Welcome to The Impact Crowd!
Updated: Sep 14
Hello and welcome to The Impact Crowd! I’m glad you’re here. My name is Jon Elias, and I am the CEO and Co-Founder of The Impact Crowd. I would like to take a moment to share The Impact Crowd’s founding story with you.
Growing Up Near Detroit
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, with both my dad and grandpa before me starting businesses of their own. Through stories and firsthand experiences, I saw their constant dedication to serving their customers while maintaining a strong vision for both their professional and personal lives. These strong role models encouraged me to build a value system and explore my personal and professional passions. My dad always told me to follow my passions, act with integrity, and do my best every day.
Beyond my family upbringing, growing up near Detroit, I have seen the struggles and opportunities that exist throughout a diverse community. For many years, Detroit and its people have faced a great number of obstacles to succeed. These obstacles that have plagued the community include social issues such as economic inequity, educational system struggles, and inequitable employment opportunities, among many others .
Seeing these issues and wanting to be part of the solution spurred countless hours of brainstorming and searching for solutions to improve conditions both for Detroit and other communities facing similar challenges. I also sought to identify opportunities to solve these challenges through values and community-driven approaches.
Witnessing the more recent revitalization efforts and the ongoing recovery of Detroit has led me to believe that investing can be a viable opportunity to create better circumstances for a variety of communities. However, I believe Detroit and its investors still have a long way to go to ensure that its revitalization equitably serves all of its residents (not just focusing on the wealthiest). I believe this investment needs to be done in a sustainable way that prioritizes all community stakeholders instead of simply considering business shareholders.
Challenges Confronted Through a Values-Driven Approach
Expanding far beyond the Detroit area and the social impact opportunities mentioned above, I believe there are also many other challenges worthy of solving including underrepresentation and equitable business opportunities, and improving our climate and environment for future generations.
I believe underrepresentation and equitable treatment for new business founders is a significant challenge today which I would like to play a part in solving. Business funding is not currently an equal-opportunity environment, and BIPOC, women, and potentially other marginalized groups receive significantly less venture capital funding than other entrepreneurs . In fact, according to Zippia as of 2021 and Forbes as of 2022, while almost 36% of entrepreneurs are women and nearly 11% are Black, less than 10% and 1% of venture capital dollars go to funding their businesses respectively , . As a result of this challenge, I aim to create a community where we can give everyone a more equitable chance to realize their potential, accelerate their business, and make an impact together, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other identities.
Climate change is causing more severe weather events both near and far away from home . Michigan is experiencing more frequent extreme precipitation , much of the Southwestern United States is experiencing more intense droughts that can threaten the health of local residents , , and rising sea levels make coastal infrastructure more vulnerable . I believe all these issues are trending on unsustainable trajectories that could have a detrimental impact on our children and future generations.
According to the International Institute for Management Development, many businesses are pursuing solutions to support environmental sustainability, environmental footprint reduction, and additional measures , and I believe these are worthy causes that need more investments. By increasing available funding sources to support environmentally-focused businesses, I believe we have the chance to improve our climate for future generations while also having the opportunity to collectively invest in these types of businesses.
Social inequities, equitable business opportunities, and climate change and environmental issues are just a few of the many challenges we face in the world today. My goal is to mobilize collective action around these challenges to pursue a lasting, positive impact in our communities. Moving forward, I am optimistic that we can contribute to confronting these challenges through The Impact Crowd.
Putting Values into Action and Launching Our Funding Platform
When realizing my dream to create a business that is ingrained in my core values, it was important that the final product could have the potential to make a real and lasting positive impact by organizing and mobilizing communities of those with shared values. My family’s values, and Detroit, helped teach me this.
Today I can confidently share that my most important values and passions, which I bring to work every day, are infused into our business’s values. These values are:
To continue learning and exploring.
To do my best every day and act with integrity, just like my dad told me.
To embrace and celebrate the diversity of ideas, cultures, and communities.
And, to leave the world a better place than I found it.
