The grassroots movement connecting capital to impact start-ups: Shaper Impact Capital

August 13, 2020

Raising capital as a start-up is hard. For every successful “XYZ start-up raised $2 million” headline on TechCrunch, there are hundreds, if not thousands of companies who failed. For an impact focused start-up, the fundraising journey can be even more challenging. Not only does the company need to find investors, they also need to find those that believe in making a wider impact beyond that of pure financial return.

Enter: Shaper Impact Capital.

Shaper Impact Capital aim is to feature impactful start-ups. Founded by a team of experienced venture capitalists who are part of the Global Shaper Community, Shaper Impact Capital supports impact start-ups. They do this via featuring two curated groups on the platform:

  1. Social impact investors, angels, and impact funds looking for an impact-driven market-competitive financial return.
  2. Social impact startups and social enterprises that are looking to further their impact.

The organization was started in February 2019 and has already helped dozens of start-ups. Some companies featured by Shaper Impact Capital have raised capital from the likes of Y Combinator and Kleiner Perkins. Shaper Impact Capital supports an emerging trend within venture capital to fund companies in the impact, sustainability and climate-tech spaces.

To learn more about Shaper Impact Capital, we interviewed Chia Jeng Yang. Chia is a Global Shaper based out of the Singapore Hub. Chia has spent his career in early stage VC, both as an operator (BookQuickly) and as an investor (Rocket Internet, Antler, Saison Capital, angel).

During our discussion, Chia shared how Shaper Impact Capital grew from a conversation started at a Global Shaper Conference in Bangkok. As experienced venture capitalists, the group of Global Shapers brainstormed how they could leverage their existing skill set and networks to create a wider society impact. They decided by supporting startups with a large impact on the ground on reaching further capital, it would both utilize their skills in venture as well as helping companies receive additional resources to scale their impact. As a group with a strong interest in sustainable investing, it felt like the perfect fit.

Chia emphasized:

“If you are creating something amazing that has an impact on the ground, it’s also a good opportunity for financial return.”

Today, Shaper Impact Capital has grown to become a grassroots movement of young Global Shapers and impact-focused community members from around the world. The distributed team consists of over 50 motivated young people across Europe, India, Southeast Asia, South America and more.

What is the Global Shaper community?

Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of inspiring young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional and global challenges. With more than 7,000 members, the Global Shapers Community spans 369 city-based hubs in 171 countries.

In each city, teams of Shapers self-organize to create projects that address the needs of their community. Projects are wide-ranging – from responding to disasters and combating poverty, to fighting climate change and building inclusive communities.

Shaper Impact Capital was a project born out of the Singapore Hub. Other participating hubs include Manila, Mumbai, Cordoba, Beijing and Mexico City.

Who makes up the Shaper Impact Capital team?

Shaper Impact Capital is run by a globally distributed team, many who have previously worked in venture capital or launched their own companies. Thanks to Chia’s previous experience running communities built on efforts of part time people, he knows how to manage a distributed volunteer workforce. On top of this, Chia emphasized that as many team members have previously started their own businesses, they collectively value creating clean processes which lead to a focused effort.

In addition, by maintaining a high-bar for new team members, in less than one year the team has quickly grown in strength and ability to support founders.

How does Shaper Impact Capital choose which start-ups to feature?

The team aims to showcase a range of start-ups across impact vertices and stages of growth, however, investors in their database are slightly weighted towards Series A and below. Shaper Impact Capital is able to source start-ups thanks to their globally distributed team and Shaper Investors in Venture Capital providing a wide range of inbound companies to look at.  

What are Shaper Impact Capital’s plans for the future?

Shaper Impact Capital aims to become the largest grassroots project connecting impact start-ups to capital. On top of this, they hope to build additional capacity to support startups who make an impact with the resources they need.

The organization has begun trialing a VC Analyst program and aims to expand that program across other geographies soon. They are also in the process of developing a mentorship program to connect start-ups with mentors and advisors. On top of this, the team is at the early stage of creating resources for impact start-ups where venture capital is not the right type of capital for them.

With less than 12 months of operation, it will be exciting to watch Shaper Impact Capital expand some of these projects next year.

How can someone get involved with Shaper Impact Capital?

If you would like to get involved, you can apply for one of the open positions on their website. Chia emphasized that they aim to get back to everyone.

Currently, they are looking for people who have a marketing background and want to help promote their work. In addition, the team is looking to partner with VCs, incubators and accelerators interested in providing support to impact focused start-ups.

What are some examples of start-ups that have been featured in the newsletter?

Below are three examples of start-ups that have been featured in a Shaper Impact Capital newsletter. If you are an investment professional who would like to receive a future issue, subscribe here.

BeamAndGo

BeamAndGo is a payment and digital marketplace that empowers unbanked and underbanked Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) by giving them a choice on how their remitted money is used. BeamAndGo partners with Filipino merchants and payment channels, and is looking to branch into financing and wallets.

BeamAndGo currently has over hundreds of thousands of registered users and a network of supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and convenience stores throughout the Philippines. In addition, they offer mobile load, bill payments, and door-to-door grocery packages. The company has been mentioned by CNN, Forbes, Bloomberg, and has been awarded the Singularity U Global Impact Challenge Special Award 2018, the APEC O2O Summit winner, and the Dsion Global Startup Challenge Grand Prize winner.

Geography: Hong Kong, Philippines

Website: https://www.beamandgo.com/

TreeDots

TreeDots is Asia's first wholesale distributor of surplus and imperfect food supplies in Southeast Asia. Our mission is to tackle the colossal issue of food loss (edible food that is discarded) by leveraging on technology to better match supply and demand, and streamline transactions. We are the industry's food maven to help our suppliers recover cost from perfectly edible, imperfect and unsold inventory, and to assist food service providers in sourcing for affordable food supplies, while fulfilling our mission to save our dear planet.

Geography: Singapore/Malaysia/SEA

Website: https://www.thetreedots.com/

World Tech

World Tech is shaping how the world learns. After pioneering on-site coding bootcamps in Latin America, World Tech is personalizing 21st century skills development with bootcamps.online, an adaptive learning marketplace.

Since its beginning, World Tech has trained over 1,200 students with on-site bootcamps, counts +250 hiring allies in IT and has been recognized by organizations like MassChallenge Boston (winners 2015), the World Bank (decodingbootcamps.org - selected bootcamp provider - 2016), Draper VC (pre-seed round 2015), the InterAmerican Development Bank (Most Creative Startup in LATAM 2016), MIT Technology Review (founding team MIT Innovators Under 35 - 2016), iNNpulsa Colombia, the government of Israel (Tel Aviv DLD Innovation Selected Startup), Paris Co (2018), ICEX España (Rising Startup 2018).

Geography: Columbia

Website: https://www.worldtechmakers.com/