City Light Capital
This venture fund has been finding small and growing companies making innovations in safety, education, and the environment since 2004. They give out between $1 and $3 million per investment, and it's a hard numbers game for City Light. They are so measurement-obsessed that each company they invest in must sign a letter promising to hit specific, measurable social impact goals that get reported just like financial metrics. If you can't measure it, you can't get this cash.
Advice from Matt Cohen, principal
Do: Come with a quantifiable measure of your impact.
"Explain exactly how your core business or product is going to deliver impact and how you intend to quantify that," Cohen says, citing Glacier Bay Technologies as a strong example. Diesel trucks idle overnight to keep the cab warm and lit while the driver rests, in the process spewing pollution for eight or more extra hours a day. Glacier Bay offers an electric battery alternative that cuts 3,000 gallons of diesel use per truck per year. "That has a corresponding number of CO2 tons reduced for each truck, and you can aggregate up" to an exact measure of environmental impact for the whole fleet and the whole company.
Don't: Underestimate the competition.
"One of the silliest things people say is we have no real competitors [...] In all likelihood, we know who the competitors are and if you demonstrate a naïveté, it is only going to discredit you."
Photo courtesy of Matt Cohen.