Authored by SVC Team Member Jill Newbold
My colleague Emily Winslow and I attended this year’s Angel Capital Association Summit in Chicago during the last week of April. We saw many SVC members, and met new investors who would like to be a part of our work as well!
The opening keynote featured the inspiring Carla Harris, Vice Chair of Morgan Stanley. She discussed the IPO Market and reflections on Early-Stage Investing. When assessing early stage investment opportunities, she keeps these 4R’s in mind:
- Resilience – Have they failed and come back?
- Resourcefulness – Are they coachable, tap their networks, and able to pivot if necessary?
- Resistance to style drift – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
- Risk orientation – Are they able to keep a foot on the gas, and yet manage burn out? Do they still Want It?
These 4R’s reminded me a lot of Social Venture Circle’s network and the special group of people who make up our membership, and/or #fundedbySVC entrepreneurs.
But what really got Carla fired up was sharing a new program that she and others started at Morgan Stanley, an accelerator called the Multicultural Innovation Lab.
The program is three years in the making and targets companies with a multicultural or woman founder, co-founder, CTO, or other C-suite members that are developing innovative solutions across sectors. They’ve just announced the companies in their third cohort. When asked about impact investments, Carla shared that they’ll be holding “at least one, probably three” spots for the 2020 cohort for companies working on solutions for plastic waste.
This was year 2 of ACA offering an Impact track. Topics ranged from Measuring Impact & Returns to The Future is Female. I sat on a panel with Jessica Yagan Droste, a previous SVC member with Impact Engine, discussing What Exactly is Impact Investing?
During my presentation, I shared the example of a #FundedbySVC company called Edovo, a successful Chicago-based company offering an educational tool and low-cost communications for incarcerated individuals and their families. Impact Engine is also an investor in this company. Enterprises like Edovo provide solutions to help our societies grow in a healthier way, by providing not only hope, but a practical tool that encourages rehabilitation back into society.
These are the kinds of enterprises, I noted, that impact investments help to fund. It is not solely about a financial return, but a deeper investment in the greater good.
On our panel, we also highlighted the importance of the team approach to impact investing and working with other angel groups on investing in companies through shared due diligence, co-investment, and syndication. At most SVC local networks, interested members work as a team to break up due diligence in different parts, so that no one person is left with all the legwork and research. In this team effort, all parties work to agree on the terms and valuation, and agree that the impact of the enterprise in consideration is a worthwhile investment.
We also discussed a fresh perspective on company exits to corporate entities, such as the Unilever acquisition of SVC companies Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation, which provides an internal influence on impact within this large Fortune 500 company. Personally, I believe that when companies acquire SVC companies and move the needle even 1% towards more sustainable practices, it makes a significant difference. Thus, I believe acquisitions like these are a worthwhile goal.
Finally, Emily and I facilitated the ACA affinity dinner series on the topic of Impact Investing at a nearby restaurant. This left us both feeling optimistic about the importance of social enterprises and the angel community’s interest in impact. We sold out all 28 attendee spots, and spent the evening connecting with old friends and making new ones who, like us, are passionate about the NEXT Economy – one that is regenerative, equitable, and prosperous for all.
Were you at ACA and/or interested in impact investments? Running an impact enterprise and looking for a community of like-minded entrepreneurs? Feel free to reach out to connect with me further at: [email protected]