Resources created and curated to support the growth of impact investing, for those new to the field and for experienced practitioners.
An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund (TSEF) was founded in 2012, when a group of like-minded high net worth individuals and experienced investors, and Liz Luckett, a former data-analytics entrepreneur running mission-investing for one of the individual’s foundations, recognized the growing opportunity to invest in for-profit mission-oriented entrepreneurs who were building important, scalable businesses. TSEF is part of Maycomb Capital, a pioneering impact investing platform cofounded by Liz Luckett and Andrea Phillips. Maycomb provides leveraged support for emerging funds that aim to transform low income communities in the United States. Over time, Maycomb plans to report impact across asset classes to its collective pool of limited partners. The Social Entrepreneurs' Fund III (TSEF III) is an early stage impact venture capital fund which invests in early stage (series A+) inclusive fintech, healthtech, and human services tech focused on improving access and economic opportunity for low to moderate income and underserved populations.
TSEF invests in entrepreneurs who build software and data-driven platforms that aggregate large underserved markets and serve them responsibly, thus creating inordinately valuable targets for strategic exit. By focusing on building scalable, sustainable, socially-positive businesses addressing overlooked markets, we achieve top-tier competitive returns while creating greater access, opportunity, and shared prosperity.
Underserved markets are a massive opportunity but are difficult to aggregate – for large corporations, the high cost of reaching them often results in ineffective, unprofitable or predatory practices. TSEF seeks to invest in software and software-enabled services that collect and leverage “small-data” -- nuanced market insights that come through interactions with businesses reaching underserved communities. Platforms that focus on specific target populations gain a significant proprietary advantage by collecting the data needed to reduce customer acquisition costs. These companies can then lift the burden of serving the user base off of those who can least afford it. With insightful and actionable data, these platforms can create a bridge for older, established companies to responsibly serve low income communities.
The TSEF team applies its extensive background in data analytics, enterprise technology strategy, traditional finance, and human services evidence-based practice, to its focused thesis and rigorous due diligence process. We invest in companies that have demonstrated product/market fit, have strong unit economics, and clear pathways to becoming EBITDA positive, while ensuring the mission of the company is inseparable from the value proposition of the product or service. We believe that these data insights provide disproportionate upstream value to traditional enterprises, who today struggle to reach low income communities cost-effectively, and make for ideal acquirers of companies in our portfolio. Additionally, on the operating side TSEF works with tech founders to develop and operationalize enterprise sales strategies, source and vet key hires, and develop partnerships.
~70M Americans have low or no credit scores, preventing them from accessing responsible lending instruments in times of need. Additionally, 40% of Americans cannot cover an unexpected $400 expense. Coupled together, these Americans are at-risk of massive financial shock should they experience a financial crisis, such as an unexpected health problem. TSEF III has invested in Petal Card, a credit card platform that analyzes and monitors bank account cash flows to underwrite lending, as opposed to using inadequate traditional credit scoring. By understanding a person's historical cash flows in and out of their bank account, Petal can responsibly lend credit to millions more Americans who were historically excluded from the consumer credit market. Given relatively little competition in this space, Petal is able to acquire and retain customers for a fraction of the price of traditional consumer credit card comparables. Petal hopes to eventually build an entire consumer finance system aimed at the bottom 50% of Americans, responsibly serving traditional financial products to a previously underbanked community.
Liz Luckett – Managing Partner More Info
Elizabeth (Liz) Luckett has an extensive background in philanthropy, technology, analysis and market research. Before joining TSEF, Liz was Director of Impact Investing at the Pershing Square Foundation. Prior she served as Senior Vice President at Citigroup and co-founded and was Executive Vice President of Fulcrum Analytics (formerly, Cyber Dialogue). Liz began her career with the Gartner Group as director of business planning, where she worked with the CEO and executive team analyzing and implementing acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships for the company.
Lara Metcalf – Managing Director More Info
Lara Metcalf has an extensive background in capital markets, financial management, impact investing and social enterprise. Before joining the TSEF team in 2019, Lara was a Fellow at The Engine, an early-stage venture fund founded by MIT. From 2013-18 she served as the Managing Director at Social Finance where she developed more than $70M+ million in pay-for-success investments and social impact bonds. Lara was previously Chief Financial and Administrative Officer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Lara spent the first 18 years of her career on Wall Street. As a Managing Director at Credit Suisse, Lara structured complex credit transactions and advised institutional clients. Prior, she was a Vice President in the Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities Division at Goldman Sachs.
Michael Presser – Associate More Info
Michael Presser has a background in technology and management consulting. Prior to TSEF, Michael was a Consultant at Altman Vilandrie & Company, a boutique consultancy serving the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors. Michael worked with corporate technology clients on projects such as go-to-market strategy, geographic expansion opportunity, and sales channel optimization, as well as working with financial investors to diligence potential acquisitions in the technology and telecom space.
Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
TSEF invests in companies whose impact and value proposition are inextricably intertwined. We invest in business models where impact and financial success are co-linear. When performing due diligence, TSEF investment committee rejects any company that can separate its business from the company’s impact. For example, TSEF will not invest in buy one / give one (BOGO) products, as the social impact can be stripped away during sale to an acquirer. Using Petal as an earlier example, the value of the company lies in extending credit to Americans who previously did not have access to traditional credit products, and the business cannot separate its value proposition and impact.
TSEF generally invests in entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a problem that they have experienced firsthand, and unfortunately the low income American community is disproportionately minority. TSEF is proud that 2/3 of our CEOs in the first two portfolios are women or minorities, and while TSEF does not impose investing quotas or targets, we expect this trend to continue into the third fund. We actively seek out groups of entrepreneurs who historically have not had access to capital, through diverse founder convenings, values-aligned accelerators, and through our own networks and outreach. Once a company is part of our portfolio, we encourage sharing of best practices in building diverse and inclusive teams, cultures that value respect as much as performance, and follow strong governance practices.