Last week in part seven of this series on Making Impact Work for Startups, we discussed building partnerships to amplify startup impact—this post is part eight. To see the entire playbook with a full background on using Founder Institute's For Progress impact metrics framework, we recommend you start at part one.
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!
People work harder towards their goals when others are watching, and not just because they want to impress. When others participate in your journey, it becomes bigger than just you or your business. It reminds you of how meaningful what you are doing is, and makes it feel worth all the effort.
Sharing the details of your iKPI journey from start to finish will make you part of an impact community that is working towards and holding themselves accountable to the same goals. You will also inspire others who are not quite there yet to follow in your footsteps, especially if you are sharing tried and tested impact solutions.
From the start, pledge to share all details of your process - whether positive or negative - then take it out of your hands. Implement a reporting process on your iKPI metrics and assign it to a particular employee or team as part of their weekly, monthly or quarterly tasks. This process should be automatic if possible, and integrate with any software you are using to track your other normal business KPIs or ongoing metrics.
Make the data public, and give it a dedicated area of your website. Importantly, within that area allow for feedback from the public and/or partners and customers. Ideally, you could providing blog-style updates, where real discussions can be held in the comments section, or on a dedicated Slack channel or forum.
Beyond the website, actively talk about your mission within the startup community, with peers and investors. Consider creating or joining groups of other founders working towards similar impact, and having regular meetings where you share frustrations, successes, and recommendations.
An example starting point outside of FI’s own For Progress framework would be to check out existing platforms like Impact Management Project (IMP), which is a forum to build global consensus on the best way to measure sustainability impact, and where thousands of people are already sharing ideas on best practices.
Communication is especially key when things are not going well, so try not to shy away from sharing your full situation when things are not going according to plan, or you are not hitting targets. If you are open about what is going wrong, you will direct more minds toward helping you find the solutions. If you never try in the open, you will more likely remain in an echo chamber with fewer routes to success.
It cannot be stressed enough just how important collaboration is toward achieving iKPI success and accountability, and toward creating the greatest impact collectively. An ideal result would be to see group iKPIs adopted between organizations, that connect along a direct industry supply chain; are based around the same values; have similar capacity or motivation for creating impact; or otherwise can pool their resources or talent to devise better solutions. If you agree, consider becoming a signatory to the Founder Institute’s Joint Pledge for Responsible Innovation, and definitely check out the Progress Planner fi.co/progress tool if you have not already.
For more examples of FI's own regularly updated and publicly displayed iKPIs, see FI.co/iKPI.
Case Study Example 1: Esusu
- Esusu (FI San Francisco) is a minority-owned rotational savings as well as credit-building fintech application.
- Esusu allows its users to pool and withdraw their money for bigger-ticket transactions, and even to track their rent payments through the application. These transactions and the fulfillment of users’ debt obligations are then automatically reported to credit bureaus, helping users to establish or improve their credit profiles.
- The company closed a $2.3M seed round in August 2020, announcing its plans to help address credit inequality. The startup’s public commitment to its mission, of empowering lower-income users to build credit, is central to success of the impact company’s recent fundraising.
- Esusu’s values are at the core of its product offering and its public messaging, helping the company establish a clear and differentiated identity among its peers of other fintech savings applications.
Case Study Example 2: DotX
- DotX (FI Silicon Valley) is a Jakarta-based payroll solution for unbanked, lower-wage workers.
- DotX allows employees without bank accounts to receive their salaries via direct deposit, instead of paying costly fees to cash paychecks. Purchases and other banking transactions can also be made directly using the mobile application.
- With a laser focus on Indonesia’s unbanked as its user base, the payroll solution can clearly and tangible measure its impact across various metrics, but also makes its mission and values central to its external marketing and customer acquisition strategies.
Next in this series on Implementing iKPIs and making impact work for startups, we will discuss best practices for honestly and periodically assessing your progress—measuring and publishing it, but also engaging in public with the metrics that matter most for your impact.
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, 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 #8 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.