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My Impact Investor Challenge Experience: An Interview with Sydney Wanchulak

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Blog Banner: My Impact Investor Challenge Experience interview - photo of Sydney Wanchulak

At Spring Activator, we want to make supporting impact startups accessible to anyone, regardless of whether you’re an accredited investor or aspiring to become one.

For Sydney Wanchulak, Impact & Sustainability Manager at NorLand Limited, joining the investor track of our fall 2021 Impact Investor Challenge was a foray into finding out more about how she could make an impact through supporting purpose-driven businesses. The experience provided her with an opportunity to meet and learn about impact businesses, and it also enabled her to make a guided investment into not one but TWO impact startups—Viridis Research Inc. and Brave Technology Coop—that ended up being awarded investments by the cohort. 

We sat down with Sydney to learn more about what motivated her to join the program and her journey throughout it. From discovering the fact that it was possible to invest in an early-stage startup without being a millionaire to being able to utilize her learnings in her role as an impact professional, read on about Sydney’s Impact Investor Challenge experience below!

Sydney's Impact Investor Challenge Experience

What is your relationship to impact?

I am a diehard impact fan. I want to help leave this world better than I found it, and I see a great way to do this is to invest my money into companies that are making more of a difference than I can on my own.

How did your journey into impact investing start before enrolling in the Impact Investor Challenge program?

I have been investing in stocks over the past few years, and the majority of the businesses I invest in are driven by impact or sustainability.

However, there is a full spectrum of these types of businesses. After learning about the Impact Investor Challenge program, I knew that I could feed two birds with one scone by learning more in-depth about impact companies and the types that are out there, and then being able to invest one.

What were your goals going into the program and what were you seeking to gain out of it?

I could invest in a startup without being a millionaire!

Ever since I learned about angel investing (about 5 years ago), I’ve always wanted to be able to do it. Since I am not even close to being a millionaire, finding out about the Impact Investor Challenge program greatly captured my interest, as I could invest in a startup without being a millionaire!

My goals were to learn about investing, the different types of impact companies, and start building my startup impact investing portfolio. I still have a long way to go in terms of my investment knowledge, but I’m now able to start building my portfolio.

What was your most important takeaway from the Impact Investor Challenge experience and why?

That impact companies come in all forms, and it’s not a crazy wish to create companies that are making a difference in this world—whether it be for social or environmental reasons. It is achievable!

How did learning from and with a diverse group of investors contribute to your experience?

Leaning on others in my group for information and due diligence was very helpful.

Being with a group of investors was so helpful, as this was my first startup investment and I wasn’t too sure what I needed to know. Leaning on others in my group for information and due diligence was very helpful, and all along the way, I could ask them questions if I didn’t understand something.

What excites you about the company that received the $100,000 grand prize—Viridis Research Inc.?

[Dr. Macarena Cataldo-Hernandez] is such a passionate entrepreneur and I believe she will take this company all the way.

The technology of Viridis Research is amazing! I use laundry bags to reduce my microplastics, and sometimes I’m not sure how much good they really do (besides protecting my clothes), so having a technology that attaches directly to washing machines and cleans all water going out solves this problem easily. Microplastics aren’t talked about very much, but the negative impact that they have on our environment and health is increasing drastically.

Did you gain learnings that you’ve been able to actively implement in practice in your role as an impact professional?

Yes, the understanding of different types of impact businesses has truly helped me in my role. It allows me to see what category our company falls into, and helps set realistic expectations for where we can go.

What are your next steps forward and future goals as relates to impact investing?

I’m excited to see which startups will be in the next cohort and to be able to see the Top 20 pitch, and then the Top 5 companies that make it through into the core program. I will be keeping a close eye on the winners to see if any investments pique my interest!

What would you recommend to others considering enrolling in the Impact Investor Challenge program?

If you are looking to invest in startups but aren’t a millionaire and want to learn more about investing and the lingo involved, then take a look at this course and talk to the Spring Activator team! As in all courses, you get out of it what you put into it, and if you’re impact-driven, this is for you.

Find out more about our Impact Investor Challenge and join one of our next intakes!

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