Top Boston angel Jean Hammond wins coveted ACA impact award

By: Sarah Dickey, ACA Membership Director

Jean Hammond has done more for women entrepreneurs and women angels than perhaps any other angel investor. We say this as we award Jean, a founder of the Boston chapter of GoldenSeeds and member of Hub Angels and LaunchPad Venture Group, our most prestigious honor - the 2014 Hans Severiens Award.

ACA and the Angel Resource Institute (ARI) established this annual award in 2005 to honor one individual whose actions demonstrate leadership in advancing the role of angel investing, in expanding entrepreneurship, and whose accomplishments shape and benefit the angel investment industry as a whole. It is named after Dr. Hans Severiens, a founder of the angel investment movement and Band of Angels of Menlo Park, Calif. Dr. Severiens also helped found the Angel Capital Association.

Jean exemplifies these traits as well as any angel out there today. She is a successful serial entrepreneur, prolific angel investor, mentor of entrepreneurs and teacher of new angels. She has served as CEO at Quarry Technologies, is a founder of AXON Networks, and is interim CEO of Jam Technologies.

Well-known nationally for her experience, expertise and success, Jean has made about 140 angel investments. She helped found the Boston chapter of GoldenSeeds and is a member of Hub Angels and LaunchPad.

Jean teaches workshops for ACA. Working with others in the New England angel community, Jean co-founded and continues to run cross-angel group education sessions. Regional member groups of ACA host educational workshops focused on the specific needs of angel groups in New England. The purpose is to help existing and prospective angel investors improve their investment knowledge and expertise - and to add value to their role as business angels. These panel-driven sessions have been held at least 10 times with more than 300 attendees.

Jean mentors at accelerators, including MassChallenge, TechStars and LearnLaunchX – the 1-year-old ed tech accelerator in Boston that she co-founded. She selflessly offers her time, expertise, network, and capital by helping thousands of budding entrepreneurs learn the benefits of raising capital from angels, angel groups, and as a member of The Capital Network board.

Recently she served an Entrepreneur in Residence at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where dozens of entrepreneurship students took advantage of her counsel, network, and capital.

While the startups that Jean supports have benefitted greatly from her expertise, she said she gets as much - if not more - back from them in return.

"I've been able to broaden my mind every day by getting to meet exciting new companies with new ideas in new industries," Hammond said. "I get to learn from them and the other investors in the room and it way surpasses doing crosswords for keeping your mind active. You get to work with really smart peers. I just find it a ton of fun, very exciting, very interesting."

She also credits the camaraderie and teamwork of working with angel groups with her success. "Angel group investing is a team contact sport and that to the extent that we can use the varying expertise from the different people in the angel group and other expertise around the community then we can bring great resources to great startups and grow great companies," she said. "The human capital in angel groups is a secret weapon to grow jobs in the economy in America. To the extent that we can deploy those together with these companies is a very powerful story."

Jean is a Mass High Tech All-Star, winner of MIT’s Monosson Prize (for entrepreneurship mentoring) and a Women in Science and Technology “One Who Gives Back” winner.

"Jean has made significant contributions to the New England angel ecosystem for more than 15 years - as an investor, advisor, mentor and board member," said David Verrill, chairman of the ACA board. "Jean is a successful entrepreneur who has dedicated herself to giving back to that community. There is nobody who has done more for women entrepreneurs and women angels than Jean Hammond."

Jean acknowledges she has helped make the New England startup ecosystem stronger. "I think the reason that I'm getting this award is because I've been a part of making the New England ecosystem able to fire on all cylinders, helping the different groups work together, with other groups throughout the region," she said. "I don't think this award is for me. It's for growing a great angel group ecosystem and supporting other parts of the ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship."

With someone like Jean, who is involved with so many different companies in so many different ways, one wonders what the next big thing will be.

According to Jean - it's education and the ed-tech industry, which she personally supports. "When an industry heats up it's a great time for investors, it's a great time for entrepreneurs, a great time for that industry," she said. "Angel dollars can make a real difference."

The Hans Severiens Award Committee chooses award winners based on the following criteria:
1. Depth and breadth of individual’s impact on advancement of angel investing.
2. Leadership in bringing awareness to the vital role of angel investing in the support of entrepreneurial companies.
3. Contribution to the knowledge base on angel investing.
4. Respect and recognition by peers for contributions to the angel investment industry.
5. General accomplishments which have influenced or benefited the angel investment industry.

It is great to remember Hans Severiens each year through this award. His impact remains throughout the angel industry and especially through the Band of Angels. The Silicon Valley-based group has remained very active, investing $228 million in 270 deals since 1994 and helping create thousands of jobs.


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