(Bloomberg News)  Sarah Endline asked Golden Seeds, a group of mostly women angel investors, to help contribute $1.5 million to expand her candy company. She sweetened her pitch with samples of dark cacao pieces, about 1 calorie each.

Turning to Golden Seeds again yesterday was a natural choice, said Endline, 39, because "we're a women-powered, women-certified company whose core consumer is women." Endline, who got her MBA from Harvard Business School and worked at Yahoo! Inc. in marketing before launching sweetriot in 2005, already received about $1.5 million from the group, and other investors, in 2007.

Golden Seeds, based in New York, is one of the largest angel groups in the country and is focused on supporting companies led by women. The group is helping to add more women to the ranks of investors in startups. That's key to helping female entrepreneurs since six years of survey data on angel investing found that women entrepreneurs were more likely to seek funding from groups with a higher number of female investors, said Jeffrey Sohl, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Thirteen percent of women entrepreneurs who asked for money from angel investors received it in 2010 compared with an overall rate of 18.4%, based on data from the Center for Venture Research.

"Many women entrepreneurs trying to get financing from a small number of women angels results in a lower success rate," said Sohl, referring to funding. "One of the goals is to get more women angels."

Women Angels

There are nine U.S. women-focused groups of angel investors, who generally invest their own money in early stage companies, said Marianne Hudson, executive director of the Overland Park, Kansas-based Angel Capital Association, an industry trade organization with 162 member groups. Angels are different from venture capitalists, who tend to manage a pool of investors' money and give larger amounts to more established companies, Hudson said.

There were 265,400 angel investors in 2010 and they put $20.1 billion in 61,900 entrepreneurial ventures in the U.S., the Center for Venture Research said. Women represented about 13% of angel investors and female entrepreneurs accounted for 21% of those seeking angel capital.

Some of the companies that Golden Seeds backs offer products that target and understand women, which is a prudent investment strategy, said Deborah Jackson, who worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. from 1980 to 1990 as a vice president and joined Golden Seeds in 2009. Sweetriot, Endline's company, creates fair trade, organic chocolates in bite-sized portions.

Lack Of Access

Another company seeking funding at yesterday's forum, held in midtown Manhattan, is a platform for personal clothing stylists, fronted by Stacy London, who co-hosts the television show, "What Not to Wear" on the TLC network.