SeedTribe relaunches as ‘UK impact hub’ – powering profit-with-purpose driven businesses

Ethical investment platform SeedTribe has relaunched as a new UK-focused impact hub. The platform connects startups with individuals, corporates and governments interested in helping profit-with-purpose businesses. SeedTribe’s new remit includes mentoring, networking and recruitment, as well as investment.

SeedTribe uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”)  as its impact framework with all businesses on the platform at Stage 1, raising up to £1M and driving revenue. Businesses that appear on the platform are heavily vetted so only the most inspiring are selected. Businesses are featured free of charge, but have the option to buy “add-ons”. These include helping with their fundraise, advertising a job to the network or showcasing an event. 

New content

New content includes spotlight interviews with founders, advice and guidance for startups who need support. There are also events, opportunities and a free match-up service enabling individuals to connect with businesses. Following extensive research and discussions with the network SeedTribe has identified five key areas of focus. These are:

1.     Mentors/Advisors
2.     Corporates giving financial or in-kind support in line with their values and fields of expertise
3.     Recruitment opportunities
4.     Interesting events they can attend
5.     Investment or other types of funding

Businesses winning investment and support

Businesses on the SeedTribe platform winning investment and support include: Teysha Technologies, a natural polycarbonate platform creating fully biodegradable substitutes for plastics and PinPoint who use data science to detect the early signs of cancer.

The site is powered by Angel Investment Network – the world’s largest online angel investment platform, with a global network of more than 1 million entrepreneurs and 200,000 investors.

Olivia Sibony is the CEO of SeedTribe and she was recently named one of the UK’s Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs for her work on SeedTribe.

She said: “Our entire ethos is using business as a force for good, meaning profit and purpose need to be interlinked. Over the past 18 months I have been approached by so many people who believe in our mission and want to help in ways beyond simply funding.” 

She continued: “Our community is dedicated to finding solutions to the world’s most intractable problems, helping impact-driven entrepreneurs  meet the people and institutions who can teach, support and fund their ventures. We believe in the power of collaboration and together we can empower business to be used as a force for good and transform our world.

Olivia is urging anyone keen to help SeedTribe’s mission to reach out. Please visit seedtribe.com for more information.

TechRound Interview with Seedtribe CEO Olivia Sibony

This interview with Olivia Sibony was originally published in TechRound on 21st May 2019.

We caught up with Liv Sibony, the CEO of Seedtribe, a community hub for entrepreneurs, investors and change-makers interested in impact entrepreneurship and using business as a force for good.

Tell us a bit about your career…

I started out at Goldman Sachs before leaving to launch a foodtech startup called Grub Club. It was a platform for connecting diners with unique dining experiences. We sold to Eatwith in 2017.

I was only too aware, from my experiences at Grub Club, of the challenges entrepreneurs face in raising funds and I had always had a passion for seeing how business could be used as force for good, so I then joined Angel Investment Network (having raised money for Grub Club through them) to launch and grow their impact-focussed platform, SeedTribe.

I am also a board member of UCL’s Fast Forward 2030, which aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to launch businesses that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN sustainable development goals millennial angel investor technology investors olivia sibony interview
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

How did the idea for Seedtribe come about?

Seedtribe started out as a hybrid angel investment/crowdfunding platform with two complementary aims:

The first was to support impactful businesses and find them funding.

The second was to encourage non-traditional investors (including women and younger people) to back startups by simplifying the investment process and allowing them to invest smaller amounts.

We ran it like this for around a year and helped some awesome companies including:

  • Advanced Sustainable Developments, launching the first complete circular economy solution for food grade plastic recycling in the UK.
  • Airex, an alternative to traditional air floor insulation reducing unwanted heat loss by regulating air flow.
  • Hopes Initiative which maps, analyses, and optimises the energy consumption of businesses, managing energy expenditure, consumption and impact on the environment..

But we soon realised that we could do so much more to make our own impact and help the eco-system develop.

So, what is Seedtribe now?

Seedtribe is a community platform to connect entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, jobseekers and volunteers and together inspire, create and support businesses for a brighter future.

We basically try to support the business-for-good eco-system by bringing together all the right people into events, online discussions, fundraising campaigns and educational workshops.

The new Seedtribe homepage coming soon…

What’s the mission?

We want to be the glue that brings the best, most talented, driven, passionate people together to be the change we all need to see in the world. We are the go-to place where impactful entrepreneurs connect with an invaluable network that help them scale.

Collaboration is the most powerful tool we have for inspiring and empowering change. At Seedtribe, we enable collaboration between individuals, startups, corporates and governments to create a better world.

By connecting the dots, we help each party or person find the right way to contribute. That way, we can get beyond all the noise and bluster, and allow everyone to take meaningful and positive action.

Our system will allow everyone to contribute positive action according to their experience, values and competencies.

What challenges do you face?

Despite reaching a market cap of $500bn and growing five-fold since 2013, the impact space is still in its infancy.

Some people still confuse investing in impact/business-for-good/profit-with-purpose with philanthropy. Even though this could not be further from the truth. ‘Impact’ business do not seek to achieve an environmental/social purpose at the expense of profit, but rather, the purpose and profit-creation are intertwined.

What’s your vision for the future?

I want to see more businesses working as a force for good. At the moment, investment is 100% tied to the idea of only caring about a financial return.

I wish we could see a paradigm shift where we feel more engaged in investing in the future, so that we can make more long-term, sustainable decisions that don’t just revolve around our personal financial returns.

