Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
SuperCrowdHour July: The Power of a Purpose Round

SuperCrowdHour July: The Power of a Purpose Round

The Recording and Transcript of the Webinar Held July 19, 2023


Here is a very lightly edited transcript of the SuperCrowdHour for July, The Power of a Purpose Round with Parker Clay CEO Ian Bentley, DealMaker CEO Rebecca Kacaba and Renew Venture Capital’s Mark Hubbard.

Devin: I have just the most extraordinary panel discussion organized today, and I just couldn't be more excited about it. Rebecca Kasaba is the CEO of DealMaker, which is one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. I mean, Rebecca, you're just killing it. You're absolutely crushing it. We're thrilled to have you here to take a minute to be on the show. Ian Bentley is the CEO of Parker Clay, and he's working with help from Rebecca. He's in the middle of a $15 million goal of a crowdfunding campaign. We're excited to talk to him about that. He's got an incredible social mission. I just love what he's doing. And Mark Hubbard, who is the managing director of Renew Venture Capital, he's playing a vital role in putting that together. And so they've created, and they are sort of walking their talk, eating the dog food, as folks in Silicon Valley like to say, they are actually modeling the use of what they've started to call a purpose round. And I'm excited to talk to them about that because their crowdfunding campaign is really centered on fulfilling their mission.

Devin: So with that, Ian, let me invite you to just take a minute and tell us about the mission, the social purpose behind and the motivation and purpose for Parker Clay.

Ian: Thanks, Devin. Yeah, and doing it in a minute would be a little bit tricky, but I can try. I just got home, back to California, where our headquarters are here in the US. But I just got back from our factory in Ethiopia; I was there for actually about a month. A little bit longer than I'm normally there. But we so as you can imagine, we've got both an Ethiopian headquarters and a US headquarters. And it started back in 2012 when my family and I bought one-way tickets, left California, left our careers, moved to Ethiopia; and we moved there primarily to help women who had been caught in trafficking and really looking for more dignified employment opportunities. That was not that line of work. And we were doing skills training, and job training, discovered the leather industry while we were living there, and saw it as primarily being exported to the world, like Europe. And we thought we could create jobs for women. And really, that was the purpose of why we were there to create opportunities for women to thrive. And we are doing that through business. So really kind of changing the model around even aid that has been poured into the country for many, many years and shifting that to a trade model and doing business at scale. And we'll talk more about the manufacturing opportunities and all that we're doing there. But we've got a team now of about 200 people, 80% of whom are women. And we are proud of the impact and the work we get to do every day through that.

Devin: Yeah, it is just really inspiring what you're doing. And I was shocked by the story when I heard it and thrilled and really admire the work that you've been doing. You've been at this for a while now. It's been a decade or so since you, the roots of this effort, began. Is that right?

Ian: Yeah, Yeah. We officially started in 2014. That's when we set up the entity. So it's been almost ten years. I have lost all my hair and gotten a few more gray hairs, and working alongside my wife is the creative director of Parker Clay, and we've got five kids, so a very full life as well. But it's been it's an exciting time at the moment really for what we're doing because a lot of the hard work we've put into the foundation over these past few years is now really ripe to scale. So that's why we're doing what we're doing.

Devin: Yeah. Well, Rebecca, as you have, you know, worked with Ian, one of the things that I've observed from our past conversations about this, and we've had an opportunity to talk about it a few times, I think you have a real passion for this. I wonder if you tell us a little bit about how you feel about this and how you're working to DealMaker to support Parker Clay.

Rebecca: Devin, I'm happy to. Yeah, we're really excited about what Parker Clay is doing. Remember when my team first met Ian, we were so excited about the company and the mission and the way they're having such a transformative impact on Ethiopia that we were like, Okay, this is one deal we've got to get for the system. We've got to win this one. So what DealMaker does is essentially give companies the technology infrastructure they need to raise capital digitally online. And so traditionally, in my background as a capital markets attorney, I saw a lot of paperwork being exchanged in order to get capital raising done. And when the Jobs Act came out, I saw the opportunity for all of this capital raising to move online. And, you know, like Ian, it's been a short ten-year journey where we've watched the legislation transform, and we've really seen digital marketing take a huge foothold now in this industry and give entrepreneurs a way to communicate their message to all the four corners of the Internet, to people who their message might appeal to and build up a community behind them and don't want to get too into it because I know we'll continue to chat about it for the next hour, but it's something I'm really passionate about, the impact that people today want to have with their investments, especially when they see companies like Parker play, and they want to do things, you know, they see what Mark and Renew are doing. And this whole trend of impact investing is something that we're all fortunate to be a part of and get to propel forward, which really just makes the world a better place and gets better businesses funded.