Additionally, while I always held the business I founded should align with these values, I couldn’t overlook the need to embrace a strong purpose. My purpose ultimately came down to a desire to leave the world better than I found it. And so, I founded our funding platform, The Impact Crowd, which seeks to do just that: Serve a greater purpose than just operating our business by amplifying the opportunity of having positive environmental, social, and other impacts in our communities.
By aligning my values and passions, I aim to create a space where everyone 18 or older can participate in the pursuit of creating a more sustainable and equitable future together. As part of this vision, I believe crowdfunding for businesses can be a vehicle to amplify positive impact across communities and causes. At The Impact Crowd, we strive to use our funding platform to support businesses that share similar values as we do, and who care about all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders. Just as my purpose is to fulfill a greater need beyond simply providing services through our business, The Impact Crowd strives to work with businesses that recognize and value the opportunities associated with considering the effects of their business on their surrounding communities and environment.
The Impact Crowd places a specific and intentional focus on hosting businesses who share our values and desire to have a positive impact, and we work to provide transparent evidence of each business’s intended positive impact through our specific Impact Criteria. In fact, our specific Impact Criteria are directly integrated into our process for determining a business’s fundraising eligibility. It is important to us that we work with businesses that share our values for seeking to create a positive impact, and we believe that these practices will strengthen our collective goal to make an impact while also providing greater transparency of these businesses to our investors.
I intend for The Impact Crowd itself to be a vehicle for positive impact as well. At the time of writing, The Impact Crowd commits to donating 1% of our annual revenue to 1% For The Planet to support environmental impact causes. We pledge an additional 1% of our annual revenue to Friends of the Children-Detroit to support generational change by connecting children with long-term professional mentors.
Making Impact Investing More Accessible
One of the sparks of inspiration for founding The Impact Crowd came during a vacation to Northern Michigan. I saw wind turbines generating renewable energy, and this inspired me to look more deeply into direct investing opportunities to install more renewable energy producers. I found the cost of this undertaking to be individually prohibitive for me, and it occurred to me that others may share these thoughts.
There are many small and large businesses in and around my hometown which seek to create a positive impact, and I have wished I had more chances to financially support and have a stake in their values-driven businesses. Investment opportunities in these types of businesses have been available before. But, many available investment opportunities are restricted from the general public 18 and older due to particular investment rules and requirements . This is why one goal of The Impact Crowd is to use Regulation Crowdfunding investment rules to connect everyone 18 or older with easy-to-find, accessible opportunities to invest in businesses supporting causes they care about. While The Impact Crowd’s minimum investment amount of $100 per person may still be a barrier to entry for some, The Impact Crowd aims to open the door for more equitable investment opportunities by providing lower minimum investment amounts than many other private business investment opportunities. We want to help allow more people in our communities to pursue positive change while simultaneously having the opportunity to invest in businesses they believe in.
Furthermore, I believe not only access to investment opportunities, but education regarding financial literacy has created a barrier for many, contributing to a wealth gap we see in the United States today . I am passionate about creating more equitable investment opportunities, and I believe improving access to and education around investing is key to doing so.
So, What’s Next?
Together, I believe we have an opportunity to bring meaningful and lasting change to our communities, businesses and their priorities, and the world and environment around us. I hope that The Impact Crowd can be a platform bringing our communities together like never before, highlighting to businesses the priorities of their stakeholders. We pursue this while aiming to create a stronger community around us that seeks to provide everyone 18 or older with more equitable access to a greater number of investment opportunities.
Thank you for taking the time to read our founding story, and we are very excited to have you here. If The Impact Crowd sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, we are currently in the process of identifying businesses seeking to fundraise through our funding platform. You can review our Impact Criteria here and contact us with questions, and if you are looking for investment opportunities, sign up here to ensure that you stay updated with our latest activities.
We think the concept of doing well while doing good is thriving today, and we can’t wait to see how we can make an impact together!
 E. Lynch, et al, “The State of Economic Equity in Detroit”. May 2021. Available: https://detroitfuturecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/The-State-of-Economic-Equity-in-Detroit.pdf [Accessed August 4, 2023]
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