3 Ways to Get the Attention of Impact Investors

For any startup, the pathway to sustainability is tough, but add the pressure of a product that makes a difference to people or planet, and it is really tough – you’re balancing building your product or service, navigating the legal minefield of setting up a company, building a team, embedding systems and processes, creating awareness of your product and trying to pay your bills. Sometimes you will need outside investment to get there. Enter impact investors – they are a growing number of investors looking for a return through both social impact and financial return.

So what’s the best way to get the attention of impact investors? Here are 3 tips for making sure you’re on the right track…

1 | Be Uber Clear on Your Impact

From the inception of your organisation’s public profile there should be an understanding of how your offering will solving a problem in society. This impact should be at the centre of all communications and sung loud and clear! It’s not just about the size of the problem (although it doesn’t hurt if you’re solving a big problem), but it’s about the extent to which your solution brings sizeable relief to a well articulated problem.

Professor Alnoor Ebrahim from the Harvard Business Review stated the importance of utilising evidence in showing the difference your organisation is making, rather than simply making grand, but general claims. So instead of reiterating mission statements, use community feedback, data and research to demonstrate the impact you’re making.

Sound Scouts, a startup who was part of Remarkable’s first cohort, is focused on improving children’s experience with education by creating accessible and easy-to-use hearing tests. Sound Scouts noticed that children were slipping through the cracks in getting their hearing properly assessed, often being “diagnosed” as behavioural issues at school. Sound Scouts is both clinically proven (published in the International Journal of Audiology) and they are super clear on their impact, leading to the Federal Government recently announcing support for making Sound Scouts accessible to more than 600,000 Australian school children over the next 4-5 years. Not only is this a huge success for Sound Scouts, but it will change the lives of thousands of kids. How’s that for clear impact?!

2 | Have a Sense of Urgency

There are countless good causes out there – all doing really important work, and sadly that creates a level of “noise” that if you’re to get the attention of impact investors, you need to rise above. A sense of urgency is helping to show people that “the time is now” for this impact. There is little incentive for people who are unaffected to engage with the issue and ultimately the service. Therefore, in order to encourage action it’s crucial to drive necessity and to relate this issue back to something a greater audience cares about.

Xceptional, a tech company that harnesses the unique talents of people with autism and assists them in finding employment, use a personal story that affects the founder to create a sense of urgency. Founder, Mike Tozer’s driving force is his young son, who has autism and will be entering the workforce in ten years time. By 2028, they aim to make Xceptional the rule, rather than the exception. It’s not a niche problem either. In Australia, 1 in 70 people have autism, and the unemployment rate for people with autism is almost six times the rate of people without disability (31.6% vs 5.3%). Without a discernible way to change this pattern this number will only increase. Xceptional has recently been awarded $1m from the Google Impact Challenge which will fast-track development of their anxiety-reducing recruitment app. Not only is this an outstanding achievement for Xceptional, but it shows the effectiveness of urgent communications in attracting support from investors.

3 | Use Story to Move People

As emotional beings, stories which engage us emotionally tie us together, help us understand each other, and are what make us human. They are also more easily remembered and shared.

Testimonials are a good way for companies to appeal to consumer emotions: having someone telling their story of how your product/ service changed their life is significantly more compelling than listing off the functional attributes of the product. This is particularly important for a social enterprise, where the product/service can have a genuinely life-changing effect on someone’s life.

Autism Swim use this technique very effectively in their communications. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are 160 times more likely to drown, according to Columbia University research, a statistic which shocked Founder Erika Gleeson into action. Not only does Autism Swim provide the necessary training for instructors, but allows children with ASD to experience swimming and have fun in the water in the way all children should. Erika has heard the shocking stories of children with ASD who have sadly drowned (watch the video on their homepage), but she uses the positive stories of those who now know how to swim to encourage support from the public and investors.

So if you’re clear on your impact, have created a sense of urgency and use story to motivate – you will be guaranteed to be closer to having successful conversations with impact investors.

Remarkable is leading the way with Founder Wellbeing

We know how stressful it is to run a startup. Add in the additional pressure of people relying on your startup – it’s a lot of responsibility and it can be exhausting. That’s why, we’ve welcomed Sean Hall as Head of Founder Wellbeing to our team. We’re working on developing purpose driven leaders who will see it through and we know they need energy to do that. We believe this is a first for accelerator programs in Australia and we hope that others will follow.

Sean Hall, Head of Founder Wellbeing

Sean is a long time friend of Remarkable. DiversityX, Sean’s first startup, was part of Cohort 1. Since then Sean has gone on to launch Energx, a performance training and coaching company that enables people, leaders and organisations to excel in times of disruption and change.

We asked Sean to tell us more about himself and how he’s working with Cohort 3 throughout their 16 week’s with Remarkable.

Tell us a little bit about you and Energx

I’m on my fifth career (fitness, marketing, technology and HR have come before) and Energx is an eclectic mix of what I’ve learned along the way – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve built two start ups and worked as employee #11 in another. On the corporate side I’ve been responsible for a $10B brand impacting 16 million customers and designed culture strategy for 40,000 people. I have five world firsts in bringing tech innovations to life. But perhaps most importantly, I learned why wellbeing is important the hard way by suffering burnout, or what I call an energy crisis, twice in three years.

