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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 (

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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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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Chuck Templeton’s Challenge to the Community at Impact Engine’s Demo Day

This post is adapted from Chuck Templeton’s speech at Impact Engine’s Demo Day on January 15, 2014 at Untitled Chicago. Demo Day is a showcase of our startups to community and business leaders throughout Chicago and beyond.
Why we are here.
We are here today because we know we can help build a better world. Too many people go to bed hungry, our food is too carbon intensive, our education system is not meeting the needs of our kids, there is too much wasteful consumption, our communities are not designed for the future in front of us, too many people eat alone, too much human capital is rotting away in our jails and prisons, our energy is too dirty, our existing resources of clean water are diminishing, there is still too much poverty, and our stable climate of the past 10,000 years is changing. We are here because our ecology is the foundation of our economy. We are here because people deserve to live with dignity.

We are here because there are entrepreneurs here and they see challenges like the ones I listed above as opportunities. They see weaknesses in the status quo and they see ways to use new business models, or new technologies, or new social norms as a force for positive change. Entrepreneurs see we can do better than we have so far. They see ways to disrupt the current mindset of mission OR money with mission AND money.

We are here because there are investors here who see the same opportunities. They see a way to make money AND solve some of the biggest challenges of our time. They are here […]

By |February 25, 2014|

Recap: Impact 1 Launch Party

Well, it finally happened. After months of planning, networking, coordinating, and stressing, the Impact Engine is up and running.  And boy, do we have a great group of entrepreneurs ready to change the world. We kicked off our first week last Monday, September 10th with an awesome Launch Party event at 1871. The bash, which was sponsored by CDW and SonicWall, gave potential mentors and partners the opportunity to meet with our companies and to learn more about Impact Engine and its mission. Below are some highlights from the event. We’re excited (and anxious) for the next 12 weeks, and we’re grateful for the support of Chicago’s robust entrepreneurial community. We would not be here without all of you. Many thanks. Photos by Steve Stearns.

Managing director Chuck Templeton speaking to Launch Party guests.

Our first class of entrepreneurs, Impact 1, being introduced at the Launch Party.


Eileen Murphy, founder of


Alan Hurt, chief technology officer for Light Up Africa, explaining his business to attendees.

Ameet Mehta, co-founder of Azadi, with David Gardner of Colorjar.


Mike Tang and Shayan Nahrvar of Raise5.


By |September 17, 2012|

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