The California Bay Area has a well-developed impact investing ecosystem. But trace any one initiative, and chances are it will lead back to Kristin Hull. A Bay Area native and former educator, Hull drew on her insights from education, grad school and the family investment business to become an influential voice and leader in the impact field. She is a founder of HUB Oakland, an angel investor and an outspoken champion of women and entrepreneurs of color. We spoke recently with Kristin about her multi-pronged approach to investing for change.
How has your investment philosophy evolved?
In the beginning, in 2007 when I first started on a mission for impact, I was really just trying to get the money out into the “good stuff,” as Joel Solomon [of Renewal Partners] calls it. But then, as I got going, and especially when I got toward the target of being fully invested, there were two things that were epiphanies for me:
1) If I did less private equity and started structuring investments as loans, I might actually have more impactful results. I’d have more liquidity and the entrepreneurs could keep more ownership of their companies. I’ve definitely been rethinking terms sheets for sure. I’m also looking at what exit strategies can look like and how to keep the impact growing as companies mature.
2) I just can’t invest in any more white men unless they’re part of a diverse team. They’re already getting the money. Knowing that women receive less that 4% of venture capital and people of color just 1%, that is the most meaningful and impactful place for me to invest.
Of your portfolio, how much is women and people of color?
Every investment from the last few years is women and people of color. I did invest in Better Ventures led by two white males—they’re great tenants of our co-working space Impact HUB Oakland. I didn’t have any venture funds in the Nia community portfolio, and if you’re trying to have a sample/example portfolio, you’ve got to have funds. They’re putting that diversity lens on now when they think about who they invest in.
Read the full interview about impact investing by Amy Cortese at Locavesting.
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