Proving the Impact Business Model:
10 Years of Spring

Welcome

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and are deeply grateful that we are situated on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, as well as the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. We do not take this lightly and understand the role we hold in engaging in ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous communities. 

As an organization that is connected across this country and this planet, we are learning and unlearning the truth of the history of Indigenous peoples here in Canada and beyond. We recognize the injustices that these communities have faced and are seeking to create equity for all through the work we have the privilege of doing on this land.

As we look forward to the future of impact together, we invite you to extend this land acknowledgement into a land engagement. There are many opportunities to support our local Indigenous communities with time, money and other resources to honour and respect these lands through responsible citizenship.

Engagement Opportunities

A forest of tall coniferous trees on a day meets the shoreline on a day with blue skies and small clouds. In the background are undulating tree-lined mountains.
Image: Paulina Otylia, Gitxaala Nation. Courtesy of RAVEN.

Welcome from Tina Ippel, Director of Operations

Hello from our CEOs

It’s still hitting me that Spring has been creating impact for 10 years already. When we launched Spring 10 years ago we started with a simple, but audacious goal- to change the world with innovation. An equitable world where every business is an impact business and every investor is an impact investor.

For Spring, we believe that means building and nourishing the marketplace that is at the intersection of impact innovation and impact capital. To do this, we knew we needed to first support the community of founders, entrepreneurs, and businesses and we focused on our first four years with incubation, acceleration, and investment readiness. Starting in 2019, we began to embrace the investor community, and now spend equal time and effort cultivating both of these communities and fostering the right connections and the right time to catalyze impact. 

Fast forward to today: with more than 2,700 founders and 900 investors supported, Spring remains grounded on delivering what our communities need, when they need it. We have continued to evolve and innovate, including programs focused on immigrant and underserved communities, the launch of the Spring Collective and the Spring Impact Capital Fund, and the acquisition of Future Capital. As we head into this next decade, we’re poised and ready to support the scaling of businesses and impact alike across Canada and beyond. 

–Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

When moving from the UK five years ago, I Googled “impact”, “entrepreneurs” and “Canada”. Spring and Keith Ippel was the resounding answer. (And that was before Spring had done any SEO or Google ads….) I knew this was the community I wanted to be a part of and contribute to.

Entrepreneurial, always learning, improving and proving it with results- Keith’s values and vision underpin Spring’s incredible growth & impact over the past 10 years. Each chapter started with a market gap: supporting early-stage entrepreneurs wanting to make the world a better place through their businesses.

As all entrepreneurs and scaling companies do, we too have had our fair share of growing pains and lessons learned along the way. Fortunately, Spring is powered by an incredible team that, individually and collectively, inspires me daily on what is possible when you build an inclusive, humble and mission-driven business that’s designed to make the world a better place.

– Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and a green button-up shirt, and Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing a colourful pastel cardigan, smile at the camera against a dark green background.
Keith Ippel & Caroline von Hirschberg

In the Beginning… There was Keith

Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and green button-down shirt, smiles with arms crossed.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years … Spring has been an interesting organization in that we have had so many powerful, impactful people who have been a part of our community, both as employees as well as as partners, and as well as customers.

We’re very fortunate to have all of those partners who have supported us on the journey. Because really, our world is not only that intersection between impact entrepreneurship and impact capital, but financial institutions, venture capital funds, angel groups, universities, ecosystems, support organizations and innovation houses. There’s a full ecosystem of support around impact. And we’ve been very fortunate not only to be a part of it, but to be supported by it.”

– Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

Spring Milestone

January 17, 2014

Spring is Incorporated

Spring was launched to respond to a growing need in the global community for support programs designed to encourage, initiate and accelerate the development of organizations creating a positive impact. It was created to help technology-driven entrepreneurs find their voice in impact, and to help impact entrepreneurs access the tools & resources traditionally afforded to the tech community.