If everyone were encouraged to see investment as the “triple bottom line”, companies would be incentivised to act in the interest of people and planet, we would see less short-termism, and I also think it might engage more people in the world of investing, as they’d see how it relates to their own values and future, not just a return in the next 12 months.

Where can people find out more?

We are currently rebuilding the Seedtribe site to create more of a community focus and attract users beyond just investors and entrepreneurs. They can visit the existing version at www.seedtribe.com and help us shape it at by answering this questionnaire.  I’m also always open to chat so they can connect with me on LinkedIn too!

Technology investors must shine a light in uncertain times

£7bn was invested into private UK companies in 2018, down 19% from record levels in 2017 but still significantly higher than any year before 2017, according to Beauhurst. Could this be the beginning of a decline? These are dark and uncertain times; and even those ‘presiding’ over Britain’s exit from the European Union are unable to agree on what the first order effects of this momentous action might be.

technology investors
Data & Image from Beauhurst report on equity investments into private companies https://about.beauhurst.com/research/

Angel investors have far greater flexibility than any other investor type when it comes to adjusting their investment preferences. In times of macroeconomic uncertainty, they can easily defer activity until they have a clearer idea of the road ahead.

The warning signals, then, are there on a wider level. But on the Angel Investment Network platform, 2018 was a strong year with both UK investor and entrepreneur numbers rising to over 30,000 and 115,000 respectively. We now have over 1 million users globally. Our own analysis of the user activity on the site reveals some interesting insights into the angel investment landscape. And perhaps a light for the path forward.

Threadbare Fashion Sector

The High Street has had a tough time in the past year, with high profile fashion brands in trouble including House of Fraser and LK Bennett. According to user data on our site, investor willingness to back startup fashion brands has dipped dramatically with ‘fashion’ as a sector falling from the 6th to the 14th most popular sector in 2018, the largest slide of any category.

The poor performances of high street mainstays may have played some role in this, but more likely it is strong performances from other sectors that have contributed most tellingly to this dip in popularity. Judging from the performances of software, technology and the so-called ‘impact’ sector, it seems that fashion brands looking to raise investment will need to embrace technology and/or ethical mission statements as part of their proposition to regain investor interest.

Fintech Finesse

It will come as no surprise that the technology and software categories grew impressively and retained top spot for both investor interest and number of pitches looking for funding.  The rise of AI and machine learning with applications across so many industries has meant that many new startups have some form of digital technology at the core of their value proposition. The prevalence of industry jargon terms like ‘agrotech’, ‘insurtech’ and ‘fintech’ speak to this intersection between specific industries and the super-industry that software and technology is fast becoming.

Fintech in the UK is a great example. London has developed a well-deserved reputation as a Fintech hub over the past couple of years, thanks, in part, to the growth of companies like Monzo, Starling Bank, Revolut, and payment-linked-loyalty provider, Bink.

fintech technology investors

Their success has inspired a surge of exciting innovation in the space with some very promising startups coming onto the scene including: Coconut – a current account with inbuilt accounting; and Novastone – ‘WhatsApp’ for the finance sector. Both of whom completed funding rounds through Angel Investment Network in 2018, taking their total funding to £1.9M and £5.6M respectively.

We expect the fintech space to go from strength to strength in 2019 and beyond, and it may offer some hope for carrying the UK startup scene on its shoulders if the going gets tough.

The rise of impact investment

Another area starting to show promise is ‘impact investment’. Investor activity on the website mirrored growing societal interest in ‘impact’ or ‘profit-with-purpose’ – the notion that businesses should have some societal and/or environmental good at the core of their mission while still working for growth and profit, allowing investors to invest in line with their conscience without risking their chance of generating returns.

Investor searches for impact-related terms were up an average of 24.9% from 2017. The fastest growing sector was ’renewables’ which climbed from 40th to 32nd (a 25.4% increase in number of searches,‘greentech’ showed a 25.7% increase while ‘environmental’ had a 23.5% increase.

UN sustainable development goals millennial angel investor technology investors
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Some of the companies who benefitted from, or perhaps helped create, this growth in interest include: Verv – an AI home energy assistant – and Demizine – an end-to-end home water recycling system using technology originally engineered for space stations. In both cases, it is interesting to note the core role that cutting-edge software and technology plays in their value proposition.

Off the back of this, we recently launched a spin-off platform, Seedtribe, with the mission of building a community of impact entrepreneurs and investors. We are especially interested in the role technology can play for impact companies in bringing about positive change in the world, while generating returns for investors.

Equity property investments remain popular

As a final point, I should mention the property investment category which performed strongly on the site for the third year running. For context, our site was built to connect startup companies with angel investors, but from quite early on, property development companies would ignore our pitch framework (designed for startups) and submit their equity property deals on the platform. The appetite for their type of deal (25-35% returns per year over an 18-24 month period) was apparently strong among our investor community – perhaps as a less risky avenue for diversifying their portfolio. This remained the case in 2018 and we expect this to continue even with the current volatility in the property market.

Summary

Overall, investor and entrepreneur activity on our site has outperformed the sector at large. But in these uncertain times, we recognise that our efforts to support the early-stage investment community will have to go even further in 2019 and beyond.

Whatever the political climate, UK entrepreneurs will continue to bring out innovative solutions embedded in technology across a variety of industries in 2019. The Internet of Things, robotics and AI systems including software for autonomous vehicles are creating real excitement amongst our investor community, and rightly so. It is up to these investors to continue supporting the industry with capital, expertise and contact; and to light a way in these murky times.

Originally written by Oliver Jones, Head of Marketing at Angel Investment Network, for The Haggerston Times