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Earlier this week, in the first part of this series on Making Impact Work for Startups, we discussed the topic How to Choose Your Company’s Impact Goals—so if you haven’t already, we recommend you read part one first.

If you're an impact startup founder, enter your 1-minute pitch video at PitchForProgress.com by May 28th for a chance to pitch live to impact investors in the July online Demo Day event + win prizes!


To turn abstract concepts into measurable, tangible goals, we need a change in mentality: we need to make “impact” speak the same language we use every day in team meetings and on Slack.

This is a process that can only be done together as a team, and you need to get them on board to succeed. In our experience, impact initiatives are destined to fail if they are forced “top-down” rather than grown “bottom-up.”

The good news is, you will not need to force this concept down people’s throats. Surveys show that most people would rather work in environmentally-conscious companies, and the majority of Millennials would even dock their own salaries to work for truly sustainable businesses. 

Action Points 

How can we get our whole teams engaged and excited? First, we recommend calling a team meeting, asking your team to prepare in advance with answers to a number of questions:

  1. As a company, do we do enough to make a positive impact?
  2. What are we already doing?
  3. What could we be doing better?  
  4. How could we help our local community more? 
  5. How could we make our company more inclusive? 
  6. How could we be more sustainable?

Having a roundtable discussion on these themes will ease the consensus around putting impact goals in place, bring to light ideas your team may have already been envisioning, and show you what they are each most passionate about. 

We suggest that after considering their insights, a second meeting be scheduled, to confirm the impact goals created from the For Progress planner, including the short- and long-term iKPI measurement parameters.

Impactful Tip 

We recommend choosing goals that your team has expressed interest in, and may already be engaged with. By asking open-ended questions about topics related to community impact, team diversity, and sustainability, you will enable your team members to be forthcoming about those passions. You will also be able to spot who in your team may be willing to take a more active role in the iKPI implementation.

If you are working remotely, it is fine to receive feedback by email, Slack, or another asynchronous tool, but we would recommend organizing an open Zoom Meeting forum when you meet together to discuss impact goals and strategy. 

When it comes to the next step of actually tracking progress, be transparent and respond to any indications that you may have set your sights too high: if you fall short too many times, you risk hitting your team with “impact fatigue.”

Case Study Example 1: Rever 

  • Rever (FI Silicon Valley) is an organizational tool designed to engage frontline workers, and instill team members with power to take action—the startup most recently raised a $3M Seed II round in August 2020. Rever works to empower frontline workers by facilitating contributions and meaningful insights, helping to drive bottom-up innovation, quality and efficiency improvements, as well as an overall greater awareness within the organization. 

Case Study Example 2: Involvesoft 

  • Involvesoft (FI San Diego) has likewise developed a team communication platform built to facilitate bottom-up, data-driven insights for organizational decision-makers. Drawing on unstructured data from multiple tools to discover patterns in streamlined and summarized data, Involvesoft powers community-driven engagement for industries from eCommerce to Energy to Law.

A uniting principle behind both the Rever and Involvesoft products are that communication is central to most the successful organizations. Your goal in engaging with your team on the impact KPI initiative is to intentionally listen, and to collect their input on the company’s impact rollout. A time to analyze and extract unifying insights can come later—but listening carefully to the direct input coming from other individualss in your organization is what is most critical to this step in the process. So lead here with empathy, by paying close attention to your team.

Next in this series on Implementing iKPIs and making impact work for startups, we get further into detail on deciding how to track your progress: iKPIs and measuring your impact—because by converting big sustainability challenges into small and specific goals and metrics, progress becomes much more achievable.

Making Impact Work for Startups: the iKPI Playbook

In 2015, the UN released 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an urgent call for governments, businesses, and organizations to align efforts towards “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.” As business leaders, it is past time to assume our share of this indispensable responsibility. We cannot rely solely on governments and large organizations to act without our support.

The biggest problems of humanity can and must be solved by entrepreneurs, who are currently the most effective catalysts for change in the world. We are therefore calling on entrepreneurs to form “Impact Companies” that address SDGs such as eradicating extreme poverty, ending world hunger, and achieving gender equality. To be successful, we believe entrepreneurs should weave sustainability into a concept we all understand - KPIs. That’s why we’ve come up with “impact” KPIs, or iKPIs. 

The Founder Institute has put together a free Progress Planner tool to search and generate iKPIs metrics, as well as a playbook for startup founders to work towards becoming an Impact Company through realistic, trackable steps. To help guide entrepreneurs, we will provide supporting resources, including practical iKPI recommendations, real-life applications and metrics, and example case studies, through 10 key steps - this post is #2 in that 10-part series.

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The Founder Institute believes we cannot rely solely on governments and big organizations to fix the world's problems - the time is now for entrepreneurs to also do their part.

Use our free For Progress planner to search iKPIs (Impact Key Performance Indicators) by keyword, or browse iKPIs by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Don't be intimidated by seemingly impossible impact metrics - instead, find specific SDGs that your business can positively influence.

Try the Progress Planner tool at FI.co/Progress, or learn more startup impact initiatives across the FI global network at FI.co/Impact

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