We began by licensing and offering Fledge LLC’s “Kick” incubator program, which assisted entrepreneurs in the development of their startups. We went on to launch the “Capital Raising Bootcamp”, an intensive initiative designed to train and support impact entrepreneurs through their first equity capital raise and we launched our first funding roundtables. Through these programs, we supported over 160 entrepreneurs in sectors across health, education, energy, sustainability, agriculture, food, manufacturing and more and our companies raised more than $3M in capital.

Before Spring was Spring

Spring wasn’t actually “Spring” from the start, as you can see from our original incorporation document. We knew what we wanted to do, and wanted to get down to the business of doing it, so we started out as Beeker Activator Inc. as a holding name. It was a way for us to set up a legal entity and do the impact work we wanted to do while allowing the naming process to be organic without time constraints.

We started what became a five-month process of coming up with different names, checking if their web domains and social media handles were available, and taking the time to sleep on it and to see if we still liked our options. As you can imagine, there was a lot of debate back and forth amongst the team. 

As we experimented and explored, “Spring” came into the mix and floated to the top. We liked its esoteric connotations: new beginnings, growth, green and everything else it represents. That, in combination with it being a single syllable that everyone can spell, made it a great name.

At that time the “.is” domain, owned by Iceland, was just becoming available to the world. Google had tagged it as something they would look to optimize in SEO. So we went to the Iceland domain website and spring.is was available … on a site that was completely in Icelandic. 

We had to guess what we were filling out on the Icelandic form but in the end, we got it. We also had no idea what we had paid for it. Fortunately it turned out to only be €40, so it was money well spent, even if we had to pretend to understand Icelandic. 

Spring’s original Certificate of Incorporation from 2014 under the name Beeker Activator Inc.
Certificate of Incorporation under a different name
Spring’s first Instagram post: the word “Spring.” on a green background with the caption “Hello world!”
Our first Instagram post as Spring
Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and a grey t-shirt, smiles at the camera.
The headshot Keith used for YEARS AND YEARS

Innovate Like You Mean It

Right from the start, Spring existed to change the world through innovation. We work with entrepreneurs, investors, partners and more to foster innovation with purpose by aligning methodologies, joining networks and offering needed resources to entrepreneurs solving the most pressing challenges for people and the planet.

Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing a pastel cardigan, smiles while looking off-camera.

“At Spring, how innovation comes alive for me is through our values, the ‘be entrepreneurial’ piece. At the start, all of us were entrepreneurs, and we definitely have a lot of people who have co-founded businesses, have side hustles. And so we really understand what it takes to set up a business, but also to be agile and and always be improving, always be testing, learning and iterating.

– Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and green button-down shirt, smiles with arms crossed.

“I think about innovation at a couple of levels at Spring. One is at the entrepreneur investor level. Watching the entrepreneurs and how they are innovating to solve the world’s biggest problems, and how we support that. Part of that process is watching how people are employing new technologies in different ways to really scale impact, how that’s being supported financially by investors.

– Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

Here are just some of the fascinating companies we’ve supported over the years who continue inspiring us with their innovative solutions to big challenges:

Open Ocean Robotics logo

Open Ocean Robotics

Hardware, software and data that protects the world’s oceans

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VoxCell BioInnovation

3D printing human tissue to get cancer medication to patients sooner.

UVX logo

UVX

Using UV light to safely disinfect both the air and surfaces while people are present.

Circulus Agtech logo

Circulus Agtech

Upcycling organic waste into precise, pathogen free liquid fertilizer.

ChopValue logo

ChopValue

Massive logistics and business model innovation to make upcycling possible.

Arbutus Medical logo

Arbutus Medical

Simplifying orthopedic surgery for efficiency, reliability and affordability.

Rainstick logo

RainStick

Eco-friendly shower system that uses up to 80% less water and energy.

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Binners’ Project

Improving economic opportunities & reducing the stigma for informal recyclable collectors.

ehsAI logo

ehsAI

AI empowered environmental, health and safety compliance. Acquired by Intelex.

Poparide logo

Poparide

North America’s first one way rideshare between cities.

Keela logo

Keela

Fundraising CRM uniting nonprofit & donor communications to improve donor relations.

HAVEN logo

Haven

Smart indoor air quality management to maintain filtration, ventilation and humidity control.

