From the Desk of Bob Bridge
Our network thinks about impact in two ways.
Supporting Impact Companies
An important impact goal for our network is funding companies that are working to address serious societal challenges, such as improving education or healthcare outcomes or protecting the environment, or empowering or improving the lives of disadvantaged people.
We look for companies whose primary business mission is clearly focused on having an impact, and where the impact is not a secondary result or a sideline.
We ask the companies for as much evidence as possible that their product or service offerings actually do have a measurable impact and goes beyond “isn’t that a nice idea”.
Supporting Under-represented Founders
It is natural for me, and all of us, to feel most comfortable around others who are most like ourselves and to feel at home in an environment similar to the environment in which we were raised.
As a result, when those with wealth and power, the overclass, all belong to one demographic group, wealth and power tend to get easily shared with others in that group. Such sharing is a natural result and does not necessarily reflect a deliberate strategy to be exclusive or limiting.
Those who possess wealth and power may not have experienced the day-to-day and life-long challenges faced by the underclass, and it easy for the overclass to assume that the same rules that allowed the overclass to be successful in life will allow anyone to achieve similar success. That is not how it normally works for the underclass.
Our network believes that all individuals should have the support needed to reach their full potential. We recognize that glass ceilings exit, and sometimes even concrete ceilings exist and that all entrepreneurs need to be treated with respect and provided encouragement. We welcome under-represented founders into a thoughtful and constructive discussion about their business.
By diversity, we think of those who have historically been disadvantaged in terms of receiving funding, possibly because they are women or people of color. We strive to support startup teams with under-represented C-level founders.
Diversity is neither required nor sufficient to receive funding from us. That said, half of our funding to date has been to teams with an under-represented C-level founder.
And we think about supporting diversity more broadly than just funding companies. For example, we mentor Title 1 high school students in entrepreneurship by partnering with the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Superstar program, and we provide a college scholarship to a student in that annual program.