Jess Jackson is Head of Investment at Manchester-based GC Angels.
She plays a crucial role leveraging funds and angel investment to support innovative early-stage tech focused businesses in the North West.
As part of her role, she is responsible for designing and implementing the strategic vision for GC Angels and in scaling the investment capacity, funding structures and market impact of the service, as well as overseeing investments.
An advocate for investment opportunities for women, Jackson is also a founding member of Fund Her North. Fund Her North is an investment collective that brings women together in the investment industry to support female founders.
We found out how a recent week in her life went…
Now I’m not one to pretend I’m up at 5am with a kale smoothie and a half marathon pre work. My morning looks like a nice cup of tea, a bit of fresh air and some peace and quiet to catch up on emails and plan my week ahead. Mondays are mainly about catching up with the team. My role is all about strategic thinking and decisions, so working with my team on bespoke strategies to help our clients scale up and achieve follow-on investment for future growth is super important.
One of our clients, Xploro, is doing incredibly well after receiving investment and has recently started working on trials with specialist US children’s hospitals. A brainstorm with the team to map out how we can best support the business from its North-West roots through to its international expansion is so exciting. Monday tends to be my busiest day, but I love the buzz and it speeds by! Before I know it, I’m back on the sofa winding down, feeling positive about the week ahead.
I spend a lot of time supporting our clients post-investment, offering access to a network of Non-Executive Directors to support our portfolio businesses as they grow. But I’m also passionate about doing whatever I can to support businesses in search for investment, especially those with female founders.
This Tuesday I’m planning for the upcoming Later Pitches event, which I set up to offer a safe space for entrepreneurs to practice their pitches in a welcoming and inclusive environment. Think the opposite of Dragon’s Den – open, non-scary, honest, and constructive feedback with no pressure to get it right!
Our partners at NatWest have kindly offered to provide catering at this event with some pretty amazing looking street food and drinks to get the networking going off with a bang, so I’m very much looking forward to this one. After some more meetings about upcoming investments, operational strategies and catching up with universities I work closely with, it’s already 5.30pm! This evening I’m heading to the brilliant Mackie Mayor for a bit of networking with Fund Her North and communities of female entrepreneurs – I love a networking dinner, it’s a great opportunity to troubleshoot, collaborate and build important relationships, over some delicious food of course.
The morning kicks off with a very exciting meeting. We’ve recently partnered with global start-up investment bank JPIN and are working on strengthening the Manchester-India pathway through innovation and investment. It’s something I am so proud of, over the years we have established close co-investment links with key Greater Manchester funding bodies but to take this further with international connections, that will in turn improve economic growth in the North, is fabulous.
I mainly work from home nowadays but Wednesday is a good day to head to a co-working space in the afternoon and hold some meetings in person. I’m all about flexibility, but having the chance to speak to my team in person is super important. Lunch comes round fast, and since I’m in the city centre today I meet with the Women Angels of the North ladies in a café, to chat all things raising investment to close the female funding gap. It is amazing to be surrounded by inspiring women who all want to make a significant difference and offer a fresh approach to investing in female founders, so I return to my laptop feeling energised for the rest of the afternoon.
Thursdays are often busy with events, and something I’m super passionate about is championing diversity across the investment industry. There’s nothing better than being able to hear first-hand from Greater Manchester’s amazing entrepreneurial community and work towards making a real difference!
This one was a virtual panel with African Business Chamber’s Greater Manchester Business Forum, which I’m honoured to be part of alongside some top names from EY, NatWest Group and EnterprisingYou. It’s great to be on the panel, speaking about how investors can do more to broaden deal flow pipelines and ensuring our portfolio always reflects the regions we invest in.
I always feel energised after speaking at events, virtual or in-person, after hearing from some pretty inspiring people as well as chatting to attendees about their own businesses.
It’s been a hectic but productive week for sure. Fridays are all about tying up loose ends, having a bit of downtime to focus after lots of meetings and events throughout the week.
Fridays are also great for reflection and pipeline planning. We’ve recently been named as 13th active angel network in the UK by Beauhurst data. The findings show that active angel investors are largely based in London and Edinburgh, so outside of these two markets we would rank as the fifth most active investor. It’s something that fills me with joy and is a real testament to the work we do in Greater Manchester, so I like to spend some time on Friday’s forward planning how we can continue to make such an impact.
In the spirit of work life balance, I always try to finish early, getting excited about the weekend ahead – switching off, relaxing, a nice glass of wine, spending time with loved ones and recharging those batteries ready for another week!