Devin: Yeah. Well, Mark, I want to turn to you now for a second. We've it's my sense, and I may be wrong, forgive me if I am, but it's my sense that you played a really vital role in pulling this together for both your capital and your concept. So what I'd like to do is to invite you to talk a little bit about your role in all of this and why it is that what Ian does resonates with you.

Mark: Sure. I guess it goes back to sort of the genesis of the term purpose around for us, you know, what we were trying to accomplish. And then Ian became sort of part of the first use case for that, not the total piece, but certainly the proof case for, for why we want to do it. As Rebecca said, everything we do is impact. We have a venture studio and a venture capital firm, and it's all either social impact companies or it's women and historically excluded founders. And those don't have to be impact companies. And we want to, I mean, look, we're part of, as Rebecca mentioned, this sort of global shift and what I sort of call a movement. It's kind of a paradigm shift where more and more people want to align what they say they believe about the world with what their money does in it. Right. Or what their effort does in it. A lot of people will shift professionally in those ways. I mean, I guess I am in some ways, it's taken me 20 years, but in some ways, I'm part of that shift as well. And so, you know, we looked at the look, any time you do investing, you're a two-sided marketplace. Right. So I have investors that I invest on behalf of, and I have companies and founders that we invest in. And so the thing we saw was really twofold, both sides of that marketplace. One, that it was really frustrating that only rich people, you know, only accredited investors, could... I mean, they still, to this day, right in the fund, I can't take anybody who's not accredited. I have to see your tax statements.

Mark: So I really can't take anybody who's not accredited. And so that's frustrating, like in and of itself, just sort of from an investing standpoint that you can't invest in early-stage companies; you can't really do VC. When you couple that with the idea that this is an effort to align your values with what your money does, like, that's a justice issue that a non-accredited investor is not allowed to do. We're only going to let rich people do that. You know what? What is the what's the power that we leave on the table and in that dynamic? So that's one issue, right? Then the other was, what do we do about--and Ian will probably be okay with me saying this--there's a whole lot of companies that could be big, huge, successful companies that the founders are dynamic, that people want to support, that people align with aspirationally, that it's not just a product that they buy and that it's really something they want to be a part of themselves. But it's hard to figure out how you put those companies into a venture fund. And because they're too capital intensive, or the timeline is too long, or they're just not in vogue, or they're systemic issues, you know, as it comes down to like a lot of women and historically excluded founders. And so, how do we open pathways? How do we support these kinds of purpose-focused companies to allow them to go raise expansion capital, real, real money? Like ten, 20, $70 million. By being able to tell their story of their purpose and what they're trying to accomplish more broadly and involve a much bigger community in that discussion.

Devin: And. I want to just pause here for a moment to say a couple of things. First off, if you are here in the Zoom room with us, please, we invite you to begin thinking about thoughtful questions you have for these extraordinary individuals who are on the panel today. We're going to welcome your questions. You can use the Q&A function in Zoom to ask those questions most readily. And I also want to reiterate the invitation. If you're watching on YouTube and would like to ask a question, just hit to register and hop into the call. We'd love to have you join us here in the Zoom room, where you can ask a question. So now, continuing on the discussion, I hate to interrupt the flow, but you know,

Devin: It really is, I think, exciting to think about what this means. You know, Rebecca, you've got this technology that you're deploying, and you hinted at this already, that allows people like Ian to begin to connect with people who are not yet part of the community. That's a pretty exciting thing. Tell us about your technology.

Rebecca: Yeah. So the way we set up an offering, if you've got a brand like Parker Clay, a really nice high-value brand, you want to allow them to control the buying experience so that an investor coming in has the same high-end experience to buy shares as they would to buy a purse or some similar product from Parker Clay. And so, we allow them to set up a standalone website with an Invest Now button. And our goal is to really make it as easy for investors to buy shares online as it is to buy a pair of shoes. So get them through the securities law exemption, get their payments, their investments funded, get contracts signed, get the securities law exemptions and background checks, run all very streamlined purchasing experience at the click of a button and then allow the companies to have access to their funnel and really to treat their capital raise the same they way they would if they were digitally marketing a product so they can see who their buyers are, where their interest level stems from, and they can really then start to identify the community that is interested in their capital, raise and build a community around that profile and then reach more people. And our goal is to really expand this, to make capital raising global so that we can right now allow people to raise across North America as well as into different other regions so that they can find all the different folks that might be interested in what they're doing and really leverage the power of the Internet to its fullest capacity.

Devin: It is exciting to think about this. And Mark, you know, it's I kind of credit you again, I apologize if I'm getting this wrong, but I kind of credit you with thinking of this and identifying the possibility that purpose can be a connector that Rebecca can kind of leverage with her technology to benefit someone like Ian, an entrepreneur like Ian to attract capital. I wonder. How did you develop this idea? Because it got I got to say, the traditional view of crowdfunding is you leverage your community to raise capital. And what you're doing is you've changed the thesis and say, we're going to leverage our purpose to build a community from which we can build raise capital. What where did that idea come from, Mark?

