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Episode 58: Raising Capital for Co-ops with Greg Brodsky

Episode 58: Raising Capital for Co-ops with Greg Brodsky

In this Capital Insight Podcast episode, hosts Jenny and Michelle chat with Greg Brodsky, Founder and Co-Director of Start.coop, an accelerator for shared ownership companies. Greg shares his journey raising capital for co-ops and his focus on promoting socially just business funding.

Greg shares what he loves about the co-op model: “People are able to tackle really unique social problems, and do it through a cooperative solution that expands voice to people who typically don’t have a voice, and expands financial return to people who might be coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

His extensive experience in the space has helped him identify a key challenge for these businesses: struggling to raise capital. “For cooperatives, it’s a real missing gap in the ecosystem,” says Greg. “Some of the business models we see are fantastic. If they were just a regular corporation looking for investors in Silicon Valley, it might be really easy for them. But because cooperatives are not designed to IPO or to sell in five years to Google or Amazon, it’s harder to raise the capital.”

To address this challenge, Greg’s company created the Equitable Economy Fund, a small impact fund available to accelerator participants. “We may not be able to cut the biggest check, but if we can act like the lead investor and work with the entrepreneur to come up with the right term sheet, then it’s easier for them to go out to other people and say, ‘Look, now we have a structure and our first investor.’ We’re giving them a little bit of guidance and the confidence that there are people that want to invest in these models.”

His company also works to educate investors on the benefit of working with these unique businesses. He emphasizes the importance of connecting with potential investors on a personal level, ensuring they understand not just the monetary value, but the social return of their investment. Listen to the full episode below to learn more about Greg’s work.

Greg is the Founder and Co-Director of Start.coop, which is the nation’s premier accelerator for shared ownership companies. Greg brings a powerful background of financial strategy, tech, and entrepreneurship. Greg’s work has ranged from business development to strategic planning for multiple cooperatives. Prior to launching Start.coop, Greg founded and led the Bike Cooperative, a division of CCA Global Partners, and also helped to launch the nation’s only purchasing co-op for craft breweries. Greg also previously served on the board of the Cooperative Development Institute for 10 years and was board chair for 3 years. Greg also convenes the Equitable Economy Fund, an impact fund convening angel investors who are interested in shared ownership.

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 57: The First Step In Raising Capital: Clarify Your Goals and Values

Episode 57: The First Step In Raising Capital: Clarify Your Goals and Values

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, cohosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch explore the first step of raising capital on your own terms: clarifying your goals and values.

When raising capital, identifying your business values will help you target the right investors and lay out terms that make the most sense for you and your business’s mission. Jenny notes the importance of always planning for the future of your business, referring to each step as a “seed” that will help grow your business to its full potential: “You’re planting seeds all the time — everything you do in your business is planting seeds for the future.”

Knowing your goals and values from the start will help you stick to them as you grow your business. It’s the best way to keep your mission intact. Michelle states, “It’s not just the money — it’s the right money from the right investors that helps you succeed.”

Plan out the future of your business carefully to ensure you can reap positive results later, and remember that your values should always be non-negotiable when searching for funding options.

Curious to learn more? Sign up for our free email series and discover the 6 steps to finding values-aligned investors to help you achieve your goals! Sign up here!

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 56: Economic Democracy through Community Capital with Mica Fisher

Episode 56: Economic Democracy through Community Capital with Mica Fisher

What would it take to achieve economic democracy? On this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, hosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch chat with Mica Fisher, the Managing Director of the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3) about how to create a healthy economy for all.

Mica’s journey to economic democracy started with food justice activism in college. This work eventually led to her role as managing director at NC3, which works to educate, advocate, innovate and activate community capital. “We see community capital as a set of strategies that brings the power of investment back to regular people,” Mica says, “whereas right now, it’s normally just sectioned off to accredited investors or very wealthy and powerful people.”

NC3 views community capital through the lens of four principles: it is inclusive, provides wealth-building opportunities for all, empowers and serves all stakeholders, and facilitates shared prosperity. Explains Mica, community capital “provides opportunities for people of all levels of wealth and all demographics to fully participate in the economy as investors.”

Mica advises that getting involved in local cooperatives and investing circles can be a great tool for diversifying your investment options and gaining knowledge of the organizations in your community. Listen below to the full conversation.

Mica Fisher is an organizer and advocate for economic democracy living in New York City. She is the Managing Director at the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3), which aims to educate, advocate, and activate community capital, a set of tools that allows people of any economic status to invest in their own community. Prior to joining NC3’s staff, she managed NYC’s Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative, the most significant municipal investment in the country to support the development of democratic, worker-owned businesses. There, she also helped launch Owner to Owners NYC, a hotline and technical assistance network to connect existing business owners with the resources they need to sell their business to their employees.

