The beginning of 2019 has been kind of a roller-coaster for the impak team. Our team has faced many disappointments as well as exciting news these past few months. We wept, we laughed, we had hope, then doubt. Today we want to share our failures, disenchantments, challenges as well as our successes and some of our strategic pivots. A real exercise in transparency.
But first, let us remind you:
The ecosystem we've imagined from day one is something that had never been done before. Our project is very ambitious in the sense that we want to create change at scale by using money as a force for good, for the benefit of humans and the planet. This will be made possible thanks to a vibrant ecosystem made of thousands of people acting together to create a positive impact. The further we get, the more our team realizes the extent of the idea. And it has certainly taught us a bit of modesty.
To give birth to the impak ecosystem, we must not only build an active community of hundreds of thousands of citizens, but we also need to gather thousands of impact businesses on our platform, and attract enough investors and clients who believe in our project to help us fund it and bring it to life (wait, what cIients now? l'll come back to that in a sec).
To make it all easier, we made the promise to keep this ecosystem free for citizens and impact businesses, no matter what.
By the way: to put things back in perspective, let’s remember that most of the traditional B2C marketplaces you use (Business To Consumers), like Uber for instance, have needed hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to see the light of day (and Uber is still not a profitable company to this day).
Imagine then, the challenge in terms of time and money needed to build a marketplace that’s viable and that’s composed of not two, but three actors (citizens, impact businesses and investors).
Our number one challenge ? Cash ( yep, not so special after all). You know the song: no clients or investors, no money. No money, no mobile app, no ecosystem, no impact. But I’ll come back to that.
The mobile app, the tip of the iceberg.
Long-awaited by our community, it was one of our biggest promises in 2018. However, we’re struggling to release it. Why?
Here’s what you need to understand.
Huge players like Google hire everybody worth hiring in the fintech world (namely developers) and since we’re unable to compete with them (for now), and in a general context where the labour shortage has never been so high, the challenge of releasing an efficient, disruptive and really impactful app relies on this simple task: recruitment. Recruiting techies is taking us lots and lots of time. And as you know, time is money. Additionally, it’s been quite complex to make a name for ourselves among the impact businesses in Quebec these last few months and to convince them to join the impak platform. To be honest, we had not anticipated the challenge this would represent.
More than 800 businesses have now qualified on impak. It sounds like a lot but the truth is, it’s not enough to offer a satisfying responsible consumption experience that will be disruptive and convincing for both citizens and impact businesses. And without a massive number of businesses qualified on impak (according to our criteria), our app will seriously be facing the risk of not meeting the success we need when we’ll be launching it.
To summarize: add recruitment challenges to efforts to gather businesses and the search for new investors and you’ve got yourself a perfect cocktail for delays in app development.
That being said, there’s a part of this equation that ultimately seemed obvious: without investors, no recruitment, and without recruitment.. well, you get it. Facing those obstacles and time quickly flying by, we had to focus our team efforts on financing campaigns, coming from both investors and clients.
So what do we mean by ‘’clients’’?
To make sure we have qualified impact companies on our platform we use our impact qualification and tracking tool. Free for every business joining impak, there is a paid version of the tool for large buyers or investment funds who wish to track the impact of the businesses they are working with. Our impact qualification and tracking tool is at the heart of our project and our expertise.
Completed in 2018 and built from scratch by our team of impact experts, with Velina as their leader, our analysis tool has already enabled us to analyse more than 1 200 businesses and qualify 800 of them on the impak platform. This has never been seen before.
Why? Because we are almost the first in the world to have created a semi-automated analysis tool tracking and measuring both business’ positive and negative socio-environmental impact.
Wait, that didn’t exist before? I know, we were surprised too.
By combining several internationally recognised methodologies, like the Impact Management Project, and based on the U.N’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in a few months, we have built our own qualification tool that is reliable, rigorous and truly unique. And this tool has already attracted many financial actors’ attention.
If you wish to learn more about or Impact Investing & Scoring Solution, this other blog post is for you.
Whose attention, and for what ?
Large investment funds and asset managers who seek new innovative ways to analyse and more precisely track the positive impact of their portfolios of companies.
A few months ago, when we realized the potential of the tool we had created, big opportunities appeared. Opportunities for financing. Yep, by selling our tool to responsible finance actors, we’ve not only been able to create a major new income stream but we've also attracted more impak businesses on our platform. Plus, and this is the beauty of it, we’ve started to level-up the investors’ requirements towards the positive impact of the businesses they invest in.
While allowing us to fund the whole impak ecosystem’s construction, selling our impact analysis tool has already created a significant impact within the financial world, which has always been our overall goal.
This part of the impak equation is an absolute milestone. It’s currently our biggest challenge. If you wish to know more about our activities with investment funds and asset managers, we tell you much more here.
The impak adventure has been a pioneer project, from day one.
At the end of 2018, we touched the bottom of the ‘’valley of death.’’ Today, 3 months later, thanks to these new funding opportunities, we are a few meters away from the top of the valley. When we reach the top we’ll finally be able to release the impak app, to get the impak Coin’s release ready, and to keep building the rest of our ecosystem.
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