Mark: Yes, like, like all my great ideas. I assume it came from somewhere else. Yeah. Look, the history of the crowdfunding world started with a lot of crowd talk, right? That. That, in general, just you want to get to the people, whatever that means. And it's not a particularly strategic idea necessarily, but you just go out to the crowd. And then there became this idea of community. Right. That really, when you look at what happens in a crowdfunding scenario, what happens is really your community for the most part, right? You may broaden it some, but a lot of it is leveraging people that were already in the community or are sort of on the edges and will come in and feel an affinity. And that's all like that's really useful stuff. It's exciting to take a community. I mean, even before you get to any purpose discussion, right? They have this community that is just deeply identified with what they do. And, you know, thousands and thousands of people who would do who would drive anywhere or go anywhere or just, you know, to be associated with their business. And so that kind of crowd or community thing is useful and helpful and can help one of these campaigns be successful. My thought was just as great as that is. If you can take a community and you can activate that community around a purpose, that's a different thing. Like that is maybe it feels like a nuanced difference, but that's there's a power in that's different than the whole rest of the activities. And so, therefore, yes, there ought to be an opportunity to have all kinds of people who would who do want to make an investment.

Mark: That's why you know, this is this bespoke landing page thing. Right. That's an interesting animal because, although functionally, it should be as easy as buying a product, right? It's not quite like buying a product. And so but you do want to tell a story about the business and the product, but you do want to tell the impact story. Like, that's a lot of stuff to balance and a lot of needles to thread. But if people can get into that, if people can who do want to invest in something that will be successful, who want this to be part of what they're, you know, money makes possible in the world, can also then connect with this story of transformation. You know, that's really, really powerful. And I do believe that that could be broadened far beyond sort of just your normal customer base. And look, then, the flip side of a crowdfund, right? What's so great about that idea is that if you that every person that you can align with you that wasn't a customer before. Not only do they probably become a customer, but they become the whole process is taking customers and the community and turning them into owners and advocates. And so when they became owners, they become advocates in a way that could really drive sort of the underlying fundamentals of the business going forward. And so it seemed to be for me like the, you know, sort of the perfect storm of possibility there.

Devin: Well, it is exciting to think about how this has the potential to work. And of course, now, Ian, you're living in the middle of it, right? You're in the middle of this campaign. You've been you launched this. I'm trying to recall, was it early this year that you launched the campaign or late last year?

Ian: It was late last year. Yeah, November of last year.

Devin: So you've had enough of a run now, I guess, to see how it's working. Are you seeing actually some people who were outside your community that have been drawn in by purpose to invest? And then the parallel question, and I'm curious about, is, are we also seeing are you also seeing those folks who come in as fresh members of the community, as investors? Are they also becoming customers?

Ian: Yeah, we are the, and I think the way Mark was describing it is, is true. The power of community is is is a big deal. And I mean, I'm even reminded in coming back from Ethiopia how important community is for all of us. The word that I kept hearing over and over in Ethiopia was resilient, resilient, resilient. And sometimes, you know, you've got some people that are strong, some people that are weak. How do we help each other? How do we help each other through those challenges and the good and the bad? And it's a beautiful thing that I get to see, perhaps sometimes more when I'm in Ethiopia, but reminded that even here in the US and other parts of the world where we have even adopted this proverb that it's an African proverb that says If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And we're constantly saying that. It's become such an ingrained part of our DNA at Parker Clay, where we look through decisions with the business with regards to whether we go together; what does that look like? And I can tell endless stories of even just these last few weeks in Ethiopia of doing just that. And you know, what we get to do, and I think even just what Mark was saying with regards to how we thread all these stories together, that we are a business, we're a for-profit, purpose-driven business, right? We're a legal public benefit corporation that has the idea baked into it that we are benefiting the public in some way.

Ian: And so driving that purpose every day at Parker Clay is essential. But we're also building, you know, an exciting business. And so the question I think that comes up as we approach the community, you know, and it's a little bit more of a newer idea, is can you be kind of can you focus on both profit and purpose? And I think, historically, we have separated these things very distinctly, right? Where we have kind of charitable giving, charitable donations, aid, things that we're doing which are not bad and are needed. But then we have for-profit, right? And then we have businesses that are just purely about profit. And I think that that has been the model for many, many years. And only really, and I would say the last ten or so years, have businesses been looking at more of a purpose-driven structure. And, you know, we've seen that because we've been doing it from the beginning. And so I think that's where as we approach the community, we get to certainly bring that out of more of our existing customers. And we've seen a significant amount of people interested in this round. For many, it might be their first type of investment like this, right? Because this is still a new space. And I think opportunities like this webinar and the education around it are important because, for a lot of people, they just haven't had the opportunity unless they've been, like Mark said in the beginning, more of institutional investors who have that experience. And so for customers who have been buying our bags, this might be the first type of investment.

