Jon Rose, Pro Surfer, Founder: Waves for Water

Surfing the Waves of Social Enterprise

COMMON
COMMON

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By Rob Schuham, Co-Founder of COMMON and 17. Edited by Julia Dopp.

As a co-founder and investor in multiple companies, organizations, and startups that either have positive social change at their core, or folded into their missions, I have been immersed in the social enterprise world for close to a decade. Over the last few years, I have taken a half step back to try and observe what’s been transpiring in the space more objectively. Why? I’m actively trying to ascertain whether continued impact investing makes economic sense for me. I have found myself both enchanted and disenchanted, and while my intentions are to continue to put energy and capital into world-positive efforts, I’m at a place in my investing career where I’ve decided to pause and take stock of my experience thus far.

When I look back on my investing history with a glass-half-empty mentality, it’s riddled with questionable bets and company failures. Some companies with the most noble intentions and missions — including the first organic skin care company, a ‘buy-one-give-one’ condom company, a sustainable couture brand and others — have wreaked havoc on my wallet. I made these investments with my heart more than my brain. Conversely, my decidedly non social enterprise bets in technology, food and booze have fared much better.

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COMMON
COMMON

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