Maggie Stohler

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About Maggie Stohler

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So far has created 36 blog entries.
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Looking for Jobs with Impact?

At Impact Engine, we get lots of inquiries about where to look for and apply to social impact jobs. While we always direct people to our Social Impact Jobs Board and post #impinv and #socent #jobs on Twitter (@theimpactengine), we’ve also decided to round up some of our favorite organizations and search engines that post job listings in the social impact or impact investing sector. Whether you’re a recent college grad seeking an entry-level position or a senior-level executive looking to transition towards more meaningful, impactful work, these resources have something to offer for job seekers in every step of their career.

National

Net Impact is a global community of students and professionals committed to developing social impact careers. If you’re looking for US-based jobs, Net Impact’s Jobs and Internships Board is a great resource for finding open positions in the social impact sector. They have a free monthly newsletter, which includes resources for finding impact jobs and the most recently posted job listings on their site. Be sure to check out their Job Search Tools page for additional resources on the search process, as well as field overviews of different impact sectors including impact investing. We especially recommend their Impact Investing career guide, a step by step toolkit for searching, applying, interviewing and landing a job in impact investing.

Back in March, we wrote about the B Corps movement, a group of for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Corps has its own Jobs Board for openings at certified B Corps companies in the community. This comprehensive […]

By |December 20, 2016|
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Impact Engine Fall Portfolio Showcase

On Thursday, December 1st, Impact Engine hosted a Fall Portfolio Showcase at ContextMedia (hosted by Shradha Agarwal, one of our investors). We gathered for a night of networking with our investors, their families, and several of our portfolio companies across our four funds.  The companies shared updates about their progress since joining the Impact Engine community, their plans for 2017 and beyond, and how our network can continue to provide support. In case you missed it, we’ve drafted some key takeaways from each presentation. If you’d like to connect with any of these companies, please email Maggie Stohler (maggie@theimpactengine.com).

Impact Engine I

ThinkCERCA is an online platform designed to empower teachers to personalize literacy instruction across disciplines. ThinkCERCA helps whole school teams differentiate for engaging learning in classrooms of diverse learners. Since joining our first accelerator, they have engaged 102K students at 416 schools in 36 states. On average, students using the platform gained an extra year’s worth of academic growth, equivalent to closing the achievement gap by 264%  for low-income students. They are currently growing their team and are looking for key hires, including a Lead Product Designer and Sales Leadership.

Impact Engine III

Infiniteach develops innovative digital apps to to help children with autism build skills, learn and grow. Infiniteach has recently expanded to the B2B market, connecting their digital platform with businesses and museums that want to support autism accessibility within the community. They’ve secured partnerships with the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Autism Speaks, and are looking for leads in the travel, retail and healthcare fields.

Prana Diabetes – Prana Diabetes is tackling the growth of diabetes through HabitNu, a scalable, […]

By |December 8, 2016|
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State of the Art: Impact Investing’s Evolution & Future

State of the Art: Impact Investing’s Evolution & Future

Fireside Chat with The Case Foundation’s Jean Case & Impact Engine’s Jessica Droste Yagan

On Tuesday, November 15th, the University of Chicago Polsky Center, Social Enterprise Initiative and Impact Engine hosted Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, for a lunchtime discussion on the evolution and future of impact investing with Impact Engine CEO, Jessica Droste Yagan. Together they discussed philanthropy’s role as a catalyst for social change, how millennials will shape the sector moving forward, and the Case Foundation’s new impact investing visualization tool that provides both investors and entrepreneurs with more knowledge on this growing marketplace. Each attendee received the Case Foundation’s concise and informative A Short Guide to Impact Investing, which outlines impact investing for both new and seasoned investors.  You can check out a video of the entire session or read below for some key takeaways.

The Importance of Impact Investing

Jean Case and her husband Steve founded the Case Foundation in 1997 to reflect their family’s commitment to giving back. The foundation is committed to creating programs and investing in people and organizations that use entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and collaboration to have an exponential social impact. While all investment has an impact, the Case Foundation believes impact investments should be intentional, transparent, measurable and used as a tool to align capital investment with one’s values. The Case Foundation has become a national leader of the impact investing movement, creating pathways to impact investing through “educating, inspiring and activating” current investors to think critically about their investments. For those new to the field, Jean challenged investors to analyze the impact of […]

By |November 29, 2016|
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Bruce Taylor on Impact Investments & the Impact Engine Community

Bruce Taylor is an investor in Impact Engine IV. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of MB Financial Bank and as member of the governing commission of the Hillels of Illinois, board of governors of the Metropolitan Planning Council, Midwest trustees of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and is a director of MTL Insurance Company. Read more about what Bruce looks for in his impact investments and why he finds value in being a part of the Impact Engine community.