Ian: And one practical way to share that. We had a warehouse sale here in Santa Barbara at our warehouse, and the community came out. They were excited to buy bags and drove from kind of all over California to come. And this one woman came up to me and said, Hey, I'm one of your shareholders. And she said, I'm with a big smile with a ton of excitement, and that just would never be possible before, right? Where she was saying it with pride as an owner, I'm a shareholder in the company. I'm excited not just about your bags, which I love, but also being part of this in a deeper way with you. And so, you know, we have seen both the existing community base, which I think has been a big part of our strength, and that's also brought in some new faces who have then converted to customers, some people who maybe own businesses now kind of come in and go, hey, one of my gifts for my employees or my clients. And so it really has allowed us to stretch that out and the opportunities out with our offering, not only from the investment side but from the product side. And that is a benefit, I would say for sure, with this type of route is if you are a consumer brand, you get to bring in this customer base, and if you have a product, it's also fun to share because you kind of get both investment and customers who are buying your product.

Devin: Yeah, it's really exciting to think about the synergy between the investment and the product sales. Of course, I've dated myself just by using the 90s word synergy, but that's where, you know, it was ingrained. It was beaten, I think. You know, many of us in business school back in the day got a tattoo on an arm. Um, so anyway, sorry. I apologize for using the word synergy. But there is some exciting interplay between the investors and the customers. Rebecca, I want to talk to you a little bit more broadly about investing in these kinds of deals. I know you're a broker-dealer, and you have to be careful. You're an attorney. You're smarter than I am. Help us understand. How sort of anyone now can invest as easily almost in a deal like Parker Clay Let's be a little bit nonspecific so you can stay a little bit out of some of the regulatory scrutiny for a minute. So you're not recommending a deal, but tell us a little bit about how people can get comfortable that it's okay to invest. It's a new thing. Ian made it very clear. Right? It's new to people. How do people get comfortable with that as investors?

Rebecca: Yeah. Thanks, Devin. And I will disclaim that because I'm not licensed in the broker-dealer. Our broker-dealer helps the issuers' side rather than being the type of broker-dealer that works for the investors. But I think what we're seeing is investors are getting comfortable with the purpose and the mission of the business. And, of course, the regulations are very well designed to make sure that investors have access to all the information they need. So they have fully standardized offering documents that tell them prescriptively about the business and the business plan and who the founders are. And there are bad actor checks run on all the founders before the offerings get set up. And then there are caps on the amount of money that investors can invest in these deals because it is supposed to be for investors to build a portfolio of investments and not, you know, bet the farm on one investment that they're making. And so what we are doing is bringing that awareness to folks so that they can participate in these kinds of offerings and build that kind of portfolio. If you look at it according to Global Impact Investor Network, the impact investing global portfolio stands at 1.2 trillion assets under management. And so there's a lot of capital out there that's looking for deals like Parker Play where people want to be making an impact, as Mark described, with their money and the key trends that we're seeing as part of that impact investing. Ian really described the most important one to me, which is as millennials and the younger generation view the world, they don't view it the same way some of the older generations do with charity and business, and business is out to make a profit, and charity does good in the world.

Rebecca: They really see business as a better change agent than charity, and charitable charities need to be able to have a more sustainable business model. And so the two are really blending together in a really interesting way, with Parker Clay being the perfect example of that. We've also seen, you know, statistics like six out of every ten millennials have actually done impact investing, so they know what it is. The people who do it feel good about it. They do it repeatedly. And so we see it really as this snowball that's rolling down the hill where you've now had, you know, ten years ago, the online buying ecosystem was not what it is today. It was almost at zero. People went into bricks and mortar stores to buy everything they needed. Fast forward ten years. That's grown into a $16 trillion industry. And so as we see investing, moving online in the same way, moving out of the boardrooms and the, you know, physical handshakes and online, we've also seen a really nice change in the types of founders that are getting funded with increased female and minority founders because of the way the messaging is being presented. So all of that to say, I think investors are this is resonating with investors. They want to do this. We're seeing the upward trend, and the legislation's been around for over ten years now and has gone through a number of iterations to make sure that it's safe for investors.

