2019 Bay Area Impact Summit: Connecting the Social Impact Ecosystem

ONE WORLD founder Scott Saslow moderates a conversation with Kristin Hull, founder and CEO of NIA Capital and Joel Solomon, founder of Renewal Funds.

ONE WORLD founder Scott Saslow moderates a conversation with Kristin Hull, founder and CEO of NIA Capital and Joel Solomon, founder of Renewal Funds.

On March 19th, ONE WORLD convened over 150 local founders, investors and other professionals committed to moving capital to Bay Area companies solving problems that benefit people and the planet. At the 2019 BAIS, we heard from ONE WORLD founder Scott Saslow and Program Director Angie Mertens, alongside long-time leaders in the social impact movement like Joel Solomon and Kristin Hull about the ways this ecosystem of entrepreneurs and investors is building a brighter future for us all. The program included pitches from 11 innovative entrepreneurs building values-based businesses and insights from our seasoned panel of judges, all actively directing investments into mission-driven companies creating market-based solutions.

At the BAIS participants gathered in curated roundtables, interest-aligned breakout sessions and engaged in large group conversation as we gained new knowledge, networked and knitted together our Bay area impact ecosystem. We facilitated conversations on investment, fundraising and business development from the tactical to the aspirational, and created a space for participants to connect with their peers, learn from other founders and funders, and find potential collaborators or local companies to support.
82% of attendees reported they were “likely” or “very likely” to recommend the event to a friend colleague.

The pitching entrepreneurs, judges, speakers and ONE WORLD team members at the 2019 BAIS.

The pitching entrepreneurs, judges, speakers and ONE WORLD team members at the 2019 BAIS.

“I made real connections with people interested in my company’s mission and with other brands who had valuable advice. The investors in the room were so open to having conversations. It was very welcoming and refreshing and even though I wasn’t pitching, I found it to be very valuable.”
— BAIS participant

ONE WORLD’s 2019 BAIS program included:

  • Morning roundtable sessions that brought together leaders around shared interests.
    The first roundtable convened nearly 20 CEOs and was facilitated by Christa Quarles, former CEO, OpenTable and Kimberly-Clark Board member and Meena Sankaran, Founder & CEO KETOS. The group openly talked through the very real challenges of scaling their companies, while building company culture and hiring great people, recognizing that the type of talent you need at the beginning of a venture may look very different than what you need down the road. Christa suggested that diversity was a critical focal point. “More diverse companies are more successful, period. Early on, make it a priority. The results demonstrate the benefits.

    The 2nd roundtable, facilitated by Kristin Hull, Nia Impact Capital and Daryn Dodson, Illumen Capital, brought together fund managers around the topic of "Building diverse teams and funding underrepresented CEOs".  Many of the investors shared practices they use to help D&I into the “DNA” of their organization, in terms of how they hire employees for the fund, as well as how they choose investments.  The group identified the need to broaden this work in their own funds, as well as help guide the rest of the investment ecosystem (especially “downstream”, larger funds) with this important topic, an issue of both social justice as well as economic opportunity.  

    In the third roundtable, the Social Venture Circle gathered together their local network of accredited investors to connect and share insights.

  • The kick off to the main program began with a fireside chat with Kristin Hull and Joel Solomon. Moderator Scott Saslow began by asking the audience to reflect and share on an aspirational question: “What would you do if you had 10x the resources?” Joel and Kristin dove into a conversation about how to invest consciously and with love and intention, noting that “there is a movement for impact investing and it IS growing.” Joel spoke about seeing his investments as “love boosts” to help an entrepreneur’s business grow and a guiding question to the audience: “What is doing the right thing with our lives, and therefore our money?

    Kristin offered a helpful reframe to founders who were fundraising: “If you’re solving for social problems, invite people into your dream. You aren’t making an ask, you’re making an offering.” She spoke of the long-lasting importance of our current investment choices. “May we be able to see for the rest of our lives what our choices with our money caused. There will be a money story that we leave behind. Future generations will pay attention.