Innovate Like You Mean It

Spring Milestone

2016

Spring gets a Kick

We acquired the Kick Incubator as part of a prolific programming phase, including diverse cohorts that supported over 240 entrepreneurs. Spring led the VanImpact Summit as part of the inaugural Vancouver Startup Week and did its first global work in the Western Balkans.

Focusing on Founders

Supporting impact-driven founders has been at the core of Spring’s focus since we began by offering the Kick business incubator in 2014. Back then it was about supporting people who were getting into impact entrepreneurship for the first time. 

As the impact business ecosystem grew, the founders’ needs evolved. We expanded to include accelerator programs that nurtured businesses as they grew and their needs became more complex. As we grew alongside these companies, we began looking at who these founders were and whether a diverse range of founders were getting the specific support they needed to thrive. This led to where we are today, weaving diversity, equity & inclusion throughout our programming to thoughtfully create space for underrepresented founders.

“What I love about what the team has been doing is really be intentionally designing the programs, not just the content, but also the format of how people are engaging. What is the community of mentors, coaches and experts that are supporting them? How do we create psychologically safe spaces for the investors and the entrepreneurs to interact, ultimately bringing to life a program and an experience that really feels meaningful and supportive?”

–Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing a pastel cardigan, smiles at a person next to her.

Being an Impact Founder

Founder Spotlights

Open Ocean Robotics: Julie Angus

VoxCell BioInnovation: Dr. Karolina Valente

Farmer’s Truck: Frederic Laforge

GotCare: Chenny Xia

Circulus Agtech: David Leroux

Lux Bio: Paige Whitehead

Laid Back Snacks: Neil Thomson

Food Mesh: Jessica Regan

Viridis Research: Dr. Macarena Cataldo-Hernandez

Creating an Impact Ecosystem

  • 3,320

    Total Founder program alumni

  • 3,104

    Entrepreneurs impacted

  • 310

    Average per year

Nurturing Founders Over the Years

  • 2,097

    Supported in 2014-2021

  • 571

    Supported in 2022

  • 436

    Supported in 2023

2022 Founder Demographics

  • 33%

    Female founders

  • 30%

    BIPOC founders

  • 16%

    Immigrant founders

2023 Founder Demographics

  • 42%

    Female founders

  • 41%

    BIPOC founders

  • 25%

    Immigrant founders

Spring Milestone

2017

We put the “B” in Spring

We got certified as a B Corp to take a huge step forward in measuring our impact and being accountable. We created roundtables with curated groups of entrepreneurs meeting on a regular basis for ongoing support, problem solving and leadership development. We also expanded our global work to include Latin America and hosted over 400 people at the second annual VanImpact Summit.

Investing with Purpose

What is Impact Investing?

We can’t change the inequities in who receives VC funding without first expanding the definition of who can be an investor while redefining the metrics of a successful investment. When we diversify who is coming to the table with money, along with their range of priorities, we’re simultaneously diversifying the types of solutions being funded.

Over our 10 years, we have developed a robust structure that creates space for anyone and everyone to learn how to become an impact investor. By integrating our programming and networks with Future Capital, we now offer opportunities for every level of experience. Whether you’re just curious and checking it out, participating as a non-accredited investor or newly accredited investor, or a seasoned long term investor looking to add impact to your portfolio, we have the courses, challenges, communities and capital funds you need. THIS is how we shift the investment ecosystem to solve the critical issues being reimagined by a diverse range of founders.

Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and green button-down shirt, smiles with arms crossed.

Throughout our journey, what was very interesting is that at the end of the first year, a lot of entrepreneurs were like, can you help us raise money? Can you help us to finish our round? And so it was quite interesting, because we actually very reluctantly got into that space. And, and as we started to get into it, that’s actually how that side of the business really started to blossom, because we did see that there was a clear need, like a real need. And also there was a way for us to add value and to be supportive.

We first started to do our work with impact investors back in late 2018. And as soon as we started to do that, we saw the demand for it. And we saw people who were hungry to invest, repurpose. And so that’s when we added investor events. We added our first Impact Investor Challenge. And that’s really helped build out that entire side of the Spring business that has since then included the launch of the Spring Collective and also the launch of the Spring Impact Capital Fund.

–Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

Investor Spotlights

Investing with Purpose: Anna Chan

Investing with Purpose: Geo Feil

Investors by the Numbers

  • 256

    Investors engaged via our Impact Investor Challenges (IICs)

  • 14

    IIC Cohorts

  • $2M+

    Directly invested through our IICs

  • ~$20M

    Catalyzed via our Investment Readiness Programs (excluding IICs)

  • ~$27M

    Catalyzed through IICs

  • ~$47M

    Catalyzed via all investment readiness programs (including IICs)

2022 Investor Demographics

  • 42%

    Female investors

  • 32%

    BIPOC investors

  • 50%

    Non-accredited investors

2023 Investor Demographics

  • 42%

    Female investors

  • 22%

    BIPOC investors

  • 55%

    Non-accredited investors

Spring Milestone

2019

First Impact Investor Challenge (IIC)

Our Impact Investor Challenge launched in 2019, with Open Ocean Robotics taking home the first ever IIC investment of over $100,000. We also hosted our first autism incubator program, did global work in Lima, Balkans, Serbia, Vietnam and worked with the Vancouver Economic Commission on capital training and investment readiness programming.

Proving the Model

Proving the Model

Keith Ippel, a man wearing glasses and a blue striped button-down shirt

We really believe that if we’re helping impact entrepreneurs and impact investors, we have to walk the talk, we have to show people that an organization can be a vibrant impact organization and make money.

Proving the model is really important, and I think now we have acted as that role model for others who can step into it as well.

–Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

Spring wouldn’t be true to itself if our vision was for a world where every business is an impact business and every investor is an impact investor, but we ourselves weren’t also an impact business with investors. That’s why Spring has always been a for profit entity. 

In 2016, two years into our operations, we made a decision to raise an investment round. We did it both to fuel the growth of Spring, but even more importantly to create a template in the market for how an investment could be done in an impact organization that was not designed to go venture scale.

We set it up as a redeemable share structure, which is a form of revenue-backed capital. Our investors put their investments in a special class of shares that was then repurchased by the company over time through a percentage of revenue. In Spring’s case, we chose to offer 3X total return with no time limit for repayment, which would allow the company to grow in the way that needed to from a timeline perspective. This would also provide not only an acceptable rate of return for the investors but also demonstrate how a good rate of return could be achieved by an impact venture.

When we first took on the investment, Spring had a team of just 4 people and we were only working in the Vancouver ecosystem. In June 2023, seven years later, we did a full redemption of those shares at that 3X return for those investors. This investment and time enabled us to build a team of 35, support over 2,000 founders, work in more than 60 communities in Canada & globally, launch the Spring Collective national impact investor network and launch our VC fund, Spring Impact Capital. 

This investment was not just an opportunity to fuel the growth of Spring, but also to have a group of incredible impact investors come alongside us to provide them with a great return while also knowing their investment was scaling impact. Massive impact was created by this investment using this creative structure and we’re proud to share about it in hopes that more companies and investors will be able to create their own impactful structures. 

Spring Milestone

2018

Launch of Our Startup Visa Program

We were the first in Canada to focus on global impact businesses looking to move to Canada and making the world a better place through their ventures. We expanded our roundtable offering, running 14 of them and supporting 130+ impact founders and leaders.

We started providing deeper advisory and consulting support, completing projects in the Balkans, Zurich, Vietnam, Peru, Nicaragua and parts of South-East Asia. 2018 ended with our first Impact Investing social, hosting 100 investors in Vancouver and validating the interest in impact investing.

Nurturing New Canadians

Nurturing New Canadians

Our Impact Startup Visa program launched in 2017 with our first cohort of international entrepreneurs. It’s designed to help founders from around the world bring their purpose-driven company to Canada. We provide participants with business training and guidance, as well as connecting them to a supportive community to welcome them to their new home. 