Devin: Yeah, it's it is exciting to see, you know, in the last, I think, seven or eight quarters, we've seen venture capital decline every quarter. You know, there was some buzz around AI and notwithstanding the buzz around AI, venture capital investment still declined. And uh, but we're seeing Crowdfunding and Reg A plus kinds of deals are pretty solid. We haven't seen the same declines in that space. There's real resilience, and it is exciting to see. And I'm hopeful that as we get a little more confident in markets recovering, we'll see real growth in investment Crowdfunding going on. Mark, I wonder if you would just take a minute and talk a little bit about it. You're thinking about investing as well. I want to make sure that--I know there are entrepreneurs, and we'll come back to that. There are entrepreneurs listening who desperately want to figure out how they, too, can raise $15 million. But all of them are also investors, and others are here primarily because they're interested in investing in Parker Clay or another deal. And your vision, right for this, was driven in no small part by the idea that ordinary investors should have the same opportunity that wealthy investors have. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Mark: Sure. Well, I mean, I can do my philosophy of investing, but the two of them just did it. So I'm surprised. I'm surprised they didn't share my deck to make the point. Yeah, there has been historically this two, you know, classically called the two-pocket idea, that in one pocket, I put all the money in the world, and in the other pocket, I give it away to make good things happen. Right? And so that purpose and the context of profit is bad and distracting, and profit in the context of purpose is bad and distracting. Right. And that's just not the world anymore. I mean, it's fine. That was the world for a long time. Friedman messed a bunch of people up. But it's not. I mean, the world now is a bunch of founders who don't see trade-offs, who don't come out of the nonprofit world. We want to build big, giant companies that do really well, that have purpose at the center of what they do, and that the purpose is not a distraction from the profit.

Mark: It's that I make my profit via, like, “What are you talking about?” Like, “The purpose drives my profit.” Those aren't competing ideas, and I won't like to give up all my profit because that's business, and that's what makes the purpose possible. Like, what are you even talking about, right? Like, they don't even know how how to put it in that context. And that's how younger investors are, too, right? Like, that's the way they want to think about things. And so so yeah, that's just sort of a new-ish idea. But it's now the water everybody swims in, and everybody better adjust. You know, I always attribute to this, I've always heard it attributed to Marc Andreessen, you know, fellow, fellow purpose warrior who said that impact companies were were like houseboats, right? They're not a good boat and not a good house. And my response was always, that seems kind of weird coming from somebody who spends a bunch of time on a yacht.

Devin: So, you know what? There are companies like Parker Clay that are both good houses and good boats, and I don't even know what you're talking about, man. And so, um, so yeah, so that is the future. And I think we're just going to see sort of a massive shift. And although this is new, you know, you know, it's my job generally to, to, to break up assumptions, although this is new and it's hard like I don't you watch any of the meme stock stuff that happened in the last couple of years. I mean, nobody had heard of Robinhood before. And everybody's got mutual funds, and everybody knows what the stock market is, and everybody owns private shares and companies, and people want to go to Berkshire Hathaway's, you know, annual like, no, this isn't new. This is a highly, highly regulated marketplace for people to do what they constantly do all the time. Otherwise, in other places, it just opens up a little slice of the market. Right? It opens up this early stage, mid-stage growth, stage investment in private companies that you didn't have access to before, and now you do so. So take all that comfort you have from all the rest of it, right? And apply it to this new asset class that you just were cut out of before.

Devin: Yeah, it's an interesting point. You know, a meaningful part of diversification is to add some private assets to the the mix of things that you're holding. So that's a great, great point. Now, Ian, as you think about your offering, I wonder if you would just take a minute with, you know, we've been kind of talking about the focus on investors, and you, more than anyone, are authorized to speak about your deal. Tell us why you would like why you think it's a good idea for an investor to participate.

Ian: Yeah. No. Thanks for that opportunity to share that. Look, one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet right now is in the fashion space. Actually, he is the wealthiest individual on the planet. And it's only been, I would say, in the last 20 or so years that, you know, or 20 plus that that's really kind of launched into the stratosphere with what he's done. The fashion space is really exciting. Africa is really exciting. And when we look at it through this lens when we were living in Ethiopia. It was really an aha moment where everything we were talking about profit, purpose, all those things really aligned when I'm there, and my family and I are working really towards this effort of saying hearing over and over from women saying we don't want handouts, we want jobs, we want opportunities. And when we discovered this raw material, which source--think about ten years ago, we didn't know where things were made or how they were made. We weren't looking at tags. This whole awakening of the conscious consumer was born about ten years ago. And it wasn't just a moment in time. It's a movement. And the movement has been picking up a lot of energy over these last ten years to the point where even, as Rebecca said, with millennials and younger generations. They are investing and spending where their values are. And I think that that is seen today more than ever before in history. And so when we created Parker Clay, we both looked at it and said in order and just to build on what Mark was saying, in order to have the impact we want to see in the world, which we believe women should not have to compromise and choose these really terrible, you know, routes to provide for themselves and their families.

