Yesterday eight social entrepreneurs teamed up through ClearlySo’s speed dating event with eight possible impact investors to seek initial chemistry and possibly even some electric sparks resulting in further dating.
ClearlySo’s concept of a practical (and efficient) way of teaming up entrepreneurs with investors is proving popular. This is what the impact investment sector needs: established, concrete practices of intermediation.
I attended the speed dating as Social Finance is exploring the concept of a fund investing in socially motivated companies. The candidates on display at the event varied quite a bit – both in terms of their financial ask and in terms of the social impact they are pursuing.
As I am driven by a floor size of the requested investment, I particularly liked those entrepreneurs that made a confident pitch for quite large sums of money. Having a current five-figure turnover, yet asking for a seven-figure investment indicates either foolishness or ambition: Last night’s smart and dedicated entrepreneurs cannot be the former – so they absolutely have to be the latter!
My favourites were Reds 10 Ltd and Elvis & Kresse. Reds 10 Ltd is a company headed by Tom Storey with past experience in construction and urban regeneration. Reds 10 enable unemployed local residents into work on local construction projects. The business idea thus goes to the core of many social issues: assisting marginalised and vulnerable young adults, employment and local community cohesion.
Elvis & Kress is a completely different type of business. Elvis & Kresse make accessories from reclaimed materials. Specifically, the company makes bags and fashion accessories from retired fire brigade hoses (!), old coffee and tea sacks, military-grade parachute silk and shoe boxes.
I thought the event was highly sucessful, and I look forward to engaging in further dialogue with these two exciting companies.
By Annika Tverin, Director at Social Finance