Social Impact Investing

Social impact panel

Wed, August 10, 2016 talk at Trust Center


Social Impact does not = philanthropy

  • Social impact is built in the business – it’s what you do and what you deliver and how that is embedded in your everyday operations. For example:
    • Managing smart supply chain (resource efficiency)
    • Fair HR wages
    • Product integrity
    • Diversity
    • Governance
    • Clean energy

Investing in social impact companies

  • “If you do well you can do good” – financial matrices matter!
    • You need to have solid KPIs to have a business impact. Revenue, customers sold, what resources you’re providing that were is not available without your service
  • Investors are looking to solve an underserved problem. They look for companies that address problems with broad reach, that offer solution that might actually solve them efficiently and that their entrepreneurs are fully engaged.
    • Founders with very different goals might create a challenge. Same is for partnerships and 3rd party entities
    • Know your market and local problems – investors are looking to invest in deals that solve local problems that are different than the types of problems that VCs usually invest in (beyond the Cambridge, NY, SF scope)
  • These markets are less obvious and more risky.
    • Investors will need to see a proven impact that can be measured by KPIs. How many people you’re helping by allowing access to your technology?
    • Make sure your idea is clear - these initiatives tend to be very complex. If you can’t explain your product in 30 seconds or less, people will not get it.
  • Data and transparency - If you create social impact, make sure you demonstrate it and provide the data to support it.

General take aways

  • Almost anything you can think of most likely already exists. It’s all about the execution!
  • Don’t underestimate the power of diversity - having diversity in your workplace will give great added value to your creativity, and to internal work relations and collaboration.
  • Spend time networking. Network is critical for all stages of your business so invest your time in developing relationships.
  • Get things done and stick with your idea for the long term.
  • Live with your customers! Deeply intimately live the customers’ problems.
    • This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to experience this problem yourself but you need to really know the customers problems in depth
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