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Social Enterprise: Our New Collective Consciousness

In yesterday’s article in Reuters, “Perfect Storm,” writer Deborah Cohen highlights the fastest growing sector in venture capital investment: cleantech.

The rapidly growing success of this sector can be attributed to a number of things: improved technology, government recognizing the need for alternative energy solutions, as well as consumer demand.

Sky Lance, manager of the Patient Capital Collaborative (PCC), a fund incubated by Investors’ Circle that invests in our venture fair presenters, explains a recent paradigm shift: “the ideas of global warming and one’s carbon footprint all the way to recycling and the War on Iraq [are] part of everybody’s consciousness now.”  This collective consciousness and heightened awareness is, fortunately, resulting in concrete action towards preserving our world’s resources.  Investors’ Circle is pleased to be a renowned resource during this transition.

What is unique about the field of social enterprise is that it addresses two of our most pertinent needs–the need to solve our world’s environmental and social problems, and the need to drive money into our unstable economy.

Rather than working on getting their 501c3 statuses, many companies with social missions are going the for-profit route these days.  Bikestation, an organization that builds urban bike-transit centers for cyclists looking to store their bikes and gear in a secure environment, profiled in the Reuters’ article, is one such company that has made this choice.  After operating 13 years as a non-profit, Bikestation realized they could grow more rapidly and create more impact with the help of funding intermediaries.  With new investment dollars, they are on a mission grow their 11 facilities to 200 by 2014, generating $30 million in annual revenue.

Here at Investors’ Circle, we have also seen the pool of mission-driven entrepreneurs explode over the last few months.  Our spring application round was the largest in the history of the organization!  Business Development Director, Deb Parsons, attributes the stepped up activity in part to the tightening of the credit markets, noting more activity from established players in the sector.  “It could be an indication of the maturity of the businesses, the types of companies that are joining the sector,” she says. “I think it’s also an indication of the debt markets being locked up.”  Thankfully, our network of angel investors, VCs, small funds, and family foundations can offer their support when traditional avenues are not available.

Although a long and difficult process, our diligent selection committees have selected the top companies and these 21 superstars are ready to take the stage in two short weeks!  In this fiercely competitive landscape, we can rest assured that our spring presenters are certainly something special–companies serving a purpose, seizing emergent opportunities.

Learn more about our upcoming venture fair and conference here. simple-top-banner-s09

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