Meet Lucy Chow – mom of one and director of the Women’s Angel Investor Network. With extensive experience in the startup space, she's also the senator to the UAE for the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF), co-chair for the Capital Club's Women In Business Committee, and the successful talk show host of Down to Business with Lucy Chow.
Here she shares her own career journey and advice for crunchmoms who want to become the women founders of tomorrow.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Canadian Chinese and have been an expat for over 25 years, 14 of those in the UAE! I am a mother to Max who is 15 years old. My husband, Ray, and I celebrated our 20th anniversary last year.
I am the Senator, UAE for the World Business Angels Forum (WBAF). In addition, I am the Secretary-General, Global Women’s Leader Committee and I sit as an Executive, Investment Committee, WBAF Angel Investment Fund. As an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), the World Business Angels Investment Forum is committed to collaborating globally to empowering the economic development of the world. I couldn’t be more proud of my work with WBAF.
I am also in the process of authoring a book on e-sports and gaming, which is to be published summer of 2021.
After working in the banking and finance sector for over 16 years, what made you want to try something different?
When we moved from Hong Kong to Dubai, I honestly felt I had enough of the corporate world and wanted to try starting my own thing.
I started a company focused on thought leadership events and then eventually found my way to supporting entrepreneurs as an angel investor. I'm now advocating for the importance of countries to invest in entrepreneurs and the need for more smart money investors.
You have a remarkable track record of working with organizations and forums that provide startups with access to funding. What are some of the insights or learnings you’ve had along the way?
If there is one thing I intuitively understand is that it is important to build one’s social capital. Having a strong network is not always about helping oneself. With a strong network, I can and do help to impact others. I was always good at connecting with people, but not always at staying connected. For example, my undergrad university connections are almost non-existent. It takes time to cultivate and stay up to date with ones’ network which is extremely important when the time comes to look for funding. Obviously, platforms such as LinkedIn has made that much easier for all of us.
As one of the founding members of the Women’s Angel Investor Network, what advice do you have for women entrepreneurs who might be looking to get funding?
Start building your network early. Ideally, before you need to look for funding. It’s always good to get to know the investor, be it an angel investor or private equity company so that they can get to know you and your business. Immerse yourself in the startup space. This is relatively easy in a place like the UAE as our ecosystem is small and people are generally very supportive.
What inspired you to start your own talk show?
Honestly, it is thanks to the Founder of Dubai on Demand, Reim El Houni. She spoke about how she found navigating the entire startup ecosystem confusing as a female founder. Fundraising and how to go about it was incredibly opaque – she is absolutely right. Lack of access to funding that women founders face all over the world, not just in this region.
Initially, I was sharing my insights and then I realized it’s best to hear from entrepreneurs themselves and the idea of the talk show was born out of this!
What do you think is the future of startups in the region?
I was actually just quoted about this topic in LinkedIn’s 24 Big Ideas that will Change our World 2021.
"While the pandemic has devastated local economies around the world and put millions out of work, it will set off an entrepreneurial renaissance. We will start to see more people step off the corporate ladder and start their own businesses. Maybe at an accelerated rate like we have not seen before,” said Lucy Chow, a senator representing the UAE at the World Business Angels Investment Forum.
If you could magically have one wish come true, what would it be?
That my book is on the New York Times Best Seller list!