Ian: And if we can change that through economic empowerment, then watch out because these women are reinvesting 90% of their incomes back into their communities, into their families, and their kids' lives are going to change. Schools are going to change. These are the next leaders of the world. It's a good investment. And if we can make really beautiful products that, frankly, the world wants, then the combination of those things is so powerful. We're in a space that is approaching $300 billion in terms of the market. So the leather space for fashion brands, both in bags and shoes, kind of become the cornerstone of and building blocks of these fashion brands. And when it comes to Africa. It's an exciting, exciting time. I really cannot stress this enough, for me, spending weeks and months of my year in Ethiopia and in East Africa, the manufacturing world is changing dramatically. If you think about the Industrial Revolution at the peak, it was about 20 million jobs. And right now, there is a shift happening of about 100 million manufacturing jobs that are leaving China and looking for a new home. And when you think about Africa, by 2050, a quarter of the population is going to live on the continent of Africa.

Ian: These are incredibly resourced, capable, young, vibrant workers that are looking for opportunities. And so when we look at Africa, we're also, and that's what is exciting about Parker Clay is that it's not just the brand that is selling into a market that is approaching 300 billion. We're also a brand that has taken on the manufacturing opportunity to become vertically integrated. And so we have the opportunity as a manufacturer and as a brand to really press into this market. And we've got the track record. We're 20 plus million in historical sales where we have, again, we've been selling and creating opportunity primarily here in the US and starting to tiptoe into international markets as well. And so there are a lot of very exciting pieces that this raise and why we're doing it. One is to bring the community into it. This would be our typical series A round, and to say, rather than going that traditional institutional round, we want to bring the community to be part of this with us because we see where we're going. We see the potential of building this company into a multinational, really significant brand that can compete on the global level with the other well-known fashion brands in the world who, by the way, might be buying leather from Ethiopia but stamping "made in" somewhere else with it. And that's where we're excited to bring people into that story with us to be part of this with us and truly, again, live up to that value of we go together where you get to be part of it, not just from a financial side with the investment, but also the impact side.

Ian: And we are absolutely, and I can tell you that, just literally coming back days from Ethiopia. The way that we are transforming lives is humbling. It's just humbling from my position to be part of that and to see. I'll give you an example. We had a celebration that we've created this called we call it our Center of Excellence, where women can come in with no experience in the leather industry. We can give them job training, skills training along with it. We've partnered with a local bank called Anat, which means mother, and they do financial literacy training. We have a subsidized lunch program. We have a food pantry where we subsidize meals. We have a huge bus that we transport people to be back and forth from home to work because transport is a problem challenge. And we also consistently look at livable wages in the country and are constantly leveling up with regard to that because inflation is a challenge for them. So we take all these impact pieces, and we set that as a priority. We've also become one of the highest-ranked certified B Corps, and we're the top in the world in terms of the leather space. And that also allows us to be third-party accredited with regard to this impact. So it's not just us saying it, it's saying, hey, we're putting our proof through this accreditation as well.

Ian: And we're really proud of that. And the vision really for us is to create millions of opportunities, not only through Parker Clay but through the network and showing people that the opportunities here are endless with regards to these women and what can happen in a place like Ethiopia and Africa. Um, so that's, you know, that's where we're at, and we're excited to be able to offer this to the community, to those people that are listening in. Um, and also, you know, I just want to add in with Mark, Rebecca and even Devin, you as well. You guys are part of that community, and really grateful for the contributions that you guys make in lending your voice and the efforts because what we're doing and the power of this whole thing is really we go together. And I think that it is an exciting time where we get to prove that we can do this and put really meaningful opportunities in front of people, not just from the investment side but from the impact side. And I can tell you because I've been in both a nonprofit and a for-profit siloed space, that this space that I'm in now, I've never been more motivated and on fire to work towards the success of this mission and purpose. And I think that we're going to see more people who are aligned with those things motivated and doing similar things as well.

Devin: That's great. And we've got.

Devin: A great question that came in from Gretchen. She said, Um, do you foresee institutional investors making this mind shift toward purpose investing? Or will it take continuous reg CF and reg growth to lead this new investment world? And Mark, maybe we can start with you, and then Rebecca and Ian, maybe you can close us out on this, but I think it's a great question.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, they have–really, if you're old like me, you remember a 2010 research report from JP Morgan back when. Sort of, you know, that long ago, right? So it was sort of a social entrepreneurship, social enterprise. We didn't quite know what the thing was yet. And the argument was that whatever this thing was, this impact thing could potentially be a $1 trillion asset class. That was their argument someday. And you know how asset classes work. Asset classes are like defined verticals of kinds of companies. So small companies, big companies, other kinds of assets, real estate. Right. That's an asset class. And so they said there could be one of those. That's impact, depending on how you define impact. Now, it's something like a 20 to $50 trillion market. And so they were wrong, but they were wrong because what we found out is that it's not the institutional world did not respond to it as an asset class. How we responded to it is as a lens, right? And so it didn't it wasn't like, Oh, I'm going to invest in small-cap stocks and impact stocks. It was, How do I look at small-cap stocks through the lens of impact investing? Because in the institutional world, all impact framework is a risk-adjusted return framework. So they're trying to say, what are the risks associated with this? If I don't look at the impact pieces of it. And so it's become this lens.

