Unitus Seed Fund is a Seattle-based venture capital fund that invests in impact startups, companies that have the dual goal of making a profit and benefitting people’s lives. I worked with them for 18 months in Bangalore, India, and the crux of my time there was spent working on an ebook.
One example of an impact startup is a low-cost rural preschool service that costs roughly INR200 (~US$3.50) a semester – more expensive than free but low-quality government schools, but far less expensive than even the most affordable private school. Digging deeper brought up questions like:
- What was curriculum development like – different for each localized, unique region of India? Did that make scaling the services difficult?
- How did a startup that charged so little for its services incentivize its teachers? To what extent did mission and team culture play a role in keeping employees around when salary wasn’t an incentive?
- A service that’s so integral to an individual’s life creates a dependency. What happens if an impact startup shuts shop? In these cases, is there a need for impact startups to be more sensitive about all of the usual startup tangibles – like raising money and scaling fast?
I used my research to write an ebook on the ecosystem. Read it here.