There have been 18 more cohorts since the program launched, as we continue increasing the number of sessions each year. We’ve also added a Premium program for those who want an increased level of services and support as they make the bold transition to moving themselves, their family and their business across the world. 

Of course, once they’re here, they have access to the full scope of Spring programs, events and connections they need to grow their impact business in a new market. It means so much to us to be able to help these newcomers as they bring their dynamic companies into the Canadian economy, making a positive difference for people and the planet

Spring Impact Startup Visa logo
Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing glasses and a green cardigan.

It always amazes me how many countries these immigrant entrepreneurs are coming from, and the ways in which we can support them, because often they’re representing very different industries, different business models. But at the core, what keeps us all together is the fact that all of us are building a business that has a sustainable impact for people or the planet. It’s just such a pleasure to be part of that journey, making the bold decision to move to Canada and seeing how we can support them.

–Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

ISV Alumni: Avo & Eve’s Leon Vercueil

ISV Alumni: WingZ’s Hossein Rezai

ISV by the Numbers

  • 19

    Cohorts since 2017

  • 345

    ISV Alumni in total

  • 39

    Countries of origin (ISV Alumni + team members)

ISV Alumni from Around the Globe

impact-report-map-staff-locations final
Spring Milestone

2020

We made a bad time less-terrible

Responding to the chaos and uncertainty of THAT year, we developed the Business Resilience Program to provide partner-funded and independent support to small businesses as a result of needs arising due to COVID-19. This online learning platform engaged 270 communities across 55 countries. We also ran our first online Impact Investor Challenge, with Indiegraf taking home the investment prize.

Equity Squared

Equity Squared

“You can’t have impact without DEI. They are intrinsically linked. And so it is, from my perspective, not only an economic imperative, it’s a moral imperative … if we want to change the world, the only way that we can do that is bring a diversity of voices, a diversity of education, a diversity of upbringing, backgrounds. Every aspect of life can breed diversity, and we need to embrace that fully, both as entrepreneurs and as investors to actually change the world. And so for me, it is that there is no there is no impact without DEI period.”

-Keith Ippel, Co-CEO

“It’s such a no brainer. For me, building more diverse teams, building a more diverse and inclusive investor ecosystem is essential to achieving a positive social and environmental impact.”

-Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

A man in a button up polo wearing glasses, a women in a striped cardigan and a man with a beard wearing a polo shirt with their arms behind each other all smiling

It’s easy to look at the stats on investment in women-led companies and get completely discouraged. Only 2.4% of VC funding went to women founders in 2021 and that painfully small number actually decreased to just 1.9% in 2022. The situation is even worse for BIPOC women who make up a disproportionately low fraction of those stats. 

Instead of getting caught up in blame and disillusionment, Spring took action: we developed a national, action-oriented plan to improve investment in women and non-binary led companies. How? By training founders on investment readiness, while simultaneously training investors in impacting investing. After a highly successful 2022 Impact Investor Challenge won by game-changer VoxCell BioInnovation, we secured multi-year government funding from both the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to make the initiative a multi-year reality.

This past fall, the 2023 Women-Led Impact Investor Challenge convened a pool of new and experienced impact investors alongside 15 women-led, purpose-driven companies. The winner, Lite-1, raised $120K from the investor cohort and (pending DD) will receive a matching investment from BDC Thrive Lab in 2024. 

Our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging extends beyond one program. Our “You Belong” core value represents our active commitment to making everyone feel welcome, included and supported. This is embodied by our team and embedded in our programming, activities and purpose. We’re championing Equity Squared, giving both forms of equity – traditional financial equity and social equity – a role in providing underrepresented founders and investors with the specific support they need.

Our Founder Equity in 2022

  • 33%

    Female founders

  • 30%

    BIPOC founders

  • 16%

    Immigrant founders

Our Founder Equity in 2023

  • 42%

    Female founders

  • 41%

    BIPOC founders

  • 25%

    Immigrant founders

Future Capital x Spring

In 2023, Spring acquired Future Capital, the learning and investing platform built for underrepresented early-stage investors. With an impressive reputation for delivering high impact investor training, Future Capital has truly made a difference. Announced September 2023, the acquisition was a refreshing, good news story in a daunting financial landscape. The best part? Future Capital’s Founder & CEO, Marlon Thompson, joined Spring’s Executive Team as our Chief Experience Officer (CXO).

