Funding Opportunity – Seed Funds for Promising Entrepreneurial Ideas to Demonstrably Improve the Lives of Women & Girls Around the Worl
Author: Womens UN Report Network
Date: February 20, 2017
At Gray Matters Capital (GMC), we believe that the most worthwhile strategy is to invest in people and high-impact, investible ideas. GMC coLABS was created to accelerate disruptive innovation in order to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. We believe this can be achieved by taking very early stage bets on the most promising entrepreneurial ideas with the potential to demonstrably improve the lives of women and/or girls around the world.
Seed Fund Innovation
GMC coLABS exists to provide capital and support to entrepreneurs at the earliest “inkling stage” of a venture in any sector. Over the past ten years- in addition to our impact investing portfolio– we’ve been a co-creator in the earliest stages of ventures that are now impacting the lives of people all around the globe including: Village Capital, Indian School Finance Company, Gray Matters India, IDEX Fellowship, Sanabel Network and Wings Learning Centers. Now, we’re looking to apply this collaborative investment model towards our mission of empowering 100 million women and girls.
Are you a passionate, savvy, trail-brazing entrepreneur hungry to get your venture off the ground? Is supporting underserved women/girls baked into the core DNA of your business? If so, great news! We spend our days and nights searching for the next disruptive idea and the individuals who possess grit and staying power to grow and sustain an impact venture. Every 60 days, we extend an invitation to entrepreneurs to pitch our team for investment funding. Each entrepreneur is paired with a GMC team member to help them prepare for their ultimate pitch to our investment committee.
At coLABS our investment approach is built upon two beliefs:
1) Entrepreneurs innovate best when early-stage investment capital is constrained, forcing the enterprise to focus on proof of concept and market validation rather than growing overhead and big expenditures. For this reason, GMC coLABS provides investment capital between $10,000 – 100,000 USD for entrepreneurs to test and pilot their ideas in the marketplace.
2) Early-stage ventures in a pilot stage and investors are equally committed to the success of a pilot when an investment is structured on terms of revenue-sharing or equity.
We know capital alone isn’t a realistic formula for a successful social venture. In addition to investment capital, we connect entrepreneurs to seasoned advisors who can provide them with support, advice and sometimes even tough love. We provide ongoing feedback to help entrepreneurs recognize necessary pivots in their model, rapidly prototype and test their assumptions, and iterate toward success. Our support also extends to the governance in the organization and usually includes taking an advisory or board seat for up to three years.
WHAT WE FUND
We look for entrepreneurs + ideas that are…
- Providing meaningful impact to women and girls. We only fund pilots that have the potential to address critical needs of women and girls. We are sector agnostic and believe in supporting ventures in any geographies where there is a challenging need and opportunity for scaling impact for underserved women. Ask yourself, “What is the quality of life for women in my target market if my business doesn’t exist?” The more compelling your impact on their lives, the more interested we are.
- Self-sustaining. We are seeking to invest in ventures that have a profitable, self-sustaining business model and that can deliver meaningful impact to their target markets.
- Innovative and Disruptive: We prioritize ideas that create a new asset class, market or find a new way to use an old business method. We want to push boundaries.
- Investment-ready: We define investment-readiness as an entrepreneur who already has a clear blueprint for her/his business, how it will operate, understands the needs of the customer and is ready to test and refine the business model.
- Ready to pilot and rapidly prototype: We are ambitious and challenge the entrepreneurs we work with to be the same. We fund pilots that can be tested within a 12-month period. We believe in building the plane while flying, course correcting on the go, failing forward and learning by doing.
- Committed to Scaling: We look for early commitments from Founders that if a pilot proves successful, she/he will be committed to growing and scaling the enterprise and continuing to prioritize the impact of women/girls as a core part of the mission.