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:

  1. Is the idea interesting?
  2. Is the potential market, in terms of numbers of customers, large?
  3. 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 potential investors who may see things I miss or have perspectives that improve my own decision making. I am still new at this, so I have much to learn.     

How does your background play a role in the way you’re able to support companies that you do choose to invest in?

As a banker whose focus was on closely-held businesses, I spent a good part of my career evaluating business models and business owners. Bankers also have the opportunity to observe thousands of businesses and what their owners do that makes them successful or not. Though the lessons learned don’t always translate in venture investing, understanding what is most important and focusing on those key priorities is a critical success factor. I have also built many relationships through my involvement in the Chicago business community for almost 40 years. I always enjoy making introductions to my network that could be helpful to entrepreneurs.

Why do you think it is valuable to be part of the Impact Engine investor community?

Being part of Impact Engine has afforded me the opportunity to meet like-minded investors, share notes, take advantage of the angel investing education provided, see opportunities I would otherwise not have been aware of, and meet many talented entrepreneurs. I place a great deal of value on my involvement with this community.

Can you share some examples of other impact investments you’ve made outside of Impact Engine?

Glad you asked this one. The largest impact investment my family and I have made has been in the banking industry. We have a history of involvement in the communities where we do business. Our philosophy is based on the understanding that it is in our interest to support economic activity and the quality of life wherever we do business. As a local bank, we decided it was critical for us to invest in Chicago. We can only be as strong as the communities we served.

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