Marlon Thompson, a bearded man wearing a green sweater, seated and smiling

“Future Capital was born out of my own personal experience being someone in the venture capital space that is fairly underrepresented. So I think diversity, equity & inclusion was always at the center of everything that we did, and really creating a more diverse cohort of investors and really supporting a broader swath of the economy through more inclusive investment decisions. That was really the purpose of the work that we did and how it actually showed up was through capacity building, training and development, and really kind of giving folks the skills and the tools and the language required to participate in this asset class.

I think the acquisition of Future Capital is prioritizing underrepresented communities full stop. For me personally, I definitely always feel like I have a voice and a seat at the table. I think there’s a lot of trust in my vision and the vision that we have been executing on at Future Capital … the acquisition has allowed us to do more. And so when we do more, there’s more economic inclusion, because that is our sole purpose. I think the merging of minds, initiatives, programs and people has just allowed us to deepen our work.”

– Marlon Thompson, CXO

Future Capital Programming

  • 34

    Program Cohorts

  • 622

    Participants in total

  • 77.9%

    Women + Non-Binary participants

Spring Milestone

2021

Growing through adversity

We focused our activities into Entrepreneur, Investor & Ecosystem streams, expanded our Impact Startup Visa program to 2 cohorts a year and our team headcount jumped from 8 to 20, with the remote work landscape enabling us to add talent from Toronto and Oakland. We expanded our Impact Investor Challenge regionally and nationally, celebrating the fact that all 5 IIC winners to date were women-led companies. We also launched our first food incubation program for Black women entrepreneurs.

Doing Business Right

Spring Milestone

2022

We showed you the money

It was a big year for impact investing as we catalyzed over $17M in investment for companies in our Impact Investor Challenges. Across all of our programs we helped 571 entrepreneurs and trained 116 impact investors. In November, we launched the Collective, Spring’s impact investing network. We also expanded our immigrant entrepreneur work with the addition of an incubator stage program and our first Premium version of the Impact Startup Visa program.

Spring is a B Corp

B Corporations (B Corps) are a type of for-profit businesses that prioritize social and environmental responsibility alongside financial success.

Certified by the nonprofit organization B Lab, B Corps voluntarily meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. These companies commit to using their business as a force for good, considering the impact of their decisions on various stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities and the environment. B Corps represent a growing global movement of businesses that aim to balance purpose and profit to create a more sustainable and inclusive economy. 

Spring’s registration as a B Corp underscores its commitment to ethical business practices and positive contributions to society.

B Corp logo

  • 50.9%

    Median B Corp score for traditional businesses

  • 80%


    Minimum B Corp qualification score

  • 97.8%

    Spring’s 2021 B Corp score

Spring and the UN SDGs

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are one of the many guideposts we use to focus and assess our activities. We are directly active on these SDGs:

– 4: Quality Education
– 5: Gender Equality
– 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth
– 10: Reduced Inequalities
– 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Our work also fosters the enhancement of tech capability & progress while supporting the impact ecosystem to increase and strengthen their capacity and knowledge, connecting us to SDGs 9-12.

One of the best parts of working with such a compassionate, progressive and innovative community of founders and investors is that by supporting and empowering them, we are contributing to all 17 of the SDGs our world needs to improve and thrive.

Graphic depicting the UN Sustainable Development Goals Spring is working towards: 4: Quality Education; 5: Gender Equality; 8: Decent work and economic growth; 10: Reduced inequalities; 17: Partnerships for the goals

Putting Our Money Where Our Heart Is

1% for the Planet is an international organization founded on the idea that a company has a responsibility to give back for use of our planet’s resources. 

It does this through certifying members who contribute a minimum of 1% of their revenue to environmental partners to tackle climate change, pollution, deforestation and more. This commitment can also include volunteer hours and marketing support for environmental partners.

