impact investing

Reflections on SOCAP 2017

Reflections on SOCAP 2017

Howdy, PeakChange friends! We’re pleased to introduce a new member to the PeakChange team. Molly Ganley is currently working with PeakChange to support our operations and to provide advisory services. With a background in social enterprise development, operational efficiency, and network and event management, we couldn’t be happier to have her on board and blogging with us. Welcome, Molly!  

Check out Molly's first blog on her experience at SOCAP17 here.

Why Gender Lens Investing Matters: The Future is Female

Why Gender Lens Investing Matters: The Future is Female

The ladies of PeakChange had the pleasure of attending The Women's Foundation of Colorado's 30th Anniversary Celebration this past month, featuring a conversation with Michelle Obama in her first public appearance since leaving the White House in January. Weren't able to make it to the event in person or don't live in Colorado? Have no fears. Check out Emily and Annie's co-authored piece on how Michelle Obama's calls to action perfectly sync and resonate with the goals of gender lens investing in the impact investing space. Learn more about how you can get involved and answer the Former First Lady's collective call to action.

SunFunder Empowers “Beyond the Grid”

SunFunder Empowers “Beyond the Grid”

The “Beyond the Grid (BTG) Solar Fund,” SunFunder's new, $50 million capital pool for financing solar projects in developing countries, announced its first closing in October 2016.  The BTG Fund will provide increased debt finance support for companies engaged in projects designed to leapfrog inadequate electricity grids in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia by building reliable photovoltaic generation and distribution capacity.  

Women Empowering Women - Let’s Make It Happen

Colorado Impact Days and Initiative raised awareness of “Impact Investing with a Gender Lens” last month (March 2-4). As a follow-on, I’m thrilled to be co-hosting the Women Transforming Social Impact networking event on May 12 in Denver to promote collaboration, communication, and connection within the Gender Lens space. Join me. Let’s dig into the conversation together.

Gender Lens Investing tends to be a catchall term for investing in women. Yet, the story is so much deeper. Investors, entrepreneurs and community leaders are now asking increasingly pointed questions about financial inclusion, diversity in the workplace, and gender equity, as a result of exploring these issues through a gender-nuanced lens applied to impact investing.

Celebrating "Exits"

The PeakChange Team is happy to announce two exits from funds within the PeakChange Portfolio: Boston Heart Diagnostics (BHD) from Patient Capital Collaborative (PCC) ‘09 and UClass from Better Ventures Fund. The composition of PeakChange’s dynamic portfolio is ever-evolving due, in part, to our desire to optimize each investments’ long-term social and financial performance. As a result, we’ve learned how to let go of ventures, find new partners, scale early stage investments, and then help facilitate any of the multiple ways companies can exit. We’re particularly excited about these latest divestitures, because the acquiring entities recognize the financial success and depth of social impact achieved to date by these companies while under our tutelage.  In addition, we have confidence in the next iteration for these ventures, proceeding forward in newly minted, culturally appropriate, synergistic partnerships.

Boston Heart Diagnostics was acquired by Eurofins Scientific in a transaction that resulted in a significant gain for investors, including meaningful additions to escrow and significant future earn-out payments, as well as a high return on social impact. 

 Why is this a win for BHD and PCC?

In addition to providing high financial returns for investors in the PCC ’09 Fund, women-led venture BHD has saved thousands of lives, created over 350 jobs, established a favorable work environment, and achieved positive economic impact – all during times of recession. Because PCC’s projections, based on its original investment strategy, proved correct, PCC can now recommit its capital funds into new projects. Moreover, through exit experiences PCC continues to learn how best to nuture its companies as they become ready to operate at scale and make their mark in the world without PCC’s financial backing and management support. This model shows it’s possible to do well by doing good – a validation of the PCC mantra.

 UClass, a Better Ventures Fund I company, has been acquired by Renaissance Learning, a K-12 assessment and learning analytics company with a valuation of over $1 billion.

Why is this a win for UClass and Better Ventures Fund?

 UClass experienced success at an early stage, as over 16 million pieces of the company’s learning content are currently being used by hundreds of thousands of teachers and students in over 5,000 schools across the U.S.  By joining forces with edtech industry giant Renaissance Learning, the UClass team will be able to reach a much larger audience more quickly through a combined platform that will be used by an estimated one-third of the K-12 schools in the U.S. As their first funder, Better Ventures helped catalyze the UClass team and can consider this merger a success, as the company has reached scale in just two years and since the partnership with Renaissance Learning is mutually beneficial and a great cultural fit.  Better Ventures managers pride themselves on their ability to invest wisely at the intersection of technology and impact by backing entreprenuers who can leverge technology to tackle the world’s largest challenges. This acquisition shows that you can make money and do good – the Better Ventures way.

 Why is this good news for PeakChange?

 Long before social venture capital became the hot investment model, PeakChange’s portfolio was designed to contain diverse investments reflecting potential for high impact.  PeakChange provides early stage investments with financial and social capital for entrepreuneurs to grow their company to a critical point, at which time they then exit the portfolio. While exits can be scary and messy, PeakChange works hard to ensure that all parties benefit through an appropriate exit strategy. Summize, for example, was one such investment. And, Summize became pivotal for PeakChange. because our experience with this company taught us how to say goodbye and, more important, helped us understand how and why exits by successful early stage companies are a good thing for all stakeholders. In the early days of Twitter, Summize was one of the best Twitter search engines in the market; so it didn’t take long for the company to get acquired by Twitter. Exits through acquisition, like Summize - and most recently with BHD and UClass - prove that our approach to investing in positive change not only works, but can be pretty lucrative.  These two exits in the impact space are milestones and demonstrate positive internal growth and change for the PeakChange portfolio.

 Our success can be attributed in part to learning continuously from the different exits in our portfolio and by working closely with entrepreneurs and fund managers to ensure a beneficial experience for all.  With these recent divestitures, the PeakChange Team must now work to balance changes within our portfolio – as we apply additional resources to new investments and to robust support for continuing ventures.

 Until next time,

The Peak Change Team

Jim and Emily