In December of 2018, the Spring team decided to embark on an audacious challenge: to actively create a new community of investors focused on investing a portion of their wealth into early stage, high growth businesses with the potential to have a big positive impact on the world. Fast forward to June 5th, when Open Ocean Robotics secured $100,000 in investment from the Spring Impact Challenge, and in the process, 18 new impact investors were created.
The program itself is quite simple. 18 investors signed up for 10 weeks of training on how to make early stage investments into businesses. Over the course of the program, the investors were trained how to select five companies from a list of twenty, and conduct their homework (or due diligence) to select the one company to invest in.
What we learned through that process was incredible. Here’s some of our key takeaways:
We all want to make the world better
There is a natural desire for people to invest in companies that are making a positive impact. That said, they challenge to ensure that there is still great financial returns to go with that impact. In addition, investors want to be in a community – to share companies, due diligence, ideas, and concerns.
Ada, one of the investors, shared during the finale on June 5th “It’s a unique community, and it’s a mishmash of investors helping entrepreneurs, investors that are entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs, investors helping investors, we saw it all, and ultimately it’s people helping people for the greater good.”
It’s not just about the pitch
The investor cohort spent 10 weeks with these top-5 companies and drilled down deep into getting to know their businesses, their team members, and their market. This ensured that every company had an equal opportunity for consideration regardless of their on-stage performance that evening. While all five final pitches were great, the company that secured the investment was able to really show their strengths in all aspects of their early stage business.
Canada can have a global impact
All five companies have the opportunity to impact the world, and not just Vancouver or Canada. They are addressing challenges in our oceans, food systems, healthcare, and sustainability. They are all for profit, and their market sizes are huge.
The first Spring Impact Challenge was a breakthrough success. And it’s just the beginning. Spring will run the program again in Vancouver and will be expanding the Challenge to include other cities around the world. Our vision is to create a global, interconnected network of investors actively investing in early stage, high growth companies that will help contribute to a better planet in a meaningful way. This will bring more capital to companies in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and the world that succeed, bring great financial returns and realize that impact.
Photo Credits: Maxine Bulloch, www.maxinebulloch.com