How do we best support and accelerate emerging social innovation? We ask this question every day at IC and are especially attuned to it as we approach our 25th year and develop our 2020 Strategic Plan.

There is one thing that I know for certain: it is about so much more than the pitch and the money! Relationships are critical to social enterprise acceleration. Trusting relationships with customers and the community, employees, and investors make the difference. These relationships help the entrepreneur ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the product or service, refine the business model, and access customers and other resources required to grow the company’s impact.

Early-stage impact investing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Over the past five years, through “Beyond the Pitch” events, local network cultivation, and entrepreneur support programs, IC has gleaned even more insights on relationship building between and among entrepreneurs, investors, and the support community. Through our work, we have also gained a better understanding of the different capital requirements associated with varying business models. We have identified the need to develop more tools that facilitate a collaborative approach that understands the primacy of relationships and acknowledges the different types of capital necessary for impact enterprise growth. So what are the key elements of collaborative capital?

Appropriate financial capital

The wrong money can be as bad or worse than no money at all. From grants to innovative investment structuring, better collaboration among capital providers and early-stage entrepreneurs helps to ensure that a company secures financial capital appropriate to its stage and growth trajectory.

Human capital from the start

As I discussed in Too much of a good thing?, we must move away from the faulty notion of the “heropreneur” and stress the importance of the employee team in the impact equation. Companies, particularly those committed to impact, need to focus on developing their human capital from the start. Our 25-year history has taught us that investment in company values, good jobs, and aligned incentives delivers financial and social returns in the long-term.

Social capital that makes a difference

Accelerators and entrepreneur communities abound, but support must be deeper than how to develop a slick pitch. Business model refinement, customer acquisition, and valuable connections are necessary to maximize the company’s success and impact. When capital providers bring more than money to the table, impact wins.

As we seek to meet these needs, Investors’ Circle is excited to announce a significant gift that will pave the way for more collaborative capital tools that serve our investors and entrepreneurs… I’d love for you to join us at our next national Beyond the Pitch event in San Francisco to participate in this collaborative capitalism and celebrate the announcement in person!