SeedTribe & Angel Investment Network make waves in the Press

The team at Angel Investment Network and SeedTribe have received a lot of positive press coverage recently including the Financial Times, the Guardian and BBC Radio 4.

It’s always rewarding to get public attention for your hard work. But more importantly, it’s great that our message is reaching a wider audience. Especially those people we can potentially help to find funding or great investment opportunities!

The most recent publications build a nice picture of what we are trying to accomplish over the coming months.

The focus falls, in particular, on our mission to drive positive change in the world. We are trying to increase the accessibility of the early-stage investment space, opening it up to a more diverse spectrum of investors (women and younger investors in particular). And we are helping ‘impact’ entrepreneurs get the right sort of investment for their projects.

Raconteur: Angel Investment Network & SeedTribe advocate a change in attitude towards Plastic Use

oliver jones olivia sibony plastic raconteur press
David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and the more recent BBC film “Drowning in Plastic” have brought the plastic epidemic to a global audience.

Universal horror has propelled action and a number of entrepreneurs have come forward with innovative solutions to the problem. One of these, Ahmed Detta, is currently fundraising for his recycling solution on SeedTribe.

In the midst of this backlash against plastic, we felt it important to make the point that plastic is an awesome resource with so many applications –

the real problem is not plastic, but our attitude towards it.

Raconteur picked up and published our argument – you can read it in full here

Financial Times: Angel Investment Network & SeedTribe support Impact Ventures

This September, the FT produced a special report on the ‘Impact Investing’ movement.

Regarding SeedTribe as one of the companies at the forefront of enabling the growth of this promising space, they included an interview with SeedTribe’s Head of Crowdfunding, Olivia Sibony.

olivia sibony seedtribe financial times press
Liv gives her thoughts on the important role companies like SeedTribe have to play in empowering impact entrepreneurs to enact positive and sustainable change in the world.

Read Liv’s interview in the special report here

The Guardian: Angel Investment Network & SeedTribe support Women Investors

Liv gave another interview with the Guardian, this one focused on the importance of encouraging more women investors and how the rise of the impact space could play a key part in bringing about this change.

olivia sibony seedtribe guardian press
Read ‘The Rise of the Female Investor’ interview here

Angel News: Angel Investment Network & SeedTribe support Millennial Investors

I wrote a comment piece for Angel News which ties in with Liv’s argument for women investors and the impact sector.

My thoughts centred on how younger generations of investors are motivated by conscience as well as the desire for wealth generation. I argue that companies like SeedTribe should do everything we can to harness this for the good of impact projects and the future of the planet.

Check out my two cents here

(Or if you don’t want to register on Angel News, I posted the article in a previous blog post.)

The Value of Press Coverage

This press coverage is all very flattering. But what has been most encouraging is its reception throughout the entrepreneurial and investment communities. Inbound LinkedIn requests are resulting in a number of exciting partnerships as people buy into what we are trying to do.

If you’re interested in this space as a potential partner, entrepreneur or investor, please do get in touch:

liv@seedtribe.com or oliver@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk

Incentivising Millennial Investors is Key for Impact Investment

Impact investing is a hot topic at the moment. And rightly so! We find this so encouraging because it is timely validation for the work we’ve been doing at our impact crowdfunding platform, SeedTribe. But there is more work to do before this industry can deliver the positive outcomes it promises. Part of this work involves incentivising the millennial generation of investors by giving them access to the best impact investments. Last month I wrote a piece on this ‘democratisation’ of impact investments for Angel News.

I wanted to share the message on here too:

Why Millennial Investors are Key for the Impact Space

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

This oft-quoted and amusing aphorism attributed to the Dalai Lama captures the spirit of bloody-mindedness (literally) that can drive anyone, irrespective of category, to their desired destination.

But in some industries, one can’t help but feel that size really does matter.

Early-stage investments are top of the list. For a long time, this space was a stomping ground for suits and wallets; a predominantly male sphere where prestige was gained by backing risky and exciting ventures.
investor stereotype millennial
This (slightly) unjustified stereotyping is not to undermine the important role those traditional types of investor have played in driving innovation.

But it’s important that this model evolve to become more inclusive and conscience-driven.

The advent of crowdfunding kicked off this shift: now individuals could invest in projects based on what they could afford and how much they valued the enterprise. Equity crowdfunding then allowed people to get a stake, as if they were a professional investor, in their chosen companies.

This democratisation helped spur an interest in innovation and startups among those previously unable to contribute. Now anyone could make a difference no matter how small.

