Every day, Sarah Cone, the impressive and down-to-earth founder of Social Impact Capital, receives emails from passionate entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas that will make the world better. The next challenge is to predict which ones will scale and give her investment partners a return that can match or exceed more conventional ventures.
Covering compassionate leadership gives me rare access to business visionaries, like Sarah, and I realized that being part of these interviews could be a great learning opportunity for our high school and college interns. I invited my nephew, Aidan Donnellan, to join us, and Sarah was happy to have him because she often has her young daughter on her lap during business meetings. As he heads to college in the fall, I hope he remembers Sarah’s wisdom, “you don’t need to compromise between making a good living and making a difference in the world.”
She never imagined that she would have a career in finance. She was committed to making the world a better place and studied interdisciplinary studies at Evergreen University and later received her law degree from UC Berkeley. After college, she went down the non-profit track but also developed a love for investing.
She started investing in stocks at a young age and had an “aha” moment 15 years ago when she realized that she could practice a much more meaningful approach to investing that blended making a difference with making a profit. She has been backing entrepreneurs who are building companies driven by social good ever since, eventually opening her own shop that she runs today from NYC with her virtual team.
Sarah’s firm is funding big ideas that make an even more significant impact. I was impressed with her unique approach that is paving the way for entrepreneurs to make real social change. While things feel uncertain and maybe even a little scary, impact investing is proving to be a good bet for Social Impact Capital that focuses on early-stage social capital investments. Many of her investments are performing well during this unprecedented time.
For example, she funded Judy that provides emergency kits for disasters and offers a community where users can ask questions and seek support. Before the pandemic hit us, sixty percent of Americans reported not being prepared for emergencies. Judy has seen considerable growth over the last few months. And Judy customers that bought kits before the pandemic were stocked with PPE before it was necessary.
Social Impact Capital has also invested in MilkRun, which uses AI to optimize delivery routes and creates a digital farmers market. In doing so, they’ve created greater accessibility to fresh produce while also allowing the farmers to make better money and allowing consumers to return to a more localized, communal way of living.
Surprisingly, Sarah and her small but mighty team do not spend a lot of time listening to pitches or meeting with entrepreneurs. Instead, they focus on a copious due diligence process to determine which businesses to fund. Her team spends about 100 hours of research for each deal, and she reads an astounding five to six hours per day. She points out that her law degree prepared her for this dedication to research and study. The company is consistently making sure all bases are covered, thinking about what can go wrong, ways to help, and analyzing impact metrics.
Social Impact Capital has a global network behind them, ensuring that the work they do remains profitable, relevant, and of the highest caliber of impact. This network includes an extensive advisory board and venture partners with expert leaders in industries like pharma, healthcare, and AI. Their approach will continually evolve as the world changes every second, as we have witnessed over the last few months.
Impact investors and the dedicated entrepreneurs who fill their inboxes deserve our attention and offer hope for our future. If you want to learn more or support social capital, visit the Social Venture Circle and SOCAP.