Some dismiss social impact entrepreneurship as a feel-good diversion. But a group of successful investors in Chicago are throwing $10 million on the table to prove that capitalists can do well while doing good.
Impact Engine today announced a $10 million early-stage impact investment fund for companies dedicated to making money and solving one social problem or another.
The fund is a next step for Impact Engine, launched as an accelerator in 2011. Three classes – 23 startups in all – have gone through the program, based in 1871, Chicago’s flagship startup accelerator. Impact Engine has invested nearly $700,000 in these companies, which have gone on to raise $32.4 million in VC funding.
“I love the idea that capitalism and social good can go hand in hand,” said OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder. “It’s extremely exciting to be a part of an organization leading the way for investors and entrepreneurs who are proving this out.”
Backing the fund is a who’s who of Chicago’s current VC and tech boom. The list includes Rudder, Matt McCall, from the Pritzker Group, and Kevin Willer, from Chicago Ventures, Irene Pritzker, from the IDP Foundation, GrubHub co-founder Mike Evans, and Shrada Agarwal, from Jumpstart Ventures. Other investors include Crate & Barrel co-founder Gordon Segal, OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan, TrunkClub co-founder Brian Splay, Protein Bar founder Matt Matros, and Levy Restaurants co-founder Larry Levy.
“This new fund gives us an opportunity to build upon the positive early track record of Impact Engine’s three years as an accelerator,” said Impact Engine CEO Jessica Droste Yagan. “We are thrilled to continue to grow the impact investing ecosystem, supporting impact investors while moving more financial and human capital to the most promising impact entrepreneurs.”