The first thing coaches and mentors tell you is that investors need to be able to trust you, even more than the business model or the product. Sometimes investors don't even really understand the product or service. They want to know if you can handle the work of scaling, if you can handle the politics of management, and if you can handle money.
Then I happened upon an episode of Shark Tank, and they said the exact opposite to Sofi of Expedition Subsahara.
In her pitch, Sofi emphasized founder qualities (her work ethic and track record), and the vision to empower women in Senegal, to preserve and promote its culture and traditions. Profit is obviously important but it's secondary to building out the vision so that thousands of other people can profit too.
Sharks follow blood: easy money and fast kills. They even told Sofi they trusted her but, yeah, no. If they really trusted and believed in Sofi, they would have partnered with her on fulfilling the vision. But the vision for Sofi isn't just profit; hers is a post-capitalist business. She rides the new wave of capitalism.
When I saw Sofi on Shark Tank, all sorts of things went through my mind: guerrilla entrepreneurism, capitalist wealth redistribution, and intersectionality. Hers is exactly the kind of business I will invest in when my fund is up and running. A visionary like Sofi doesn't need sharks, doesn't want sharks, because they could too easily kill the heart and soul of a mission-driven enterprise by a too-strict ascription to a policy of profit before people.
Businesses like Expedition Subsahara epitomize Humanity 2.0. The Shark Tank crew represents an older operating system. It's not so old that new programs won't run on it, but before too long it will be as relevant as a Blackberry.
The old financing system is alive, but so few people actually like it or trust it, it’s only a matter of time before we shift our capital into a new system. Crypto may be offering a transitional phase. Crowdfunding and microlending are also helping divert capital from legacy systems.
There have always been benefactors and philanthropists, investors who played huge roles in rags to riches stories. The difference now is that an increasing percentage of the 1%ers happen to be socially and environmentally conscious to the bone, progressive in their views, visionary and even futurist in their perspectives on humanity. Many of them do psychedelics, drive Teslas, and go to Burning Man. Lots of them forego the trajectory of hoarding art and cars in their third home in the South of France. The younger you are, the less likely you are to validate legacy systems. You demand ethical behavior from yourself, from your business associates, from your employers, from the brands you engage with.
That's not to say there's still going to be douchebags around. What we really need is to change human nature, rewrite our genetic code so that we stop behaving like idiots. Sadly, firmware upgrades will take some time to emerge...a retrovirus spawned the evolution of placenta and gave rise to the family of animals known as mammals. It just took a while for it to happen.
While we wait to be resurrected en silico, let’s consider how far we’ve come.
More and more investors make decisions not on short-term margins and profits but on long range outcomes. Does a business serve a public benefit or does it add clutter? Does a business do more than just make its founder and associates rich? What kinds of ethical principles are built into the foundation of the business, and not just tacked on for marketing?
Don’t let the sharks deter you from seeking money if you are a struggling founder. There are a lot of new wave investors. You could choose to only pitch to those. At the end of this article, you'll find a sample list of some socially conscious or futurist investors.
Or, like Sofi, you can milk the opportunity for exposure by pitching to mainstream VCs who have a media presence. If you do pitch to old guard VCs, at least get your name out there by targeting ones that have podcasts or rooms in Clubhouse.
I'll bet most founders want to spend as little time as possible pitching and more time building their business. Therefore, I would recommend using your time more wisely by pitching straight away to investors that have the heart and soul of the new humanity. To help you fulfill your funding needs, I give you a curated list of socially conscious investors, funds, and VCs. Each of these has in their portfolio or welcomes psychedelic-array businesses.
From one founder to another, good luck and never give up. This is how you win.
Conscious Society is not a VC but funds innovative projects
Delphi centers on sustainability; website not yet up
Energia invests in system changers in healthcare including psychedelics
Fetzer funds prosocial and faith-based projects
Future Ventures includes several psychedelics firms in their portfolio of future-focused investments
Heffter awards grants to fund psychedelic research
Integrated has a strong portfolio including Beckley Psytech
Mission Club is Raad Seraj’s fund, focusing on psychedelics, tech, and art
Obvious funds innovators and disruptors; for example, they funded Beyond Meat. Their three main categories include healthy living, sustainable systems, and people power
RiverStyx Foundation offers grants to unique initiatives and nonprofits including indigenous
Transformative Capital provides strategic planning and guidance for regenerative and ethical businesses
Vine Ventures is a promising VC that donates back 50% of their profits into the psychedelics with the Vine Reciprocity Trust
Don’t you worry, visionary! There are lots of socially conscious investors, way cooler thank the sharks and most likely lots more fun at parties.