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 55: Taking Ethical Investing Seriously with Tom Abood

Episode 55: Taking Ethical Investing Seriously with Tom Abood

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, we chat with impact investor Tom Abood about his journey with ethical investing.

Tom is a member of Angels of Main Street, a nationwide investment community run by The Kassan Group for anyone who wants to learn about direct investing in businesses that are doing work they care about. His investing journey began with penny stocks and eventually evolved into socially responsible investing when he realized the companies he was investing in through his stockbroker didn’t align with his values. Tom states, “We need to become citizens again, take responsibility, and invest locally, as well as globally, in those businesses and communities that don’t have access to capital.”

Tom says the most educational part of his investing journey was his time interacting in investor circles. His involvement in Boulder Slow Money Investment Club enabled him to gain a wealth of experience and connections in ethical investing.

He believes that all of our actions are investments and that in order to create a positive impact we must evaluate the choices we make every day and act in our daily lives to take steps toward creating a more equitable and just world. “My goal is to have a low carbon footprint but make the highest positive impact I can.” Listen to the episode to learn more insights into Tom’s investment journey.

Tom Abood practiced law in the Denver, Colorado area since graduating from the University of Denver College of Law in 1977 until retirement in December 2021. He believes that in order to address the significant Environmental, Social, and Economic Challenges of our time, we need to 1) be in the right relationship with nature; 2) be in the right relationship with money, and 3) create a well-being/regenerative economy that is embedded in nature and is in service to all life. On a continuing transformational life journey, he completely divested from Wall Street and Big Banks in 2012 and has divested from fossil fuels by installing rooftop solar, riding bicycles, using public transportation, and driving an EV when a vehicle is necessary. Tom converted his entire yard from grass into an organic, permaculture-inspired garden with edibles, native and pollinator-friendly plants, and beehives. He is a local food, energy, and community advocate and investor who believes that everything he does is an investment and that investing should not be just about increasing net worth and financial rates of return, but more importantly, should support the deeper and more profound purpose of life, improve our communities, and build a more just and equitable world.

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 54: Grassroots Fundraising with Tom Moroz

Episode 54: Grassroots Fundraising with Tom Moroz

On this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, Tom Moroz, founder and director of Stonehedge Holistic Learning Center, shares his journey with grassroots fundraising and the challenges and surprises he’s encountered along the way.

Tom is a finance professional with over 30 years of experience. Last year he helped lead an effort to transform Stonehedge Gardens, a landscaped sanctuary in Pennsylvania that aims to bring people together to heal and inspire, from a charitable nonprofit to a social enterprise by adding a public benefit corporation with revenue-generating activities. He reached out to The Kassan Group for guidance on how to raise investment funding to grow Stonehedge and help it become financially sustainable. Stonehedge is currently raising funds through investment crowdfunding.

Reflecting on the process of launching his grassroots fundraising campaign, Tom says it has been educational for both him and his team, as well as for potential investors who are unfamiliar with the concept of crowdfunding. In return, he’s been surprised by who is interested in supporting his business venture. “It’s gratifying to know that what we’re offering is a value to the community and that they really want to be a part of it both financially and in participation of what we’re doing.” Listen to the episode to learn more about Tom’s journey in crowdfunding.

Tom Moroz has been connected with the Stonehedge vision since he was a teenager and was a close friend of both of the original founders. He has an MBA-Finance and brings over 30 years of corporate finance experience from both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. He was a management consultant for Deloitte, an international accounting firm, and was the head of finance for a large hotel operation in NYC as well as the head of regional finance for the Open Society Foundations, an international human rights foundation with an annual operating budget of nearly $1 Billion.

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 53: Questioning Customary Investment Terms: The Role of Foundations

Episode 53: Questioning Customary Investment Terms: The Role of Foundations

On this episode of the Capital Insight podcast, hosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch explore foundations as funders and whether their investment term sheets align with their impact missions.

As lawyers dedicated to growing the social enterprise and marginalized entrepreneur finance ecosystem, Jenny and Michelle have repeatedly witnessed funders claiming to share a similar mission who often miss the mark when it comes to the investment deal terms. Despite their stated desire to address the ever-growing income equality gap and support underserved entrepreneurs, their model of investing is far less equitable — it favors the investor over the entrepreneur and other stakeholders.

In order to better help foundations and other mission-driven investors create the positive impact they strive for, Jenny argues that attorneys for these kinds of investors must break away from the “customary” investment term agreements. She says there is a need to help lawyers feel comfortable with more diverse models so that they don’t always resort to the traditional — and inequitable — approach.

Michelle notes that foundations must work to ensure they better understand the terms of their investments and not over-rely on attorneys and other professional advisors. “Part of this change comes from a willingness to look at things from a different lens and to appreciate the ripple effects of our decisions and where we put our money.” This, she believes, will lead to better alignment between the missions of foundations and the impacts of their investments. Listen to the full conversation below.

 

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The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com