Better Ventures is a venture fund for technology startups building innovative solutions to big and important problems, from work and education to health and sustainability. Wes and Rick are currently pursuing opportunities in three investment themes:
Better Access - Companies leveraging technology to democratize access to essential services that equalize opportunity, including education and employment;
Better Information - Companies utilizing data analytics to produce positive societal outcomes, ranging from health & well-being to environmental sustainability;
Better Business - Companies building sustainable and ethical supply chains, including product re-use & up-cycling and sustainable production.
I met Wes when I first got involved with the HUB in 2010. I wanted to support his efforts and his fund of innovative tech startups. Equity. [Health] [Underserved Communities] [Education] [Sustainability]
CEC is developing innovative financing tools and entity structuring that help preserve mission and goals for new companies raising money. Nia's investment supports CEC to develop software that will bring down the cost and streamline the process of direct public offerings for small and medium sized businesses, allowing them to grow with mission intact.
I love Jenny and her women led team at CEC. I love that they are right here in Oakland, working with our local businesses to build and expand this space of conscious investing by developing the software and legal infrastructure needed to raise smaller increments of capital from a broader range of investors. Debt. [Financial Infrastructure]
The Ecosystem Integrity Fund is a venture fund focused on generating significant financial returns by investing in companies that enable greater environmental sustainability. The EIF team seeks to achieve this goal by identifying real businesses in mostly overlooked industry segments—businesses that have effective, in-demand, and scalable solutions—by providing these businesses with the capital, strategic perspective, and hands-on management they need to succeed.
I met Devin, co-founder of the fund, and found him to be full of integrity. I then looked at the companies chosen and was impressed with their choices, decision-making process, and spectrum of solution oriented thinking and products. Shortly after I invested, they launched their second fund, and I have invested in that as well. Equity. [Sustainability] [Organic Food]
Ethical Electric is an energy company that does good. They provide choice to power users, powering as many American homes and businesses as possible with 100% clean energy from renewable sources like wind and solar. Their plan is to use profits to fund causes that benefit our planet and advance equality, peace, justice and opportunity.
I know and respect the founding team. I like that these guys are thinking innovatively to bring clean energy options to the market, with the "Credo/Working Assets" values of transparency and community activism. Once we all experience choice in utility providers, I believe the dial will move. Equity and Debt. [Environmental Sustainability]
Ecotrust Forest Management is a forestland investment management and advisory services company that manages land on behalf of investors and forestland owners to enhance forest health and productivity, and to produce a diverse array of forest products and services including timber, biomass, carbon, and improved habitat and water quality. Ecotrust Forests seeks to capture a wide array of funding sources — New Market Tax Credits, carbon credits, conservation easements, and restoration funding — to supplement private capital resources in the acquisition and management of forestland, while also creating reliable jobs for local residents and opportunities for local communities as a fundamental element of good forestry.
Managing our land well and sustainably is one of our biggest challenges as a society. I feel privileged to partner with EcoTrust in their clever multi-funding source approach to serving their mission of sustainability. Equity and Debt. [Environmental Sustainability]
Farmland LP is a private REIT, acquiring conventional farmland and converting it to certified organic farmland by using sustainable agriculture best practices. The regenerative land management techniques result in optimal soil and plant health obtained without using chemical inputs (fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc.), increasing the productivity of the land while keeping operational costs low for farmers. Its innovative business model allows Farmland LP to fulfill its mission of delivering solid returns to investors while helping build a sustainable, healthy, local food system for the future.
As a 5th generation Californian from a ranching family, I believe in sustainable farming practices. I was happy to find an investment where for profit dollars would be used to convert farmland using sustainable practices. Equity. [Organic Food] [Environmental Sustainability]
Green Alpha Advisors is an asset management firm, founded on the belief that in order to live and thrive on our planet, we must make an inevitable economic and technological transition to sustainability. Their investment strategies address core economic concerns emerging from the risks associated with resource scarcity and the worst effects of climate change. They see innovations that simultaneously address these core systemic risks and improve economic productivity as the greatest growth drivers of the 21st century. Nia is currently investing in these four products: Shelton Green Alpha Mutual Fund: A public equity mutual fund with the objective to achieve long-term capital appreciation by investing in the Next Economy; Green Alpha Next Economy Index: An all-cap, global growth index portfolio designed to define all aspects of the Next Economy; green, selfsustaining, eco-efficient, and fossil fuel free; Sierra Club Green Alpha Managed Account: An active, long-equity strategy in compliance with the Sierra Club’s strict social and environmental criteria and GAAs Next Economy methodology; and the Green Alpha Growth & Income Managed Account: A sustainability-oriented, actively managed Next Economy portfolio combining moderate current income with potential for capital growth.