Mark: Now, what I think is so interesting about CF and Reg A and what I do right early stage investing is that you can do that, you know, on a big global scale. It's just really hard. Like it's hard to figure out how you run a giant multinational corporation in a way that's ethical, and it's just hard, especially if you're trying to turn those around and you have things like ESG and then the backlash to ESG and. Right. And so that's it's incredibly important. Everybody needs there need to be brilliant people working in that world. I just sort of punt on that and say, you know, where it's not all that complicated is in relatively early-stage investing. Look at the kind of control and focus that Ian's able to have right because of this company is what it is. And because it's at the size and stage that it is. And then we can help them build companies that look different in the end than the ones that maybe we have now, even when they're big and giant. And so that's just a meme more satisfying, a more interesting sort of place to play to sort of one-to-one almost what I believe with what I'm making happen. And so, yeah, institutions do do it. It's just a more complicated sort of world in the big high-end, global, national.

Devin: Great, great thoughts. Rebecca, do you want to add anything to that?

Rebecca: I think Mark covered it well. So the only thing I would add is what we see is typically people really connecting to the specific purpose of the company, and think Reg A gives an investor the ability to connect on a very personal level. And so when you see impact investing in a fund, it's going to be certain high-level defined parameters. Whereas an individual can say, I love what Ian's doing in Ethiopia, and that mission speaks to me. So I want to invest in that company versus like a bucket of companies that have a certain mission. One other thing that I want to add that Ian jogged in my mind that I want to call out. I think it's really interesting how he said it's our series A, but we're about community, and so we're going to choose to do this. There are a lot of companies historically that have similarly made that choice, who think the way Ian thinks. A lot of people don't know that Peloton--huge company today--started out as a crowdfunding campaign. And you've got companies like Substack, you know, going out around a Series B saying we're a community-driven company, and so we want to do this everything down to, you know, the Green Bay Packers, an NFL team who says we're all about our community, we're fan owned, and they're the number one brand in the NFL because they've been doing this for over 60 years. So it is out there. It is a trend that's happening. A lot of those stories we need to just bring to light so people understand that people do think this way and feel this way.

Devin: Yeah, great. I think if.

Ian: Devin, if I could add to, I think, you know, what's interesting too, is. It's more touchable like it's more connected in that sense. Like I'm available. If anyone has questions, reach out. Right. Like, and I think with these bigger investments and you typically, it feels more unreachable or untouchable. And like the woman coming up to me and saying, Hey, I'm one of your shareholders, that's so exciting. Or I get emails from people saying, I just invested, I respond, and we communicate. I love that. And I think that's another piece that's really powerful because, again, we were just believing also, as a philosophy, we were designed to be in community together. And this is just one more extension of doing just that.

Devin: Yeah, that's a great point.

Devin: Carl Deacon is asked a great question. And, you know, I'll ask you to tackle this first and then Rebecca and Mark, you may want to jump in and add something. But the question is, how are you attracting people to become investors? Messaging, and communication channels targeting investor candidates. Describe some of the real tactics at the practical level.

Ian: Yeah, it's a good question. We've been learning a lot since we started. Having a community is a huge opportunity to start with, right? So we've sold to, like Mark said, thousands of customers. We've been doing this for about ten years. So we've got a really strong customer base that's highly engaged. These are reoccurring customers, people who are coming back, and sharing with friends and family. So that's a huge piece. But what we recognize, too, is that buying a bag and investing in a company, those are a bit different. And so we've had to cater some of that communication that's a little bit different. Right. And I think we've grown one of the one of the most powerful things that you can have is to bring in, I think, a community into that. Think outside of that. One thing that we've been experiencing and expert at is just the way that we do paid advertising and outreach and things like that. And, you know, sometimes we try things, and it works; sometimes we try things, and it doesn't work. And so it's a constant iteration around the types of things we're doing. I think what's most important is setting up a, and if you're a kind of a digital marketer, you have this mindset, but there's also this idea of, you know, broader outreach campaigns, and then you have multiple touchpoints that you continue to follow up with someone. And that's one thing that DealMaker is helpful with, too, is that it's easier to kind of automate some of that communication. But I think email, phone calls, if you have a product, being able to send the product out to people has been really helpful, I think, at its core. And then, on top of that, you can experiment with paid advertising and certain things like that. You just, I think as you mature in any of the campaigns, and that's one of the things that we've seen is as we've brought in more from the campaigns, then we can kind of continue to invest into it and try some more of those things out. So. Those have probably been the core pieces.

