Less than a year ago, I asked a prominent figure in Chicago’s startup community about local investors’ interest in the social enterprise model.
She told me flatly, “No one cares.”
Well, they care now. Since Impact Engine’s Investor Day in December, 2012, five of the eight members of the initial cohort have closed funding. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 62.5%, compared to 6% or less for startups in general.
A social enterprise creates its social benefit from the exact same business activity that generates its sustainable revenue. I wrote that Investor Day “proved profit-driven innovation can create solutions to some of the world’s most dire problems.” The success of Impact Engine and the Impact 1 teams validates the concept—and establishes Chicago as one of the world’s top social enterprise centers.
Paying attention, startups? The deadline to apply for Impact Engine’s next class is June 30. Elizabeth Riley, impact Engine Program Manager, says faculty will select 30 semi-finalists “based on the originality of their ideas, their team members, the potential impact of their concepts and their potential profitability.”
Six months ago, I thought the Investor Day pitches ranked among the best startup presentations I’d seen anywhere. I still do.
I also rated each startup on Awesomeness (purely subjective “wow” factors) and Fundability (an educated guess at how investors would project the profit potential of the business model). And guess what? The ones I rated highest for Fundability got funded—but so did one I ranked near the bottom.