Tell us about how you first became involved with impact investing.

After we merged Cole Taylor Bank into MB Financial in 2014, I began the second chapter of my career. One of the interests I wanted to pursue was investing in closely held businesses through venture capital and private equity opportunities. I was introduced to Impact Engine by a longtime friend who knew about my passions for giving back and entrepreneurship in Chicago. It was the quality of the leadership and fellow investors that sealed the deal.

As an investor in Impact Engine’s portfolio companies, can you tell us about the strategies you use when evaluating investments? What are some of the key qualities you look for in the companies you invest in?

A few key questions I ask are:

Is the idea interesting?
Is the potential market, in terms of numbers of customers, large?
Most important, the quality of the people behind the venture. Are they passionate about what they are doing? Do they evidence high energy, willingness to persevere through inevitable obstacles and challenges, and are they resourceful?

I also seek the opportunity to collaborate with other […]

By |November 28, 2016|
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Zero Percent Launches SnackPass to Reduce Food Waste

Zero Percent is an online food donation marketplace that helps businesses move surplus, edible food to nearby soup kitchens and shelters, reducing both hunger and waste. They were part of our second accelerator class in 2014.  Zero Percent recently launched SnackPass, an app that provides delicious, nutritious snacks from a variety of local restaurants. We recently caught up with Rajesh Karmani, CEO and Founder, to learn more about SnackPass and the future of the company.

Tell us the story behind Zero Percent.

In 2012, I was a graduate student in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I frequently visited a bagel shop between my home and my grad school office, where they baked everything fresh each morning. I learned that the shop could never perfectly predict how much food they would sell each day and always ended up with excess bagels. The shop owner Marc wanted to donate the extra food to a local nonprofit, but it was difficult for him to find out which nonprofit would need the food and how he could deliver it. I knew that technology marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist could effectively match supply and demand, so I thought, “Why wasn’t there an online food donation marketplace?” During a hackathon event hosted by the UIUC computer science department, I created Zero Percent.

What are some of the challenges you face building a food tech business and how have you overcome them?

The first big challenge was to understand the variables involved in matching excess food with a need in the community. Secondly, we needed to figure out how to rescue food in a large city like […]

By |November 18, 2016|
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Newest Players in the Chicago Impact Scene

In past blog posts, we’ve written about the next generation of social entrepreneurs in Chicago and why impact entrepreneurship is thriving in Chicago. We’re excited to highlight a few of the newest players in the field; we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the growing community of Chicago impact entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and champions of impact!

Ekistic Ventures

In September, David Spielfogel and Brett Goldstein announced the launch of Ekistic Ventures, a VC firm that plans to invest in startups that make cities more equitable and efficient. Spielfogel is one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former top advisors and Goldstein the ex-chief data officer for the city of Chicago. While working for the city, they noticed that young entrepreneurs building technology often lacked the urban strategy knowledge to turn their small scale ideas into big picture solutions. Ekistic Ventures has launched a $15 million fund that will invest in seed-stage companies bringing new solutions to critical urban problems. Ekistic takes a holistic approach to problem-solving, partnering with research institutions, big businesses, mayors, city government officials and entrepreneurs to tackle the most significant urban challenges.

INVEST Chicago

Launched in 2016 by Good City, INVEST Chicago is an initiative aimed at mobilizing individuals to give their time, talents and finances to social entrepreneurs and nonprofits making a difference in Chicago. They provide philanthropic grants and impact investment opportunities to nonprofits and social entrepreneurs to support strategic and sustainable ideas with strong leadership. INVEST Chicago works with foundations, corporate partners and the city of Chicago to identify and invest in projects serving the most under-resourced communities in Chicago. Their first portfolio, the Women’s Innovation Fund, […]

By |October 28, 2016|
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How ClassroomIQ improves grading

ClassroomIQ bridges the gap between pencil-and-paper assessments and the cloud by enabling teachers to grade assessments on any web-connected device. This platform automatically grades hand-written short answer and multiple-choice answers and also allows teachers to self-grade more complex open responses. We caught up with Steve Dillinger, founder of ClassroomIQ, to hear more about the platform and the future of the organization.

Tell us the story behind ClassroomIQ.

In 2010, I organized a grassroots movement to improve the low-performing elementary school in my Chicago neighborhood. Through my work with the school, I was exposed to education at all levels- from teachers in their classrooms to administrators in the central office. I was struck by the lack of technology available to teachers for improving their own workflow. I found that too much time was spent on administrative tasks, time that could be better spent helping students. I believed I could leverage my experience developing productivity tools for the financial industry to develop productivity tools for teachers, so I started developing ClassroomIQ.

Besides faster grading, what other aspects of your platform have led to teacher and student satisfaction?