  • Eleven inspiring founders pitched their businesses to the audience and a panel of investors and judges. (see the full list of pitching businesses here). We heard about products from off-grid appliances to ecologically-sound toilets, technology platforms that streamline healthcare best practices, help parents save for college and give caregivers an organized support network, and online and offline services that provide speech therapy for children, help create more mindful, engaged workplaces and employ at-risk youth to provide corporate catering. Judges included: Rick Moss, Founder & Managing Director, Better Ventures; Erik Edwards, Partner, Cooley LLP; Uriridiakoghene (Ulili) Onovakpuri, Partner, Kapor Capital; David Cooper, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Montcalm Capital; Shrina Kurani, Chief of Staff, Republic; Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, Executive Director, Social Venture Circle; Ha Nguyen, Partner, Spero Ventures

  • Three afternoon breakout sessions looked at several areas of fundraising and investment. The first session looked at the different types of tools and capital sources available to investors in structuring deals- from the known to the novel. The group was led by  Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, Executive Director, Social Venture Circle and Tony Stayner Board Member of SV2 / Managing Director at Excelsior Impact Fund and moderated by Lisa Van Dusen, Chief Relationship Officer, SV2.

    “This was a really practical and helpful session. Val provided an excellent primer on impact investing terms and had a great overview of the landscape. Tony was also excellent in terms of insights and Lisa did a great job moderating.” said Cory Smith, CEO of Wisdom Labs.

    In the second session,  Stephanie Cohn Rupp, Cat Berman of CNote and Jase Wilson of Neighborly provided an overview of investment options across asset classes and facilitated a conversation with the participants on how best to identify and evaluate the performance of such investments.  The good news: there are now market-rate impact investments across all classes of assets, including public equity, fixed income, real assets, private equity, and cash.

    The third and final breakout session looked at non dilutive types of funding sources that only social entrepreneurs have access to, including grants, program related investment or low-interest loans. Moderated by Catherine Crystal Foster, CEO, Give Local Silicon Valley and joined by panelists Ken Tsunoda, Vice President of Development, TechSoup and Miranda Wang, Co-Founder and CEO of BioCellection, the group discussed how to find these sources of capital and how to successfully apply for them. When discussing how to assess taking grant money Miranda noted, “You need to understand that you have a personal relationship with the grant maker so alignment is really important. Getting the right people and advisors and community around you to support you is critical.

Angie Mertens, ONE WORLD co-founder and Program Director, invites the BAIS judges to share their insights and advice for the entrepreneurs that pitched their businesses to the audience.

Angie Mertens, ONE WORLD co-founder and Program Director, invites the BAIS judges to share their insights and advice for the entrepreneurs that pitched their businesses to the audience.

“It was inspiring for investors and for social entrepreneurs, and it was an excellent opportunity to find and connect with like minded people to collaborate with at both ends.”
— BAIS attendee

And the Winners Were...

The event concluded with the judges handing out awards in three categories. Congrats to the following 2019 BAIS award winners:
* Most Innovation Solution: Eric Quick, CEO, The Town Kitchen
* Best Overall Impact Investment: Miranda Wang,  Co-Founder & CEO, BioCellection Inc
* Most Qualified Team: Cat Berman, CEO,CNote

ONE WORLD is grateful to all the speakers, facilitators, presenters and participants that made the 2019 BAIS such an incredible event for all. We are especially thankful for the support of our event partners at Cooley, program partners at Social Venture Circle, and our media partner Conscious Company Media as well as to The Town Kitchen for their amazing catering. We look forward to seeing you again at one of our upcoming events!

“I liked the positive mindset in the room and “you can do it” philosophy. I took away some new ideas on how to frame our pitch to supporters, who don’t get a monetary return - but there are many tangible outcomes that directly and indirectly affect donors and the community.”
— BAIS attendee