It’s not easy for tech startups to land investments, but it’s a fairly standard playbook, with local funding sources buoyed by central tech hubs in places like San Francisco and New York. That’s not so for the world of “impact investing,” where well-to-do individuals and groups look to make a positive impact on the world by investing in things like clean water, energy and poverty solutions.
There’s no Silicon Valley for impact investors, and it’s something that Seattle-area startup and nonprofit veterans Luni Libes and Matt Eldridge learned when they tried to start a seed fund investing in companies that wanted to make the world a better place. As they looked for co-investors, they ran into a level of specificity — some only invested in certain areas like Africa or South America, while others had preferred issues such as poverty, or energy — that made it difficult to find people and groups to team up with.
So Libes and Eldridge decided to shift their focus and build a network that matches impact investors with fellow investors as well as deals. In January, they launched Investorflow, which does just that. Libes told GeekWire last week that the goal is to become a global facilitator to make these kinds of investments happen.
So far, Libes said, it’s been going well. In about two months 85 people and groups have signed up. Libes and Eldridge invited numerous impact investors from around the world.
Those who sign up get a profile, where they designate geographical preferences, the type of business they want to invest in and preferred deal size. Using a semi-automated process on the backend, the site matches like-minded investors and sets them up with deals that meet their preferences.
“We are matching investors to deals and deals to investors, it’s like online dating,” Libes said.
Investorflow is a project of Realize Impact, a nonprofit Libes started in 2013 to fund and support startups looking to solve social problems. Investorflow operates out of Impact Hub Seattle. So far, it is self-funded and Libes and Eldridge are running the service along with a single volunteer.
Libes has been around the tech and impact investment communities for more than 20 years as a startup founder, investor and advisor. To underscore the differences, and available cash in the world of tech and impact investing, he claimed tech investments overshadowed impact investing by a margin of $66 billion to $1 billion in 2015.
Libes said Investorflow has already landed a diverse set of investors, including an angel group from Australia and a collective network made up of more than 200 investors. As Investorflow continues to grow, the goal remains to provide a central place for impact investors, keeping them from having to scour the globe for partners and deals.
“The challenge and the benefit of being in the world of social good is that you can raise money anywhere, but the problem is you have to raise money everywhere.”