The search for investors is on

Searching for investors is a complicated and lengthy process. It is also quite unpredictable as one never knows who will surface and who will stay the course of a due diligence process to finally arrive at an investment decision. Here is where we stand:

Track one is a laborious process to apply for and get down-selected to participate as one of twenty companies in something called Investor Circle. Some 100+ investors, all with social impact priorities as well as financial return, get together twice annually to review investment opportunities that range from high tech , medical, retail and international development. The amount of prep work to have a chance to speak for 7 minutes is extensive. This group’s record is impressive, in that they get about 1/3 of participants funded, so these are reasonable odds. I believe we have a very solid story, an impressive track record and a strategic vision that should appeal to those investors in the room who aren’t afraid of looking beyond US shores for international development opportunities.

Track two is “Peta’s magic wand”. Peta’s ability to act as head hunter + Public Relations + local sales rep to the eco-lodge market has been growing exponentially since we launched together CO2 Bambu. Suffice that I articulate a need, i.e. I need a VP of Business Development, that she surfaces Jonathan, a good partner for me. I need a green builder and, while at the crater lake – Laguna de Apoyo, she strikes up a conversation with Alejandro, an Argentinian-American green builder from Austin. He winds up building our first model home. Several months later, the company needs some form of media coverage and, at a party which I didn’t’ want to attend, she meets and chats with a young journalist, who becomes interested in our story, and writes an article on our business that becomes absolutely fundamental to our survival. The article lands on the desk of a Swiss foundation that becomes our first major external funder. So… I am now verbalizing my need for additional funding, in order to invest in machinery that will allow me to ramp up industrially to meet the challenge of Haiti. Very recently, Peta magically connects the dots to a US investor already active in socially impactful projects in both Nicaragua and Haiti! What are the odds?! I can’t quite create a paid position that says “Co Founder and Vice President of RPRT (Right Person at Right Time)”, but if I could, that would be Peta’s job title.

Track three is my French connection. For years now I have been what’s called an Economics Counselor for France. It is an honorific activity that connects well established French business people with companies that occasionally need guidance on how to position themselves in a given market. I played a fairly active role in this organization back in Tokyo years ago, and then in Washington. It has mostly been a one way thing, where I have given advice and suggestions to French companies on an as needed basis. But recently, out of nowhere, came an email from someone in this network, surfacing an opportunity to connect with a semi-governmental, semi-private investment group that seeks to have social impact in areas designated by the French government as desirable. Nicaragua is one such area and I have pitched the merits of our business in terms of social impact and environmental contributions. We shall see if this yields investment interest.

Track four is about Denmark. Truth be told, I have a sense that this is the track that will yield the best package of funding + in kind contributions + network to help grow the business. Our Danish and Chilean friends Anders and Nieves are eco-entrepreneurs themselves, living in Granada. For months, Anders and I have been comparing notes. I would love to work with Anders as he is smart, energetic, visionary and just a cool guy to work with. It turns out that he is well connected into the Copenhagen-based business community and that the Danish government’s international development and investment priorities are very much aligned with what CO2 Bambu does. They resonate with the concept of socially progressive and environmentally impactful businesses. They understand that NGOs, while they seek to do good, have an inherent shortcoming in that their actions stop when the funding stops. Businesses, on the other hand, seek to be sustainable, i.e. sell a product profitably and keep selling… Now if a business develops a triple bottom line business where attractive shareholder returns combine with social and environmental objectives, it can really have a chance for long term impact. This is what CO2 Bambu is about and this is what Danish investors are looking for.

So with this blog entry, I hereby wave summon Peta to wave her magic wand. Come on, Pete, let’s go… Do your thing… I’ve got a business to run!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *