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If you haven’t heard of Impact Engine yet, you are behind on the times. The Chicago-based accelerator program supports for-profit startups that are dedicated to positively impacting our world.

The 16-week program gives those who qualify $20,000 of upfront funding (in exchange for 7% equity), access to a powerful network of socially conscious entrepreneurs, investors and business mentors. Impact Engine also gives participating startups business workshops, a collaborative workspace, pro-bono legal advice and an “Investor Day:” an opportunity to pitch your startup to over 300 very interested, and very well connected, angel and venture investors.

With applications opening up on May 15, we wanted to give you a roundup of the experiences previous participants had with this impactful accelerator.

 

Raise5 is a platform that makes giving to charity easy. Freelance fundraisers list services they can perform, such as sharing your company’s website with their Twitter followers or making you customized earrings, and instead of paying them you give money to the charity of their choice.

Impact Engine has helped us on many fronts. Aside from the financial help and the great office space, I think they've done a lot for Raise5 by connecting us to great mentors/entrepreneurs/investors. A lot of our momentum right now is as a result of having the right network to help us with our business model and funding needs. Aside from the connections, Impact Engine setup a lot of seminars where great speakers helped us get familiarized with the many aspects of building a good business. These seminars covered a diverse range of topics such as legal considerations, best accounting practices, SEO optimization, financial modeling techniques, and more. Aside from the 'curriculum' if you will, the Impact Engine staff are just superbly helpful, intelligent and genuinely kind-hearted people, which means a lot to us as we go through this bumpy journey.” Shayan Nahrvar, Chief Development Officer

 

 

Pangea refers to itself as the “future of money transfer.” Pangea is a software company that has created a way for consumers to send money to anyone from anywhere at any time using the web, mobile and retail. How is it socially conscious? They charge a 5% flat fee for every single exchange, despite the amount of money and regardless of where in the world it’s going.

Impact Engine had a profound impact on the development of our business.  Aside from providing us unprecedented access to major thought leaders across the payments industry, Impact Engine also provided guidance on operations, capital raising strategies, marketing and human capital (particularly finding talent). Our determination and domain knowledge combined with Impact Engine's insight allowed us to marshal support from our industry, secure key strategic partners and bring on-board world class advisers.” Rahier Rahman, Founder and CEO

 

 

PortaPure distributes transportable containers with built-in water filtration systems to third-world countries. Regardless of how filthy the water is, the systems remove 99.99% of sediment, bacteria and viruses, including Cholera, Typhoid, Amoebic Dysentery, E. Coli, Coliform Bacteria, Cryptosporidium, Streptococcus, Salmonella and Giardia. Filters need to be replaced every 500 gallons.

Impact Engine provided 12 weeks of intense course work, mentors, advisors, and resources to improve key aspects of the Portapure business. We received training in user-centered design research, product development, business modeling, brand building and financial modeling. Impact Engine's network of advisors allowed Portapure to focus on creating a value proposition key to the current traction in Haiti-our target market. With help from the Impact Engine, we've improved our team, business, product, proposition, customer traction, and have solidified investment into our company.” George Page, Founder and CEO

 

ThinkCERCA is a web-based platform that gives teachers the tools and content they need to create and deliver personalized critical thinking instruction for all students. Teachers can coordinate and strategize across disciplines to meet individual student needs and enhances peer-to-peer collaborative learning engagement.

“The Impact Engine helped me define so many aspects of my company. As an entrepreneur, you feel pretty alone in the world, since so much of your vision is in your head at the beginning, and so little is tangible to others. In working with the team of advisors and mentors at Impact Engine, I learned how to take that vision and turn it into a tangible business model that investors could value. I also learned how to believe in my own instincts but listen carefully to the wisdom others shared. The balance between those two things can be really tough at the beginning because inventing something is scary, and advice from smart people is comforting, yet in the end as Chuck Templeton reminds us, these are our companies. We have to figure it out and act. The support at Impact Engine just makes us smarter about making these decisions and helps us solve problems in better ways.” Eileen Murphy Buckley, Founder and CEO

 


Collaborative Group connects retail brands with artisans in developing countries.
Their goal is to create collaborations that provide sustainable livelihoods to underserved populations and unique, socially impactful products major global brands such as Birchbox and Madewell.

Impact Engine has fast forwarded my business light years ahead of where it would be without it. My ability to communicate my value proposition, our plan to scale the business, and our social impact has improved 100% from where I began. Impact Engine has given me the support and help I needed to take an idea that was working and scale it. I know that my impact will infinitely greater because of the encouragement and real help I have gotten from the Impact Engine team.” Kathleen Wright, Founder and CEO

All these rave reviews only leave one question in our minds: what startup will be next to make an impact?

 

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