My Path to Social Impact Investing

From the desk of Juan Thurman:

I have always been interested in Science and Technology.  As a boy, one of my favorite authors was Isaac Asimov.  He told fantastic, page turning stories based on what science and technology could one day make possible (and some that has come to pass, even in Asimov’s life time).  Of course, the technology was super cool, but more importantly it improved humanity.  His robots did the dangerous/hard/mundane tasks humans no longer wanted to do.  Self- driving cars were just one part of the automated transportation infrastructure, solar energy check and of course space travel was available to most.

This interest has led me to a fascinating and fulfilling career.  From my first job engineering, designing and testing off- road vehicles to make sure their large tires protected sensitive environments like the permafrost; to more recently, leading a team of dedicated professionals selling communication solutions that powered the creation of apps to help depressed patients feel connected,enable municipalities to alert citizens of harmful weather events and more.    Most of my career has been in technology sales, bringing education, innovation and efficiency to businesses that needed them.  Yes, many deals were straight forward and only lead to incremental cost savings.  But, the deals that I found most interesting and motivating were those that made people’s lives better.  I can still remember talking to an entrepreneur who asked if he could use cloud communications to better schedule home health aids or another who was connecting teachers, parents and students.

Recently, like many of you through happenstance and luck, I was re-evaluating my career and goals.  So, I reached out to a number of people that I admire and respect and had some great conversations.  (I encourage you to do the same from time to time).  One of the people I spoke to was Bob Bridge, Executive Director at Southwest Angel Network (SWAN).  He told me about SWAN and the amazing social impact companies that they have funded.  He then invited me to their next pitch dinner and after listening to companies working to reduce food waste, ensure the elderly get to their medical appointments on time, and improve the quality of our drinking water, I joined as an Angel.  I have had the opportunity to learn from some great Angels, mentors and supporters as well as some amazing and interesting entrepreneurs.

So when Bob, asked if I would formally help him run and grow SWAN, I of course said yes.  There are a great number of entrepreneurs out there who not only want to start a new company, grow that company and become profitable, but also want to positively impact this world we all share.  They need our help.  That means access to capital, mentoring, guidance and support.  Bob, has started an important, vibrant and growing angel network.  I hope to help grow the network and support more entrepreneurs who want to make the world better and drive outstanding returns.