Six entrepreneurs focused on the “double bottom line” of profit and social impact pitched to an audience of 130 potential investors at the Social Innovation Forum’s 4th annual Impact Investing Showcase on April 7, hosted by Fidelity Charitable. The Showcase was the culminating event of the Social Innovation Forum’s 2016 Social Business Accelerator, a 12-week program of mentoring and support for early stage companies focused on generating both financial and social impact returns.
“Throughout this intensive process, our goal has been to help these businesses receive mentoring and attract capital so they can grow and scale their impact,” said Social Innovation Forum (SIF) Executive Director Susan Musinsky. “Their innovations in healthcare, education, technology, and solar energy are exciting, and we are thrilled today to introduce them to a community of investors who care about social impact as well as profitability.”
The six companies presented innovative business models and bold social impact goals across diverse industries, including education, solar energy, healthcare, and technology.
- ClearGov brings transparency to every municipality in the United States by empowering citizens with easy to understand government financial data to help drive positive change and collaboration with government.
- EnergySage is democratizing solar by making shopping for solar as easy as booking a flight online. The company offers an online platform that enables consumers to compare solar quotes from pre-screened solar installers.
- KinderLab Robotics aims to eliminate racial, gender, and economic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education gaps and achieve universal STEM literacy. The company provides educational toys and products to schools and families that expose young children to technology and STEM concepts in a uniquely age-appropriate way.
- PlenOptika aims to bring vision correction (eyeglasses) to anyone who needs it. The company created the “QuickSee,” a low-cost handheld device that provides eyeglass prescriptions at the push of a button.
- PSM Clean Energy seeks to unleash the solar potential of commercial rooftops to reduce harmful environmental emissions, provide energy savings to customers, and to spur local job creation. The company offers an online platform enables individuals to make direct impact investments in local solar projects developed and managed by PSM’s team of solar experts.
- WiCare reduces healthcare cost burdens, while increasing global health access. The company has created the “Wound-Pump,” a low-cost and simplified negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) device that is used to treat open wounds.
Several of the mentors from the accelerator also spoke at the event, sharing their enthusiasm for working with early-stage, social impact businesses and their own interest in the emerging field of impact investing. "It's a very exciting thing to empower these entrepreneurs to grow great companies and scale their impact," said Ryan Dings, a mentor who also serves as SIF's Board Chair.
It's a very exciting thing to empower these entrepreneurs to grow great companies and scale their impact.
An intensive networking session followed the pitches, and investors had the opportunity to speak with the entrepreneurs, and, in some cases, test out their products. Several attendees had their eyeglass prescriptions taken by PlenOptika’s “QuickSee,” while others programmed their own robots using KinderLab Robotics’ kit. Dozens of business cards were exchanged and many of the attendees filled out "connection cards" indicating their interest in following up with specific companies or learning more about SIF's impact investing work.
If you are interested in learning more about the companies in the 2016 Social Business Accelerator cohort or about SIF's work in the field of impact investing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.