The Brief | May 31, 2018

Impact’s infectious logic, Albert’s financial-planning app, GIIN finds $228 billion, overheard at Katapult

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Featured: The Impact Alpha

The Impact Alpha: Agents of impact start to infect their hosts. Impact investing is a wedge issue. That’s not to say it’s a hot-button – yet! – that pols will press in this year’s mid-terms. Nor does it split us neatly into blue or red, left or right. Rather, the act of driving capital toward explicit, accountable social and environmental value-creation starts companies and investors down a trail of logic that scrambles alliances and splits constituencies, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank writes in his latest column. As Arjuna Capital’s Farnum Brown put it in response to last week’s column, “I’ve long maintained that the project is and always has been one of infecting the host.”

The strategy for agents of impact, then, would seem to be: work the angles, bet on trends, move some money, drive the data and…wait for the right moment. The fabled “tipping point” comes not when a majority is in hand, but earlier, when the disruptive insurgents’ growing share of market- and mind-share can no longer be ignored. It’s time to split the corporate and financial leaders from the laggards. Explicit, accountable social and environmental value-creation is contagious and spreading. From within and without, bottom up and the top down, agents of impact are infecting their hosts.

Read, “The Impact Alpha: Agents of impact start to infect their hosts,” By David Bank, on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Deal of the Day: Albert raises $5 million to help Americans manage their money. About half of Americans don’t have the money to cover a $400 emergency expense and have trouble managing their daily finances. Albert’s typical user has minimal savings and a median income of $40,000. The company’s app consolidates users’ financial accounts onto its platform and tracks balances, spending habits and upcoming bills. It also makes recommendations about paying down debt and saving money.

Chicago’s Impact Engine raises $10 million for new fund. The firm dropped its accelerator program two years ago and now invests in education, health, economic empowerment and resource efficiency startups. Read more.

Nashville’s Porter Road corrals $3.7 million to sell humane meat. The butcher shop vets and sources pasture-raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat. Eat it up.

Click here for more ImpactAlpha dealflow. Send deal tips and news to [email protected].

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Impact investing assets under management doubled to $228 billion last year. The Global Impact Investing Network’s Amit Bouri dropped the figure in an interview with Business Insider ahead of the release of GIIN’s annual investor survey next week. The new figure, which tallies actual responses to the survey, represents the new “floor” for the industry and a year-over-year doubling of impact assets under management. More to come in ImpactAlpha’s analysis of the new survey.

Seven tech-driven takeaways from Katapult Future Festival. SOCAP meets Burning Man meets TechCrunch Disrupt at the Katapult Future Festival in Oslo. This month’s second annual future fest drew 650 agents of impact (including Norway’s Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit!) to explore exponential solutions to exponential problems.’s Avary Kent shares seven takeaways from the intersection of technology and impact investing. Among them:

  • The impact alpha is real. “I’m glad people think impact means giving up returns. It means more upside for us!” said Seth Bannon of Fifty Years VC.
  • Impact inventing is investible. Entrepreneur and Harvard chemistry professor Alan Aspuru-Guzik is applying robotics and artificial intelligence to material science laboratories. His new company, Zapata Computing, has raised $5.4 million to solve major challenges from drug discovery to climate data analysis.
  • Dig the diversity dividend. Implicit biases still keep capital flowing in ways that disproportionately support men. “We need women who are going to take companies to scale,” said Durreen Shahnaz, founder of IIX.

Read, “Seven tech-driven takeaways from Katapult Future Festival,” by Avary Kent on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

“The founders who get it right have a deep cultural competency around the markets they serve,” said Impact America Fund’s Kesha Cash, who was named to Fast Company’s 2018 list of most creative people in business… “We’re seeing a growing body of data and information out there for [impact] investors,” the Case Foundation’s Jean Case told CNN for the network’s segment on the rise of impact investingFoundation Center is hosting a free webinar today at 2pm on “Impact Investing in the Creative Economy.”

–May 31, 2018.