1% For the Planet Member logo

The Team That Makes it
Happen

We Are Spring

One clear indicator of Spring’s growgth over the last 10 years has been the increase in our number of team members. As we added new programs, expanded the volume of cohorts within programs and grew our impact, we needed even more fabulous people to bring the vision to life.

Spring’s Growing Team

Bar graph showing Spring head count. Values are as follows:
2014: 5
2015: 4
2016: 10
2017: 6
2018: 6
2019: 10
2020: 16
2021: 23
2022: 26
2023: 34
Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing glasses and a green cardigan.

It definitely struck me when I joined Spring how diverse it was, in terms of the different nationalities we all have, the languages we speak and our views on the world. And I love that because it really does mean that we have rich conversations in terms of how do we support entrepreneurs better? How do we reach more diverse entrepreneurs?

–Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO

Country of Origin

Ethnicity

Gender

Things You May Not Know About Us

Erin once won a rigged camel race in Australia and came in last in the unrigged final race.

Liv once snuck a pet snake on a plane in her sweater pocket after traveling with him for months doing science camps.

Standing tall at 5”4, Mari played competitive basketball in her teens hoping to eventually make the WNBA.

Davina worked in a social impact circus in Cambodia for 3 years, mostly dealing with investors but still, walking that “fine line”.

Selina grew up in a super-tiny town: Her high school had almost the same number of people as the town she lived in up until she was 8, and her university had more people than the second town she lived in up until she was 18.

Neema got invited to act with the Kenya National Theatre when only in high school. 

Allison starred in the pilot series for a TV show called “Fit Kids” where she was forced to wear bad wigs while educating children on living a healthy lifestyle.

Olivia moved to Bangkok at 22 when she graduated university, knowing no one with barely a penny in her pocket. She taught English to preschoolers for a quarter before jetting off to travel SE Asia (mostly) solo for 5 months.

Heena once crossed a land border illegally and walked through a land mine region to visit a school in Burma.

Loreen competed in three 24-hour relay races in Hong Kong to raise funds and awareness to combat human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Christine once drove a go-kart on the streets of (left-sided) Tokyo dressed as Toad from Super Mario.

Vanessa once took a stunt combat course led by one of the lead stunt coordinators on “The Revenant” (featuring Leonardo DiCaprio), learning the 8 ways to “fall” and how to “sell a fight scene” – she has the demo reel to prove it (hidden in a safe place never to be found)

Adaeze used to plan and manage huge weddings and events in Lagos and other states back home in Nigeria (The number of guests ranged from 500 – 3000).

Dil has spent her initial career working as a journalist and has been published through multiple outlets including MorrocoWorldNews.com (an online web-zine) and Desi Today, (a print magazine). 

Data accumulated by Kilimanjaro National Park indicates that less than 30% of people who attempt a five-day climb reach the top. Ashima summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 5 days. 12 weeks earlier, she ran her first Kilimanjaro half-marathon.

Natalie was the first baby of the millennium in Bahrain (and was in the newspaper for it too).

Nina auditioned for Little Miss Philippines – one of the top children’s pageant shows in the Philippines in 2001 and made it past the preliminary rounds but didn’t move on to the finals.

Amidst his music days with blond hair and high-profile gigs with Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and earning a Grammy nomination, Zav’s been consistently championing social impact.

Fabiola used to play judo and got up to the brown belt (the belt before the black one). 

Graham’s first job in impact investing was working for Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein. Our annual retreats in the Alps involved post-work Schnapps tasting, high speed tobogganing and dangerous bar games like Hammerschlagen… all creating their own type of sketchy impact.  

Tina was once sitting just a few tables away from David Bowie and Iman at a fancy venue in Monaco.

Caroline was once in a camping tent with world leaders ‘The Elders’ including Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and May Robinson.