Devin: Fantastic.

Devin: Rebecca, do you want to add anything in terms of those tactics or Mark?

Rebecca: I think that that's all through--primarily, it's the website as the main communication vehicle, and then the email really is the primary form of communication to a certain extent or other different, you know, voice mail. I think direct voice-on-voice contact, um, presentation info sessions where people can understand and really get a deep dive on the company and really connect with the founder and understand the founder's mission, all like a Zoom conference. All those are communication methods that folks are experimenting with and trying.

Devin: Excellent.

Devin: Mark, anything you want to add?

Mark: No. I mean, the DealMaker is a good example of believing that that kind of stuff's important. I mean, they bought, you know, what they would argue what a lot of people would argue was sort of the premier marketing firm. Right. To go out and tell stories, to make it part of a vertically integrated approach. I mean, so, you know, for us, the purpose rounds isn't a company; it's just a category we're trying to help define, right? It's if you're a historically excluded founder or a woman founder or you're doing, you know, an impact thing, and you're doing one of these Reg A. We would define that sort of as trying to raise a round of funding with purpose. That's a purpose round. And so, so we chose to engage by saying, look, we have resources, and so why don't we come alongside founders who want to do this column alongside company operators who want to do this? Because one thing about it is that it can be sort of semi-complicated. There's a bunch of vendors. I mean, what DealMaker has done so well, say, well, we'll in-house some of those, right? So it's a much more seamless kind of approach. So they have a transfer agent and but you still have a lawyer, and you still have an auditor, and you still...

Mark: So, it still can be kind of complex. And number two, it can be expensive. I mean, you write a check to all those people, and, you know, Ian can attest to you can be a hugely successful company doing really, really well for a long time. And you don't just pull sort of free money out of your ear to make things happen. That's, you know, that can be a real challenge. So we just said, why don't we help try to take those two things off the table? Number one, why don't we try to come alongside and sort of help do some top-level management so it's a little bit easier to manage the vendors? And then number two, why don't we use some of our capital and just fund the whole thing in a model that gets us that money back at some point so we can help somebody out too. But how do we take all the all that, you know, how do I come up with the money off the table and just provide the money? And that then opens up the ability to do things like marketing and focusing on storytelling in a way that you maybe would have a hard time swallowing otherwise.

Devin: Yeah, well.

Devin: Our time is, is up. And this has just been a fascinating discussion for me, and I'm grateful for all of your insights and for you making the time. I'm grateful to those who joined us today to hear what you're saying. Before we wrap up, let me invite each of you to just take a minute and share a closing thought, a brief closing thought. We just have a minute or two, but why don't we go to Rebecca, Mark and then Ian?

Rebecca: Why you're here is to talk about impact investing, and I think the snowball's rolling down the hill.

Devin: It's a great message. Great message.

Devin: Mark, any closing thoughts?

Mark: Closing thoughts? Uh. Um.

Ian: That was my thought, Mark.

Mark: Oh, now you got to come up with something. You're the...

Rebecca: You're mine too, but I can't say it.

Ian: I know it would feel weird about it.

Mark: I'm like, I'm the one person who could just come out and say it.

Ian: I love that. You'll see if you go on LinkedIn, Mark often will do that on my post in case I miss it. Look, I'm, I'm honored for anyone who is listening or part of this that you would consider investing. We're in kind of the tail end of our last few months of this round. And so we're going to be making a big push to bring in the hopefully the final amounts of what we're hoping to raise. So would love to have you check out the site., and email me you can email me directly at If you have any questions, I'm happy to chat more about what we're doing or questions about these types of rounds.

Devin: Fantastic.

Devin: Well, again, thank you, all three of you. I'm extremely grateful for your time. You know, the insights that you're providing are profoundly important, and it is exciting to think it truly is exciting to think for social entrepreneurs and diverse founders to think about the possibility that the very purpose that motivates and drives them is enabling their success and is not a friction, but it is a tool for accomplishing success and raising capital. To those of you who attended today, I want to thank you very much. Whether you're watching on YouTube or elsewhere or whether you're here with us in Zoom, we thank you very much for being here. I invite you to visit to check out our upcoming future events. We will be holding three in-person events this fall and early winter. Um, we're at the earliest stages of planning, but it looks like we'll be in Salt Lake City in Baltimore and perhaps Northern California later this year, and we will continue doing the super crowd once a month. And so our next super crowd hour will be on August 19th, I think. Let's let me just double-check. August 16th, excuse me, August 16th. So four weeks from today, we'll see you here again. So thanks, everybody. I hope to see you again soon.

Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.