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Philanthropists are ideal investors for social impact startups

Philanthropic corporate leaders are motivated by more than just money. They seek to promote the welfare of others—whether those are employees, customers, neighbors or children. Their high-achieving nature, combined with industry expertise and access to powerful networks, makes them ideal candidates to become investors in social-impact startups.

While a traditional startup is 100% focused on making money, a social-impact startup seeks to increase profits while making a positive impact in its community. There are several advantages to investing directly in a social-impact startup.

While donors receive tax deductions for making contributions, investors in Indiana might qualify for venture capital investment credits. If the startup meets the IEDC’s credentials and is approved, the investor could receive a tax credit of up to 25% against his or her Indiana tax liability.

The Startup Ladies recently hosted its second annual #InvestInWomenFounders Summit at Delta Faucet where nine women business owners were interviewed by nine exited founders and senior-level executives for the purpose of moving money into the hands of women founders. One hundred percent of those women are building scalable startups that are making a social impact in our society. Which one of these problems could you see yourself helping to solve?

Health care

Diana Caldwell is the CEO and co-founder of Amplified Sciences, a solution that enables doctors to better identify patients at risk for developing pancreatic cancer as well as to reduce unnecessary surgeries and associated complications. Karen Wurster (above), CEO and investor in Adipo Therapeutics, is developing a weekly treatment for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Morgan Miller, CEO and founder of Miller Company Medical Devices, is saving patients from bed sores and pressure ulcers while reducing hospital staff injuries, which cost health care establishments $26 billion yearly.

Caldwell, Wurster and Miller are all building companies with the goal of helping our workforce be safer and healthier.


Lesley Crane (above) is the CEO and founder of DiversiFind, a B2B SaaS platform that helps diverse companies market themselves to entities that want to support their DEI initiatives by diversifying their spending. Nicole Clark, CEO and founder of striing, is creating a consumer app that provides structure for how to document your life with timelines that are private, searchable and shareable.

Anna Dorris is the CEO and founder of Everewear, an AI-powered shopping platform that helps people find secondhand clothes they love in minutes instead of hours. Doloreste J. Baptiste is CEO and founder of Shestel, a consumer app that invites users to explore movies, TV shows, books and music and to open meaningful dialogues with others about their experiences and interpretations of what they have watched, listened to and read.

Crane, Clark, Dorris and Baptiste are all building technologies that will better connect humans to our personal interests. The future of tech is all about personalized experiences.

Wine and food

Nicole Kearney is the head winemaker and founder of Sip & Share Wines, a boutique winery that crafts vegan wines while addressing the underrepresentation of Black and brown consumers and winemakers in the industry. (FYI: Kearney’s wine is filtered through clay instead of materials like fish bladders and crustacean exoskeletons. The filtering process makes it vegan.)

Bo Turner is the CEO and founder of The TruckStop, Indiana’s first park for food trucks, where you can always find your favorite foods and new eats and hang out with friends. Turner wants to build community and create more physical space permanently reserved for food trucks. In some cases, food-truck parks could bring breakfast, lunch and dinners to food deserts. Kearney and Turner are burgeoning leaders offering established industries progressive solutions.


Brian Powers, founder of PactSafe, interviewed Caldwell at the #InvestInWomenFounders Summit and is in discussions with her and Kearney about investing in both their companies.

“These women are incredibly smart and highly accomplished. After selling PactSafe two years ago, I try to make a point of investing in entrepreneurs who will make a positive social impact for people around the world. I wish more exited founders would invest their time and money in women business owners like Diana and Nicole,” Powers said.

When individuals invest in a social-impact company, they create jobs, stabilize the economy, might be eligible for a tax credit, and have a shot at making money back (and then some). Social-impact investing is an economic development tool that more corporate leaders should consider exercising. If you want to learn more about supporting the growth of any of the aforementioned women-owned startups, feel free to email me at•

*This article was originally published in the Indianapolis Business Journal on December 1, 2023.


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