MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is now seeking a Senior Associate, Capital Advisory Services! From persistent poverty to climate change, we face entrenched social and environmental problems. Fortunately, a growing number of charities, non-profits, co-ops and for-profit companies are building business models to tackle these problems. They are turning to investors for the financing to […]Read More ›
SVX: From Launch to Getting Deals Done
Six months after launch, Adam Spence of SVX checks in with lessons learned & what’s next for North America’s first social venture connection platform
Twelve ventures opened the market at the Toronto Stock Exchange with the official launch of SVX (Social Venture Connexion) six months ago. It was a good day. We reflected on our collective achievement and showcased the first cohort of ventures and funds. We had been working a long time to pull everything together. But it was really just day one.
We had to quickly get down to the brass tacks of operating an impact investing enterprise. It is the painstaking day-to-day work done by so many in the field that receives no headlines or fanfare: pitch preparation, prospect meetings, reviews, webinars, in-person events, one-on-one investor meetings, partnership development, and more.
Market Traction with First Investments
Our work has begun to bear some fruit. SVX issuers including Investeco, and Community Forward Fund (CFF) have raised $650,000 through investments and commitments since our launch in September.
These deals should just be the beginning. There are more issuers in due diligence with investors and decisions are expected in the near future. Our investor base has grown as we have focused our resources on outreach and stewardship. We also hope ImpactOntario will generate additional activity as a signature conference focused on connecting impact investors and ventures.
Although we have established some early market traction with these first investments, we have also learned a number of lessons over the past six months:
- Planning and operating are different. Preparing a business plan, writing terms of operation, or designing the mechanics of a website is vastly different from operating an enterprise, implementing terms, and managing a private, password protected portal. It isn’t like building a house or organizing an event. It’s like fashion. It’s never finished. We have made numerous adaptations to the model in line our resources and market rules/norms to pursue our mission and objectives.
- Investing takes time. Launching the SVX was not like opening a major stock market; we did not press a button to open the platform then watch as thousands of transactions crossed the digital market threshold between eager buyers and sellers. Indeed, investors and issuers are eager, but the investment process takes time. Although the process has been made more efficient, there is still a need to work through investment committees, additional due diligence, and relationship building between investors and ventures.
- We are in the relationship business. We sink or swim based on the relationships we build. Any success we have achieved is due to the relationships we have built with our partners, regulators, and the investors and ventures we serve, as well as between these same investors and ventures. The relationship building process is particularly important when it comes to bringing investors on to the platform. As this is a relatively new and novel field, there is a significant amount of stewardship and time required to bring them fully on board. But the up-front investment is well worth the returns.
There are a number of important milestones for us in the months ahead:
- New issuers: We’ll be launching a new cohort of issuers at Impact Ontario, with five new ventures and funds on the roster. There will also be a summer cohort announced in late May 2014.
- Expansion: We have formally begun exploring expansion in Quebec. We are also looking at expansion across Canada and beyond. More news on this to come!
Visit us online for information about SVX, including how you can access the platform as an impact venture, fund, investor, or service provider.
Editor’s Note: This is not a solicitation of funds for investment. SVX does not endorse any ventures or funds listed on the platform, and investment opportunities are only available to qualified, accredited investors.