

The Pipeline Fellowship involves three stages. The first is the educational component which provides information ranging from how to do due diligence to portfolio strategies. The next phase involves mentoring in which the women are paired with experienced angel investors for “street smarts,” Oberti Noguera said.

“They learn from real people on the ground sharing experiences,” she said.

Lastly, they participate in a pitch summit. Women entrepreneurs looking for funding submit applications. The group invites eight to ten women to pitch their ideas, and then the Pipeline Fellowship cohort selects one company to invest in as a group. The company gets from $15,000 to $50,000 in seed stage investment.

“Early capital is critical to get the company to the next level,” Oberti Noguera said.

Since Pipeline Fellowship launched in April of 2011, the program has trained 100 women as angel investors.

“We’re creating capital for women looking to do good and women looking to do well,” Oberti Noguera said. “To put it candidly, currently traditional VCs and angels aren’t filling the role.”

Pipeline Fellowship connects female investors and entrepreneurs with opportunities beyond their network and reach, Oberti Noguera said.

“We’re deconstructing the system and creating a new one,” she said. “If we have more diversity on the angel and VC side, then we are going to be more open to diversity on the entrepreneur side.”

Candidates are encouraged to apply by Friday.