Adventures in Impact Investing — March Recap
A little over a month ago, I announced that I was stepping aside from day-to-day Fractured Atlas responsibilities for 6 months to explore the idea of launching a new impact investing fund. Now that I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, I thought I’d share a brief update for anyone who’s interested in stalking me.
But first, an important clarification! A number of people read my Don’t Call it a Sabbatical! post and somehow came away with the impression that Fractured Atlas itself was shutting down or changing its core services like fiscal sponsorship, Artful.ly, or insurance. That could not be further from the truth! Fractured Atlas is still doing all of that stuff, and will continue doing it as long as there are artists and organizations who need our help (i.e. forever?). After nearly 20 years, the organization is still growing at a healthy pace, and continues to reach over 500,000 artists across North America. Nothing I’m working on changes that, now or ever. The impact investing project, a.k.a. The Exponential Creativity Fund, is a brand new line of business, operating in parallel to all the existing work. I’m still the CEO, and presumably will be until a few months after I die when someone notices that I’ve stopped talking as much during meetings.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way… What have I been up to?
- Hearing lots of pitches from entrepreneurs — You guys came out of the woodwork after that announcement! Seriously, this was super exciting to see, because it provided some immediate validation that a lot of interesting innovation is happening in the areas we’re looking at. I’ve talked to people creating software for non-linear virtual reality editing, a digital platform for tabletop gaming, a comprehensive service for digital archiving and preservation, online portfolio platforms, and much more. I won’t lie, this part is really fun.
- Giving out a lot of (hopefully useful) advice — Every entrepreneur I’ve met with has understood that we don’t yet have much money to work with, and that we’ll make at best 2–3 angel investments during this 6-month exploration. Still, it’s important to me that they get something useful out of the meeting, even if it’s not a check. That’s why I’ve been spending a substantial amount of time (60+ minutes, which is about 4x what you typically get from a VC) with each founder, trying to help them refine and improve their ideas. This isn’t always fun for them — I ask challenging questions and am candid about pointing out critical weaknesses in their business plans. The good news is they’re welcome to ignore me, which I’m sure many will do! But I know at least a few have found it helpful, which is gratifying.
- Building a network of advisers and “curatorial partners” — As much advice as I’ve been dishing out, it’s nothing compared to the advice I’ve been soliciting from others. If we succeed at this, it will be because we’re able to (i) leverage our network of relationships in the field to drive a robust pipeline of opportunities, and (ii) connect with the right advisers to fill in gaps in our own experience as investors. I’ve been having a lot of great conversations recently in support of these goals.
- Gearing up for some formal learnin’ — I’m honored to report that I was nominated for a Kauffman Fellowship. If they’ll have me, the program starts in June and lasts for two years (very much part-time, of course). Through it I’d be plugged into an unparalleled global network of VCs and other innovators. (I’ll hopefully find out soon whether I’ve been accepted, so feel free to say a little prayer for me, if you’re into that kind of thing.)
- Not talking to investors (yet) — I’ve had a couple of chats with potential investors in the fund, but I’m not quite ready to make an aggressive push on this front. A few more pieces need to come together first.
- Working from home and never wearing a tie — Definitely a perk, however long it lasts. At long last, videoconferencing technology (and the requisite bandwidth) has reached a state of mainstream usability.
That’s about it. I’m having a great time and learning a lot. If this kind of post is interesting (let me know!), I’ll keep making them during the remaining five months. Regardless, watch this space for news on things like our first investments, our first investors, and more.
About Adam Huttler
Adam Huttler is the founder and Managing General Partner of Exponential Creativity Ventures. As a six-time founder, his career’s through-line has been about helping mission-driven companies use technology to drive innovative revenue strategies. Adam is best known as the founder of Fractured Atlas, a social enterprise SaaS platform that helps artists and creative businesses thrive.