Why We’re Thankful for Our Investors

By Jessica Droste Yagan

November is a month of reflection and giving thanks. At Impact Engine, we are especially grateful for our incredible investors. We launched our first accelerator in 2012 and our first venture fund in 2015 thanks to a dedicated group of experienced entrepreneurs and angel investors, philanthropists, and senior executives who believe in investing for both financial return as well as social impact. Many of them have also put their time with their money, supporting us and our portfolio with their expertise and networks. But we’re also incredibly proud of our investors for the work they do outside of Impact Engine, helping to lead the way for more impact. Below we’ve profiled just a few of our many investors who are linking business and social good in their own work.

The Entrepreneurs

Nicole Chavas

Nicole Chavas is CEO and Co-Founder of Fresh Coast Capital, an urban revitalization firm that develops green stormwater infrastructure as a vehicle to deliver social, environmental, and economic impact to the communities that need the most support toward achieving equitable climate resiliency. Since inception, Fresh Coast, a certified B-Corp, has raised over $3M in capital from across the impact investment spectrum, including equity, convertible debt and grant capital, from investors and funders such as the Kresge Foundation and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Mike Evans

Founder of GrubHub, Mike Evans, started Fixer to get stuff fixed, easily, on his own schedule. Fixer is a same-day and scheduled handyperson app that makes it easy for clients to schedule a prompt, competent professional to fix stuff around the house. “Fixers” are full time employees with benefits who are given extensive and rigorous training. The mission of the company is to become a trade school disguised as a tech company.

The Investors

Mats Lederhausen

Mats Lederhausen is CEO and Founder of BE-CAUSE, a company which focuses on building businesses with a purpose bigger than their product. Since 2007, BE-CAUSE has been making impact investments in companies by asking three main questions: Is the team building a business in passionate pursuit of solving an important problem? Does the company have a great team that shares similar values? And what will customers ultimately pay for solving this problem?

Greg Lernihan

Greg Lernihan is passionate about impact investing and using personal and charitable capital for good. He is actively involved in impact investing through Creation Investments, a private equity fund focused on investing in microfinance institutions, small and medium enterprise lenders, emerging market banks and other financial service institutions in India and Southeast Asia. He is also a board member and investor at Impact Foundation, which invests charitable capital to create economic, social and spiritual transformation. Lernihan says, “if we could get donor-advised funds and foundations to invest just 10% of their charitable capital into impact investing, we would more than double the current dollars dedicated to impact investing.” He has also made direct investments and loans with local Chicago companies like Chicago Hope Academy, OWP Pharmaceuticals and Garfield Produce, as well as international businesses like Zompopero Hydroelectric Company (Honduras), Supply Hope (Nicaragua), and JOYN (India).

The Advisors

Roger Liew

Earlier this month we announced that Roger Liew will be joining our team as Operating Partner in 2018. Not only is Roger Liew a respected technology leader with a long history of leading technical teams at multiple startup companies based in Chicago including ShopRunner, Orbitz and G2 Switchworks, but he is also a longtime investor and mentor for Impact Engine. We’re excited to have Roger on board to lend his deep technical and operating experience to make an even bigger impact in supporting our portfolio companies.

Bruce Taylor

Two years ago, Bruce Taylor began exploring how he and his colleagues could make an impact in the greater Chicago community by working with small business owners. Today, under the umbrella of three organizations; The Jewish Black Business Alliance, The Chicago Urban League, and Sunshine Enterprise, Bruce and his partners have launched a mentoring program that is working with over 20 small businesses predominantly located on the City’s south and west sides. The goal of these organizations is to continue to create more economic opportunity throughout all of Chicago.

We are thankful for each of our investors not only for giving their money, time, and energy into supporting Impact Engine portfolio companies, but for paving the way in many other avenues of social impact.

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