Expanding Our Scope

This Is Us by the Numbers

Our Impact Highlights, 2014-now

  • 3,320

    Alumni in total (Entrepreneurs & Investors)

  • 3,104

    Entrepreneurs impacted in total

  • 240

    Impact Startup Visa alumni

  • 284

    Investor alumni from the Impact Investor Challenge

  • 256

    Unique investor alumni

  • $2M+

    Direct impact investment through the Impact Investor Challenge

Spring Collective logo

In 2022, we launched the Spring Collective, Canada’s only national network for impact investors. It’s a community where investors can connect, share knowledge and collaborate on investments together. The Collective is open to those new to investing or those who are more experienced and looking to scale up their impact-focused portfolio. 

Overall, the Collective aims to grow the pool of capital available for early stage purpose-driven founders by providing members with the reliable, vetted deal flow investors need to engage with impactful entrepreneurial solutions. We will be announcing our first 2024 investment soon and can’t wait for you to know who it is (but we have to wait until the announcement, sorry). 

A person wearing a blue patterned shirt and burgundy suit poses with a person wearing an orange button-up blouse

Some of Spring Collective’s Investments

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VoxCell BioInnovation

3D printing human tissue to get cancer medication to patients sooner.

Circulus Agtech logo

Circulus Agtech

Upcycling organic waste into precise, pathogen free liquid fertilizer.

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Save da Sea

Sustainable, plant-based seafood made from wholesome ingredients.

Spring Collective By the Numbers (2022-23)

  • 90

    Investors from across Canada

  • $830k

    Invested in 5 companies

  • 41%

    Female investors

Investment Spotlight: Save da Sea’s Aki Kaltenbach

Spring Impact Capital logo

In 2023, we launched Spring Impact Capital, our impact-focused venture capital fund that seeks to achieve market rate returns with greater purpose and meaning. Creating this $20M fund has been a massive undertaking, so we were excited to announce the closing of our first round in November 2023. We believe there is a significant, and often overlooked, opportunity to generate attractive returns and positive change by investing in early-stage Canadian businesses. 

With that in mind, Spring Impact Capital focuses on companies with values-driven, diverse leaders who are seeking to scale solutions where profitability aligns with positive results in human and/or planetary health. For example, many structural tailwinds are creating dynamic impact investment opportunities in climate and health. To get innovative Canadian companies the capital they need when they need it most, we aim to fill the gap in pre-seed and seed funding. 

Spring Impact Capital is led by Managing Partners Graham Day, Olivia Hornby and Keith Ippel. The fund’s first investment will be announced in early 2024, with a second funding announcement hot on its heels soon afterward.

Keith Ippel, wearing blue button-down shirt, Olivia Hornby, wearing purple blouse and grey cardigan, and Graham Day, wearing a purple button-down shirt
Spring Milestone

2023

An Acquisition, a Fund, & a Rebrand – OH MY!

A lot of BIG, exciting changes in 2023 created positive ripples through the impact community. We launched a venture capital fund, Spring Impact Capital, focused on investing in diverse founders with startups focused on human and planetary health. And we even ended up on the front of the Globe and Mail’s business section with the news that we acquired Future Capital to deepen the interconnection between diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging and impact in investment. We also grew to 35 team members (aka “Springers”), all across the country from Halifax and Vancouver Island with hubs in Vancouver and Toronto.

If that weren’t enough, we rebranded to a new, dynamic brand that reflects our energy moving forward. This included dropping “Activator” in our day-to-day operations and stepping forward with a bold new wordmark that identifies who we are today and moving forward: Spring.

The Road from Here

The Road from Here

Caroline von Hirschberg, a blonde woman wearing a pastel cardigan

“I’m planning our future strategy for supporting women led entrepreneurs, and other team members are working on similar approaches thinking about how do we meaningfully support black founders and the challenges they face? A broader community of BIPOC founders. Also those who are in more rural and remote communities? It’s a living and breathing piece and definitely is not done. I don’t think we’ll ever be done on that front. There’s always more work to be doing. How else can we think about diversity? 

Ultimately, it’s about growth, but growth, not just for growth’s sake, not just in pure volume terms, but also in the depth and in the ways in which we’ve been able to genuinely support companies to build sustainable foundations to grow. And as a result, to grow the impact. I’m looking forward to hearing all of the stories from the founders that we’re reaching right now and hearing how they have changed the world through their in