On behalf of everyone at Impact Engine, we want to wish you happy holidays! Before we look ahead to the new year, we paused for a moment to reflect on 2016. From announcing our first seed fund and investing in a growing portfolio of impact-driven companies to engaging with our expanding community of impact investors, mentors, and supporters, Impact Engine has had a strong year of growth and evolution. Below we’ve recapped a few of the highlights from this year for you to enjoy.
In a Letter from our CEO, we announced the closing of a new $10 million impact fund backed by a community of 80 individual impact investors. We shared our plan to invest between $25,000 and $250,000 in early-stage technology companies making a significant impact in education, health, resource efficiency and economic empowerment. We’re excited to be evolving from an accelerator to managing the Midwest’s first early-stage impact fund and have already seen tremendous progress from our new portfolio companies. Throughout the year we focused on finding and vetting new investments and were excited to invest in Regroup Therapy, Workit Health, Full Harvest, Pangea (also part of Impact Engine’s first accelerator portfolio from 2012), and ReUp Education.
We kicked off 2016 with a Community Demo Day, featuring pitch presentations from our first investees in this new fund: Develop Link, Fletch, Skill Scout, ClassroomIQ and Luna Lights. In March, we settled into our new office space on the thirteenth floor of 1871, where we enjoy sharing a hallway with other members of the Chicago investor community: Chicago Venture Partners, MATH Venture Partners & Hyde Park Angels.
In October, we were honored to accept the Chicagoness Award at the 2016 Momentum Awards on behalf of our amazing community of portfolio companies, investors, mentors and supporters. Our portfolio companies also received a number of awards and recognitions this year, including from Chicago Inno’s 50 on Fire, Points of Light Civic Accelerator, Chicago Innovation Awards, Accelerate Michigan, Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship, Moxie Awards & more! (Not to mention, our investors got quite a few mentions!)
Our investor network continues to thrive and grow. We hosted nine events in 2016, including a conversation with Jean Case of the Case Foundation on the future of impact investing, an all-day impact investing bootcamp, a panel discussion on investing in the healthcare sector, a conversation with clean energy, water, and waste experts on resource efficiency, and an end-of-the-year portfolio showcase highlighting the work of six of our portfolio companies.
We continue to work hard to get the word out about impact investing and to support impact entrepreneurs. This year we shared interesting (and original!) thought pieces on millennial social entrepreneurs, impact entrepreneurship and purposeful capitalism in Chicago (and closing the inequality gap), explained why cash is more important than your mother, and profiled a number of our portfolio companies making an impact.
The Impact Engine team was also represented at numerous impact conferences this year, including March’s Lumina Impact Investing Convening, April’s UIUC Entrepreneurship Forum and Impact Capitalism Summit, May’s The Atlantic City Makers Summit, September’s SOCAP16, and October’s Irish Impact Conference. We were excited to be listed as one of 50 impact investing influencers to follow by the Case Foundation.
2016 was a busy year indeed! We now have over $11.7M under management across four funds, supporting a portfolio of 32 companies with 180+ employees and 75% women or minority founders.
In 2017, we are redoubling our focus and effort to create a better world through impact investing. As always, we’re especially grateful for your ongoing support of our mission to drive change. Happy Holidays!
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