While I was on the Remarkable Accelerator, I realised that one of the biggest barriers to social change is that people are simply too stressed and tired to provide significant help. This realisation led me to launch Energx. We created and teach a skill called energy intelligence designed to help people increase the quantity and quality of energy we have. We believe when we collectively have more in the tank will see social change progress faster.

What’s the Remarkable wellbeing program involve and what results are you hoping to see?

Mental health and burnout statistics for entrepreneurs are shockingly high coupled with a startup culture that seems to make heroes out of people doing ridiculous hours. Our focus is on prevention with my job to build the energy intelligence in the cohort so they are more aware of what is impacting their energy and therefore make better decisions.

Each of the cohort have completed our unique Energx ExIQ assessment which determines their current energy and helps them set new energy goals. I’ll help them get to their goals.

We kicked off the program with a group session last Friday which was designed around the aggregated data of the cohort. At the end of the session everyone had a plan to confidently get them to their goals. Throughout the program, each of the Founders will have 1:1 coaching sessions to keep them accountable and on track.

Each week we’re also asking them to set a ‘no fail’ goal that’s relevant to their wellbeing in the same way they do for their business. And finally we’ll assess everyone in 12 weeks time to track their progress and maintain their momentum. This is so everyone is at their most energised leading into the last weeks of the program and demo day.

Why is wellbeing important on an accelerator program?

Ultimately it is the quantity and quality of energy we have that determines our ability to be and feel successful. We literally cannot achieve what we don’t have energy for. Of course there are the obvious health benefits to a wellbeing program but what I’m really focusing on is the most important part of their bodies – their brains. Their ability to build their cognitive energy will be directly linked to their ability to create value.

All the skills that are required by the startups to achieve the impact they desire are super hard when we’re tired. You need energy for things like complex problem solving, decision making, creativity, building empathy, critical thinking, building relationships and just having fun.

What are your top five wellbeing tips to help the cohort?

1. Never lose sight of who and what really matters. Success is worthless if you’ve got no one to share it with. Failing and being alone is even worse. Always make sure your best energy is available to the people who matter most.

2. Fully utilise everything that the wellbeing stream of the program has to offer. Follow your personalised energy plan to enable you to be your energised best.

3. Make sleep and hydration a priority. Every day we wake up tired, we start behind. Drink enough water to optimise brain function. It really is the simple things sometimes.

4. Reframe your diary as energy vs time. Focus on activities which are energising and important, as these will be the ones that drive the most value, most quickly.

5. Make time to ‘shimmy’ every day – one of my favourite quotes is “life is too important to be taken seriously” after all if you can’t have fun doing it, what’s the point?!

Two minutes with the Founder of Autism Swim, Erika Gleeson

Erika Gleeson
Erika Gleeson, Founder of Autism Swim

Erika Gleeson is the Founder of Autism Swim, one of seven startups in Cohort 3 of the Remarkable Accelerator this year. We sat down with Erika to find out more about Autism Swim, what parts of the program she’s looking forward to and what she’s nervous about….

Tell us about Autism Swim. What’s the problem you’re solving for people with disability?

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism Swim are water safety and swimming specialists, on a mission to facilitate change, and address the many reasons as to why the problem exists.

What inspired you to start this?

We stumbled across the hugely underreported drowning statistics, specifically that children with ASD are 160 times more likely to drown than their paediatric peers. Being that we are ASD specialists, we leapt into action and as a result, Autism Swim was born.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing with building Autism Swim and how do you think Remarkable can help you overcome it?

We are autism specialists who understand the problem very well, however we’re excited to work with Remarkable to come up with a more tech-focus to the organisation. Through Remarkable’s guidance and network, we look forward to reaching as many swimming instructors, families and participants as possible in order to facilitate as much change as we intend to.

What parts of the accelerator are you most looking forward to?

I’m particularly looking forward to the concentrated support which will be received through our mentors; as well as working collaboratively with the other teams in the cohort – watching them all grow and us learning from one another.

Are there any parts of the accelerator that you’re nervous about?

Regardless of how much public speaking I’ve done, I still get nervous about pitching; so I can’t say that part of it excites me, however it’s obviously one of the many necessary and very valuable evils of startup life!

Do you have any tips for startups who are trying to get on an accelerator program?

Articulate exactly what you are hoping to get out of the program, not only because you will be asked this question a lot along the journey, but because it will help you with your application. I’ve met a lot of startups that can articulate the problem they are trying to solve well, however when it comes to explaining their solution, it’s not succinct and transparent enough. Knowing how to explain your organisation (particularly the solution) effectively and efficiently, will be a constant golden ticket throughout the journey.

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you recommend to others?

I’m reading a lot of change-making books right now for inspiration (e.g just finished the Fred Hollows autobiography). Enjoying Hidden Brain podcast as well as any books centred on efficiency, of which there are many great ones.

Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date on our Founders and their accelerator journey.