Ask a non-teacher to explain what grading is and they will typically describe scoring- assigning a point value to a student answer. While teachers using our platform report much faster scoring times (up to 100% faster when using our auto-scoring technology), the real benefit comes from the other component of grading – student feedback.

Classroom-level assessment is not an end in itself. There is tremendous value in providing feedback to students addressing the concepts they do not grasp.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints, feedback is often terse and returned to […]

By |October 26, 2016|
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Investing in Better Health Panel & Showcase

Chicago is a hotbed of innovation in the healthcare industry, yet many healthcare startups lack access to investment capital at the seed stage. This intersection of healthcare and impact investing was the focus of the Investing in Better Health Panel & Showcase on Thursday, October 6th. Impact Engine co-hosted the discussion with MATTER and Furthur Fund, bringing together members of the healthcare and impact investing communities for an afternoon of discussion and demonstration.

The event began with remarks from Steve Collens, CEO of MATTER, and a panel over lunch with Jessica Droste Yagan (CEO, Impact Engine), Tasha Seitz (CIO, Impact Engine), Jordan Dolin (Co-Founder, Emmi Solutions), and David Cohn (CEO, Regroup Therapy). The panel focused on trends in healthcare and impact investing, and strategies for making a great return on investment while improving the healthcare system. Below are key takeaways from the panel.

Macro Trends in Healthcare

Jordan began by giving an overview of the macro-level trends seen in today’s healthcare industry. Money is a big motivator and a growing trend has been the transition from fee-for-service models to fee-for-value service models. The US healthcare system is globally ranked as one of the most expensive service models, spending nearly $10,000/person each year. And yet the system still suffers from the “Innovation Gap”, which means there is a growing need for fast, quality care and a large market, yet an increasing number of barriers to innovation. The system struggles to balance making money and creating a product that fixes modern issues at a reasonable cost.

Macro Trends in Impact Investing

Impact investing is a fast-growing practice in Chicago and beyond. Investors want to align their […]

By |October 14, 2016|
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Impact Investing Bootcamp

This month, Impact Engine, Arabella Advisors, and Forefront hosted an Impact Investing Bootcamp to educate and equip people to begin impact investing in their or their clients’ portfolios. Participants ranged from family offices and foundations to philanthropic and wealth advisers. They came with varying degrees of experience in impact investing, but all shared a common interest and commitment to action.

The day began with Tasha Seitz, Chief Investment Office of Impact Engine, and Julia Sze, Managing Director of Impact Investing at Arabella, running the group through an overview of impact investing and a discussion around the investment spectrum. They highlighted how each part of the spectrum might be relevant for different types of investor, and a debate unfolded around maximizing returns versus maximizing impact and where there are opportunities to have both. They shared the example of the KL Felicitas Foundation, which made a pledge to transform its portfolio into an impact portfolio a number of years ago. Since then, the foundation has reported on its track record and its specific investments and has demonstrated that a portfolio that considers impact can deliver market rate returns.  

Tasha and Julia also outlined three potential approaches to implementing an impact investing strategy in one’s own portfolio. The “Learn By Doing” approach entails making early stage direct investments and “seeing what sticks.” It is a good approach for those who are comfortable with risk, enjoy being up close and personal when working with entrepreneurs, and want to learn by doing and getting personally engaged. The “Assess and Upgrade” approach encourages investors to take stock of their public equity and debt portfolio, and to […]

By |September 30, 2016|
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Impact Engine Reflects on SOCAP16

SOCAP (Social Capital Markets), the world’s largest conference on social enterprise and impact investing, took place at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California this week. Jessica Droste Yagan and Tasha Seitz of Impact Engine both attended #SOCAP16 to speak on a few panels and connect with others in the impact investing field. Earlier this month, Tasha and Jessica wrote an article on the SOCAP blog, sharing Impact Engine’s model and their thoughts on the state of impact investing in Chicago and beyond. Below, they’ve shared a recap and their thoughts on this year’s conference.

It was so great to attend SOCAP16 in San Francisco, surrounded by the energy and excitement of the SOCAP community. As veteran attendees (this is Jessica’s third and Tasha’s fifth conference), we are always energized to be around smart people who are passionate about the potential of the intersection of impact and markets. We even crossed paths with two of our own portfolio companies (Develop Link and Sokowatch).

One of the highlights of the conference was hearing from the many entrepreneurs building solutions to important problems. Tasha had the opportunity to speak with the 2016 SOCAP Scholarship Recipients, close to 150 entrepreneurs from 35+ countries, about how to get the most out of their conference experience. A key piece of advice — which applies to all entrepreneurs at all times — was to always be ready with a set of “asks” related to business support and introductions, and focus on building and nurturing existing relationships as well as making valuable new connections.

This year we also noticed a growing interest in direct investing among the investor community. […]

By |September 27, 2016|

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