However, it has become increasingly apparent that the quality of investments available on mainstream crowdfunding is still far below the level of deal flow available to professional investors.

You are never going to find the next AirBnB on a crowdfunding site. The traditional investors still hold a monopoly at the forefront of innovation.

So what? They will keep investing and funding visionary businesses and the merry parade will go on. We all benefit, right?

But the future they are creating is not one they will have to live with, at least not for very long. And that alters the motivation framework for them.

I’m not trying to denounce these investors or ascribe to them intentions which may or may not be there. But the truth is, the motivations for investing in a company inevitably differ between a 25-year old millennial and a 60-year old.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that, in most cases, the 60-year old will be more interested in wealth creation for themselves and their immediate family, while the younger person will have more concern for the future of the world they hope to inhabit for another 60 years or so.

The Rise of Capital with Conscience

The dramatic uplift in public concern over issues surrounding sustainability and the environment supports this. And it is the millennial generation who are driving this. They have come to realise that the effects of inaction will have irreparable consequences for their futures.
millennial impact investors
Sharing articles, protesting and walking to work are some ways individuals are trying to make a difference. We do these things but still feel too small to make a real difference.

Investing in impact businesses is a potential avenue for a new breed of investors to make a quantifiable difference. Impact or ‘profit-with-purpose’ businesses aim to change the world for the better while turning a profit and generating returns for investors. Included in this open attitude to positive change is a willingness to explore more inclusive methods of raising investment.

Young people, who are more environmentally engaged than ever before and willing to invest in ‘good’, neither have the resources nor the network to invest using traditional methods in the companies their conscience demands of them for a better future.

Luke Gavin, a 26-year old Greentech consultant, knows this difficulty: “One of the frustrating things about the low carbon energy sector is its inaccessibility to the average person – so much of the money comes from large institutional investors.”

A report by Barclays also shows the high appetite among younger generations with millennials four times more likely than older generations to put their money in impact funds.

How are we helping millennial investors?

At SeedTribe, we want to encourage this new generation of conscientious investors. We evaluate and vet the most exciting impact investment opportunities using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) alongside commercial frameworks and allow people to invest online from £100 in exchange for equity.
UN sustainable development goals millennial
Young people want to invest in the most promising impact businesses. It is a concern for the future motivated not simply by financial reward, but more importantly by the hope of a better world for themselves and future generations. We need to do everything we can to support this.

You can read the original article on Angel News here

Impact Investing Interview #1: Work For Good

What is Impact Investing?

Impact investing is when an investor backs a business which has a social and/or environmental mission at its core.

This is not the same as philanthropy where investors expect no returns on their investment other than the reputation boost; and an impactful business is not the same as a non-profit.

Impact investments are made, with financial returns in mind, into businesses targetting profitability alongside their social mission.

An impact investor is, therefore, someone who chooses to support great businesses aiming to do good and make money, rather than just turn a profit.

The decision to be an impact investor is an empowered choice which has already enabled many world-changing businesses to do great things. The rise in awareness of the key social and environmental issues of our time has started a shift in the way many investors view the desired outcome of their investments. More and more want their financial outlay to have an impact as well as generate returns.

What are we doing to help this movement?

Angel Investment Network recently launched Seedtribe to attract more of its investors into the impact investment space.

Seedtribe is an angel-led, crowdfunding platform when everyday investors can invest from as little as £1000 into opportunities backed by angel investors and curated by the Seedtribe team. Investments can be made directly through the platform so the process is as seamless as possible.

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We are confident that this new model will help impact businesses complete their funding rounds quickly so that they can focus on bringing their benefit to the world.

We are delighted to have Work For Good as one of the first impactful businesses on the Seedtribe platform.

Who are Work For Good?

UK annual charity income is around £20bn, but only 2% of this comes from businesses, as the process is complex, costly and lacks transparency with many legal and tax impediments. Work For Good’s platform removes these barriers and has created a market for corporate giving.

Work for Good makes it easy for businesses to give in a way that’s good for them and charities – by doing what they already do. By giving through the Work For Good platform, they can impress their clients, inspire their people, and be a force for good in the world.

impact

Liv Sibony recently took charge as the Head of Crowdfunding at Seedtribe and brought Work For Good onto the platform. (Liv previously founded and sold Grub Club, a platform aimed at helping chefs build a reputation and an income by hosting pop up dining experiences.)

She sat down with Danny Witter, CEO & Co-Founder of Work For Good, to get some insight into the problem of corporate giving and the Work For Good solution…

The Interview

What’s your vision for the company?

