Raising Money? These are the 5 Qualities Impact Investors Look for in Founders.
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Have you heard of triple bottom line investing? Do you have a business that is actively addressing the world's greatest challenges (think hunger, climate change, equality, sustainability, poverty, social justice and more)? Do you want to raise capital? Or are you an investor looking for opportunities that make a difference?
Every year, over $46.6 trillion is actively invested on Wall Street, but just 25% of that goes to investments that make a positive impact on the world.
Despite this, the impact investing sector has seen a 38% growth rate increase since 2016 and “The Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur,” Steve Distante, is helping those impactful entrepreneurs scale and grow. His firm, Vanderbilt Financial Group, has primarily focused its billions in assets on socially and environmentally responsible, ethical, and impactful investments.
Distante is a United Nations ambassador through Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and advocates for and connects entrepreneurs with UN initiatives. He's helping entrepreneurs and investors partner to create a better world and he can show you how you can too.
So what is “Triple Bottom Line” investing? It's investing in a way that benefits people, planet, and profit. Instead of giving money to charity or philanthropy, this approach is about funding entrepreneurs or businesses with a purpose, all while creating a positive financial return.
Distante is always looking through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and his platform brings capital to impactful entrepreneurs to help them scale and grow. His life's mission is to positively impact the world by doing what he believes he was put on this planet to do: help entrepreneurs.
Distante’s first business, formed at the age of six, was sustainable. Distante grew up with horse trails behind his house, and would take his wheelbarrow in the morning, collect as much manure as he could, and convert it into cash. His neighbor, Miss Barker, was more than happy to hand him $1 over the fence for the “food for her plants.”
Distante has been an introvert his whole life; as a kid, he found that business was his way of communicating, especially when he was helping others. He’s been selling ever since.
Fast forward to today, and Distante has assembled a huge investment community. He has incredible reach, access to capital, broker-dealers, and investors who are all interested in sustainability and making an impact in the way they invest for their clients.
Everybody wants to make money when they invest, but Distante has realized that today’s investors also want to invest in opportunities that align with their personal values. “The way you invest your money makes a difference,” Distante told me. “We can empower companies to be able to do more meaningful things, as an advocate for this sort of activity. Companies that haven't woken up to this are becoming dinosaurs.”
I asked Distante what he looks for when evaluating businesses for investment. He looks for five things:
Is the entrepreneur genuine and impactful? Is this their life's mission? When the going gets tough, Distante wants to make sure that they're still going to be “in.” If they have a visceral connection with their business, they're not going anywhere.
Are they a good leader? Are they able to lead others in their business to fulfill their vision, or are they alone on an island with the rest of the business functioning in a way that can’t scale?
Do they have a viable business model? How will they make revenue and what are they going to do to fulfill their purpose?
What is the culture? What are the values of the company? What do they hold dear and true to them? Are they willing to be vulnerable and transparent when facing challenges? Do they attract a team of collaborators and top talent?
Do Distante and the entrepreneur like each other as human beings? If they meet the first four criteria, this last one is generally a given.
The criteria Distante uses are about identifying a shared value system just as much as anything else. He wants to ensure a founder he invests in has spent a lot of time thinking about the problem and has made it part of their life’s purpose.
To learn more about Steve Distante, watch his film here: www.ImpactU.film