This small team of public equities experts is far and beyond the smartest I have seen in truly understanding the Next Economy and what types of innovative companies are going to be the ones to get us there. Public Equity. [Financial Infrastructure] [Sustainability]
HIP investor has created 4 products available through the Schwab platform. In addition to being an impact money manager, HIP is developing standards to quantify impact. Nia is currently investing in the HIP 100 Portfolio: a re-weighting of the S&P 100 for quantifiable sustainability according to proprietary HIP criteria and analysis. For investors and advisers applying the "new fundamentals of investing," the HIP 100 Portfolio can complement or replace the current U.S. based equity allocations; and the HIP Preferred Stock Portfolio: weights a basket of U.S.-listed Preferred Stocks using a rigorous, data-driven analysis of quantifiable human, social and environmental results. HIP Portfolios seek to outperform traditional investment benchmarks via this strategy, striving to achieve more positive human impact, lower risk, and increased financial returns. HIP products also include The HIP Sustainable Real Estate Portfolio and the HIP Global Dividends Portfolio.
Paul Herman and his team work diligently to make social and environmental concerns paramount to the traditional investing world. He is doing quite a lot to raise awareness, inform clients and build products that celebrate companies making sustainable and values based choices. Public and Private Equity. [Financial Infrastructure]
Liberation Capital is a Global Private Equity Fund specializing in Project Finance for small renewable energy, water and waste water projects. Their investment model centers on strategic partnerships with CleanTech technology firms and project developers with multi-project/multi-year investment horizons.
I invested in the Liberation team because I wanted to learn more about different approaches to renewable energy. I was particularly interested in a few of their projects, the recycling of tires made sense to me, as an example. Equity. [Sustainability]
Nia Global Solutions introduces the concept of Impact Investing to public markets, by bringing investors a managed portfolio of publicly traded stocks that harness the innovative social purposes of capitalism. The women led Nia team builds its portfolio of companies that create meaningful outcomes, not only for its investors, but for people and the planet too.
I was drawn to create Nia Global Solutions as a way to bring conscious investing to the public markets. At Nia we engage in a very careful due diligence process looking at solution-driven products, run by diverse management teams. We are unique in that we bring activism into the public markets by engaging with both our chosen companies as well as those who do not make our buy list for the portfolio. NGS will also donate a percentage of profits to those non-profit organizations who are working on issues of corporate accountability.
Renewal2 and Renewal3 funds are diversified social venture funds investing capital for the development of underfunded sectors that are critical to a sustainable economy. Renewal funds invests in change by supporting businesses at the forefront of social and environmental innovation, infusing both capital and operating guidance to the organic food sector.
I love both the concept of Renewal as well as the founding team and their long history of investing for social change and environmental sustainability. I am excited to be invested in both Renewal2 and Renewal3. Equity. [Organic Food] [Sustainability]
Launched in 2011, Mosaic started by using crowdfunding principles to allow everyone to invest in clean energy. In 2014, they shifted towards residential solar financing with the help of third party capital partners. Now, with their home improvement lending program for the modern home, they are constantly pushing for new and exciting ways to make the benefits of clean energy and efficiency more attainable for everyone.
SJF Ventures is a venture fund focused on the resource efficiency, sustainability and technology-enhanced services sectors. Representative investment areas include efficiency and infrastructure, asset recovery including reuse and recycling, sustainable agriculture and food safety, health and wellness technology, education technology and digital media and marketing services.
Nia is invested with SJF because they are active in job creation.
Scoot Networks create networks of scoots: shared, electric, smartphone-activated motor scooters you can ride in the city. Scoot teaches you how to ride the scoots, keeps the scoots running, and finds places to put more scoots to make the network of users bigger.
I have a passion for getting women out of their cars. While I would ideally like to see us all on electrical bicycles, Scoot is the next best thing. I also like that, in addition to being efficient, Scoot takes the hassle and expense out of city parking, lowers our overall emissions, and they are super fun to ride. Hoping they come to Oakland and a city near you soon! Equity. [Sustainability]