To make business giving the norm and to unleash the giving power of the business world. Business giving makes up only 2% of all charity income in the UK which is a disgraceful figure. We can not rely on the giants of the business world to do it for us, The FTSE 100 charitable donations are down 25% from 2013 to just £1.2 billion in 2016, so why not create a culture where the other 5.7 million businesses support causes just by doing the work they already do? If 5% of SMEs gave one day’s revenue, it would generate £208 million annually.

It also improves the bottom line for businesses (68% of SMEs believe their company’s donations to charity had a positive effect on their company’s profitability and 37% of SMEs claim that giving to charity helps to attract new clients) and improves employee morale while raising vital funds for charities.

For charities, especially the smaller, local ones who have less capacity to market themselves and seek donations, we will create greater visibility and support for them to grow their efforts and allow businesses to match with charities that are local or relevant to them.

We don’t think this vision should be limited to the UK either, we strive to see people working for good across the globe, and are delighted that we’ve now received trademark protection across the US and EU.

Can you tell us more about the meta-trend of purpose in business, as you see it?

Investing in good causes grows your business too. In fact, many companies are using it as a major part of their business strategy – TOMS’ ‘One for One’, Warby Parker’s ‘Buy a Pair, Give a Pair’, and Bombas socks ‘One pair purchased = One pair donated’ are just a few using ‘giving back’ as part of their marketing strategy. Cause-related marketing is not just a fad, it’s the response to consumers buying with their own values and in mind.

Consumers increasingly care about where their products come from and how businesses behave, and we see lots of marketing around sustainability and responsibility, and now, giving. The trend is deepening fast, and when in January Larry Fink, CEO of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, published a letter saying that firms that lack a social purpose “will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders” it marked a watershed moment in the importance of authentic corporate responsibility. This applies from global behemoths to sole traders, and Work for Good is particularly focussed on SMEs that have less resource to do so.

For all the personal graft no business was ever built by the founders alone. Just as it takes a village to raise a child it takes a community of stakeholders to build a business. Without loyal customers, reliable suppliers, supportive investors, engaged communities and dedicated employees you have no business. Today, these constituencies want more from the companies they interact with. They are as interested in the story behind the business, the purpose the drives it and the positive values that underpin it. It is no coincidence that B Corp businesses, exemplars of the purpose-led commercialism, have been shown to grow 28 times faster than the UK economy. The giving mechanisms on our platform can also allow for a company’s clients/customers to choose the charities to which they donate. It gets everyone involved and motivated.

Why is it currently so difficult for businesses to give to charities?

The mechanisms currently in place just do not create a marketplace for business and charities to find each other and make transactions. It’s not just as simple as seeing a charity you would like to support, and then donating. Charities often do not even have a payment portal on their sites. The days of writing a cheque are long gone. Charities also find it hard to cut through the noise to create relationships with relevant businesses who may be interested in supporting them.

Work for Good is encouraging businesses to give in a smart way that is good for business, specifically by linking donations visibly to what they do, and talk about it with pride and authenticity in a way that will engage all their stakeholders, and inspire other businesses to follow suit.

However if you link donations to sales and talk about it you get caught by the charities acts, which prescribe that you have to bilaterally negotiate a commercial participation agreement with every charity you might give to, and the charities have risk of paying VAT on those donations.

As such it is painful to implement, and many charities have minimum annual donation requirement of up to £100,000 a year before they’ll negotiate a CPA with a business, which excludes virtually all SMEs.

Work for Good has solved this, the combination of the terms a business signs with the platform and the terms signed by any charity jointly form the CPA, allowing businesses to give to as many charities as they like in a few clicks, in any size, and without having to engage the charities direct, with both parties being entirely compliant. There is also no VAT payable by the charity.

What does “Impact” mean to you as a profit-driven company?

It’s a way to merge the profit-generation that people already strive for with the purpose of producing a specific benefit to society. We want to maximise that impact potential for businesses.

For us, the amount of money going to charities via our platform is the metric we concentrate on most. We believe that good business should have a positive impact on society. Our mission is to create a culture of business giving and therefore an increase in the amount of donations charities receive from SMEs. We also believe that giving has a positive impact on a business’ bottom line – two-thirds of businesses we surveyed reported higher profits when they incorporated giving into their business strategy.

Interested in Impact Investment?

If you want to find out more about Work For Good and their current fundraising round, visit their pitch page on Seedtribe.

Do you anyone who might consider using Work For Good for their business?

Do you know anyone interested in impact investing?

Please consider sharing. You’ll be doing good!