“Can we Marie Kondo our money and investments? How much is enough?”
This thought posed by Kristen Hull, Founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital, struck me while she and Joel Solomon, Founding Partner of Renewal Funds kicked off the opening session of One World Training and Investment’s 2019 Bay Area Impact Summit last March. This idea to apply the KonMari method to one’s belongings has become ubiquitous because of the Netflix special, but to Kristen’s point, we should really be thinking about applying it to how we invest our money in order to declutter, be more aware and be intentional with our investments. Too often, we are putting our money in to funds and investments in which we are too far removed from how our money is being spent, and often not realizing the impact of those dollars.
One World Training and Investment’s Bay Area Impact Summit (#BAIS19) was held on March 19, 2019 and was a convening of over 150 representatives from the Bay Area’s impact investing ecosystem, bringing together angel investors, impact investors, family office representatives, foundations, fund managers, ecosystem builders, social entrepreneurs, and as Angie Mertens of One World Training affectionately stated, the “impact curious.” Among the social entrepreneurs present in the room were those in Miller Center’s current 2019 GSBI®️ Online cohort in our Bay Area affinity group. In addition to the thought provoking opening panel mentioned above, the summit’s programming consisted of breakout sessions, pitches from Bay Area-based social entrepreneurs and networking opportunities.
The pitch sessions included feedback given to each pitch, which was not only helpful for the pitching entrepreneur, but for others in the room to learn from their peers. Some of my takeaways that were given to the entrepreneurs from the feedback panel and throughout the day were:
You are making an offering of a solution, not just “asking for money.” Emphasize what the consequence of not investing in your company means and what the world looks like without it.
Make sure your passion shines through in pitches.
Research the people you are pitching to so you understand your audience and can make sure to hit on points that speak to them.
If reaching out to a connection that can help your business, personalized emails go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to highlight your amazing team and why they are best suited to do what you are doing.
(The following two tips are from Ha Nguyen of Spero Ventures) Traction is critical. Investors need proof there is a demand for your offering (ie. the dog will eat the dog food), that early customers love your product, that you can execute with speed. Your passion and connection to your mission are important, but your ability to validate your hypotheses and show early indicators of getting to product-market fit is even more critical.
Understand the "sweet spot" of investment for investors you pitch. As a founder, your most precious resource is your time. Don't waste time chasing down Series A investors if all you have is a beta product and some pilot customers. Do your research and know whether that investor invests at your stage of company.
Kristen’s opening point about being more impact focused in our investments is especially important in the Bay Area, where there are too many living in poverty and without access to basic resources. In an area where startups and innovation are abound, our entrepreneurs in the Bay Area affinity group are unique in they are using an entrepreneurial mindset in order to overcome issues that the SF Bay Area is facing, from closing the talent gap in the workforce, creating more diversity within tech jobs, and engaging underrepresented youth in STEM. If we can all be more mindful in supporting and investing in such entrepreneurs, we can “spark joy” in our financial investments and influence society in positive ways.
See the list below to learn more about the entrepreneurs in our 2019 Bay Area affinity group and how they are changing the Bay Area we live in.
Courtenay Carr Heuer of Scientific Adventures for Girls, Oakland, CA - SAFG's mission is to keep kids, especially girls and underserved youth (starting at the age of 5), engaged in STEM for the long term, either as professionals in STEM fields or as contributing members of the global community with a strong background
If you want to be a part of a convening in the Bay Area of stakeholders taking action around the challenges and opportunity in funding and accelerating the seed stage of the social impact ecosystem, join me and some of our GSBI entrepreneurs at the SEED Conference taking place May 20-21, 2019 in San Francisco. Sign up for 50% off your ticket by using the code SEEDProgramPartnerVIP or using this registration link. I hope to see you in San Francisco!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dolly Ngo is a Program Manager at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship where she is responsible for successful execution of GSBI accelerator programs by being a bridge between social entrepreneurs and the resources they need to advance their solutions to global challenges. Prior to joining Miller Center, Dolly was an Operations Manager at GSBI alumni Good World Solutions, where she partnered with brands to utilize mobile technology to survey factory workers in Asia and promote worker voice in supply chains. In addition to her program management and social impact experience, Dolly has a background in medical devices as a quality engineer. She holds a BS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, and is fluent in Vietnamese.