Imagine impact investing, tech and consciousness in a festival format. Creativity, collaboration, and empathy combined into three days of moving the world forward. This is what is at the forefront of Katapult Future Fest but far from the full experience. This year, we ordered some extra sunshine as we gathered with global citizens on a mission to create a sustainable future through the power of exponential technologies and entrepreneurship.
Katapult Future Fest (KFF) offers the usual fair of a tech-related conference: speakers, panels, startup competitions, roundtable discussions. The overall point of this initiative: to discuss how tech can help solve the most pressing of challenges- from climate change to aging populations. People who attend believe in a better tomorrow, a better future. So it was fitting that this year, the theme was “The Future is You.”
A striking feature of this year’s KFF was the absence of keynote speakers. Each speaker is regarded as an expert in their field and rightly so, yet none of them come with an ego. In fact, some of the most impactful moments happen when you can directly interact with the speakers on stage. This is all done to facilitate more collaboration and to give everyone a chance to be a part of the conversation. Crowd shy? There are countless opportunities to continue the discussion afterward in a more laid-back environment. By taking KFF beyond conventional keynotes, these talks aren’t only more engaging but more meaningful as all voices are heard.
Every KFF kicks off with an Impact Investor Day preceding the official launch. Here, the why, how, and what of impact investing is introduced to investment leaders, fund managers, investment firms, foundation staff, and others who are driving positive social and environmental change through capital deployment.
Throughout the conference, exploring how to measure impact is discussed, and there is even a peer-to-peer feedback session, where impact journeys are shared and supported. Ultimately, this investor day combines the traditional elements of investing and purpose, thus providing a more collective understanding of how impact investing builds regenerative economies.
This was also evident through a discussion between Tellef Thorleifsson, CEO of Norfund, Norway´s development fund institution, who took the stage along with Andreas Saari, CEO of Slush who interviewed Thorleifsson on Norfund´s work across the globe and how vital ethical and impact-driven investments were for the fund. Norfund´s involvement at KFF is a testament to the fact that impact investments can and will see financial returns, speaking to Norfund´s core focus on investing in countries where their work will have the most significant impact.
At its core, KFF is about storytelling. You will find yourself at a carefully curated community dinner or on a hammock, sharing worldviews while sampling delicious eats. In this sense, KFF isn’t only a conference. It is a movement to shape the future.
For our part, we camped out in the startup tent, meeting with impact-driven startups interested to learn more about our program. Some of our alumni companies were also invited back as experts, a testament to the caliber of founders we have invested in. Joscha Raue, the co-founder of Think-iT, spoke on a panel about the emerging markets in Africa and its booming tech scene through his work in Tunisia with Think-iT while RxAll’s co-founder and CMO, Amy Kao, was front and center on the impact stage. A number of our mentors were also in attendance, and some like Soul Patel even hosted a talk on his insights into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We were also proud to see all the companies in our current cohort, pitching to an audience comprised of investors, startups, and entrepreneurs — complete with a judging panel … only twenty-four hours after they had all pitched at our Demo Day event. Talk about stamina! They wowed the crowd with their passion and commitment to create impact while driving financial gains. Four of them even came out on top in the overall standings (top 6); Sensefinity (Portugal), Red Flash (Senegal), Muni Digital (Argentina), and Develop Diverse (Denmark) and had the opportunity to then pitch again in the final round. We were of course on top of the world when the judges named Sensefinity as the grand winner across all rounds; giving us the opportunity to once again have a portfolio company clinch the winning title!
Kudos to Orlando Remedios and the team at Sensefinity!
All in all, this year was no exception to the uniqueness and excellence KFF provides to the global impact-driven ecosystem. We believe and know that turning challenges into opportunities is the best way to drive future success in a world where everyone thrives.
After all, as CEO of Nordic Impact, Cilia Holmes Indahl, reminded us during the closing ceremony (giving us a hint about next year’s theme), “The future is US!”