An accelerator that backed for-profit, for-good ventures, Impact Engine, is abandoning the bootcamp approach and shifting its focus to investing in these startups as a seed fund, according to CEO and Partner Jessica Droste Yagan.
Based in Chicago’s 1871 startup hub, Impact Engine also closed a $10 million fund to support this pivot. The fund is its fourth, but now Impact Engine will operate without the accelerator model.
The firm will invest $25,000 to $250,000 into startups that tie their financial performance to social and environmental impact, rather than treating do-good initiatives as a standalone, philanthropic arm or side project. The companies can be based in North America, and involved in almost any industry, Yagan said.
For example, an educational tech company in Impact Engine’s portfolio, ThinkCERCA, has a goal of improving the reading and writing skills of students from elementary school through high school. If the company really improves literacy, Yagan explained, it tends to sell its content and software to more schools.