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Spring Activator acquires Future Capital to expand impact investing

Enlarged firm plans to support over 400 ventures, expand into United States

From left, Spring Activator co-CEOs Keith Ippel and Caroline von Hirschberg, and chief experience officer Marlon Thompson. (Courtesy Spring Activator)

Spring Activator, a Vancouver-based firm and platform for entrepreneurs and early-stage impact investment, has acquired Future Capital to expand its mission of inclusive investing to a global market.

The merged firm will operate as Spring Activator with a total of 40 employees in six Canadian provinces. Collectively, both organizations support over 2,000 Canadian entrepreneurs and have catalyzed more than $50 million in capital.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Spring Activator provides incubation, training, intermediary work and capital for impact ventures, while Future Capital supported early-stage investors from underrepresented backgrounds. Future Capital has also been based in Vancouver.

“Together, we believe we can break down some of the silos that exist within venture capital and the community ecosystem and accelerate a pathway to solutions," Marlon Thompson, a founder and the former CEO of Future Capital who is now chief experience officer at Spring Activator, said in an interview with SustainableBiz.

Climate and sustainability solutions are top of mind for values-driven investors and funders, Spring Activator co-founder and co-CEO Keith Ippel added.

About Spring Activator and Future Capital

According to Ippel, Spring Activator has supported over 2,000 ventures across Canada over the past 10 years, with more than 200 ventures going through its investor match-making program. Over $50 million in early-stage capital was raised in the last four years by his firm for Canadian startups such as Open Ocean Robotics, Moment Energy and VoxCell BioInnovation.

Future Capital built a network of over 700 investors prioritizing pre-seed and seed companies that are women-led, including BelliWelli, Curie, Sunscoop and Haloo.

A racially diversifying North America and the transfer of trillions in intergenerational wealth will require Canada “to get ahead of that demographic change and really figure out how to support the next generation of investors and how to enable them with information, financial literacy, tools to invest well and support and build an economy they want to be a part of,” Thompson said.

Underrepresented investor demographics — including Black, Indigenous and people of colour, women in technology and venture capital, and LGBTQ+ people — tend to have an interest in values-driven consumer products and consumer technologies which differ from the typical investor, he added.

Why Spring Activator acquired Future Capital

Future Capital’s awareness of the incoming intergenerational wealth transfer caught the attention of Spring Activator. Ippel, who has known Thompson for 10 years, described Future Capital as a “natural complement” to his firm as Spring Activator also advances equitable access to investment and capital.

“We saw an opportunity to bring Marlon’s message to our community and to do the reverse back into the Future Capital community as a way to more rapidly scale the size and scope of impact investing in Canada, and use it as a springboard to move into global expansion and reshape early-stage investing on a global basis,” Ippel said.

Investors tend to invest in people who resemble themselves, Ippel noted. Yet venture capital has few women involved despite the fact they comprise approximately half of our population.

Canada’s immigration numbers are changing the face of the country, and many are or will be entrepreneurs, Ippel said. If Canada does not meet the moment, fewer underrepresented entrepreneurs will be involved in the economy or they will look to other markets for funding, he warned.

“We need to give people the ability to invest and to receive investment in Canada based on equitable access,” Ippel said.

Spring Activator intends to support more than 400 new ventures and enter the U.S. market in the next two years.

Supporting climate ventures

Climate-focused solutions will remain a key priority, as will sustainable food and agriculture, health innovation and tech-enabled retail e-commerce supply chain logistics.

Ippel said Spring Activator is searching for innovation that spans not only software, but hardware. He named some of the ventures it supported to prove his point:

  • Moment Energy, which secured deals with Mercedes-Benz Energy and Nissan, repurposes electric vehicle batteries;
  • ChopValue takes used chopsticks to create furniture and home décor that captures carbon;
  • Bioform Technologies develops a compostable plastic alternative made out of kelp, wood pulp fibre and water; and
  • Save da Sea produces plant-based seafood.

Learning from a turbulent economy 

Amid an uncertain economy for investing, Ippel and Thompson said it is an opportunity to learn.

Ippel has noted investors are growing more curious about impact investing and are seeking education and a community, as they prepare for a changing economy.

Spring Activator can support others to “demystify what this new era of investing actually looks like” with better education, Thompson said.

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