1. FAQ

FAQ

What was your first memory about money?

What are your beliefs about money?

Thank you to everyone who helped to spread the word about and attended our three day training – Raise Capital on Your Own Terms – Build It, Fund It, Grow It!
At the training, we shared a combination of practical tools, legal and financial training, and exercises to help build the mindset needed to successfully raise funding. This was the first time we ever held a three-day virtual training and we had some bumps leading up to it, like my luggage being lost on the way to Baltimore, our event headquarters. But the event exceeded expectations and attendees gave very positive feedback!
Here is some of what they said:
“Incredible expertise in the room”
“I think it was done very well. I was surprised at how engaged people were for an online event!”
“Having the guidance of qualified, caring individuals like Jenny and Michelle, when you are trying to tackle raising capital, is invaluable.”
“The Kassan team provided the perfect balance of soul searching and spine building to move my project forward.”
“Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch are a dynamic duo unleashing a world of positive social and environmental impact through their work of helping entrepreneurs raise capital on their own terms.”

At the event we observed that almost all of our attendees had something in common: whether they were just starting out or have been running their business for years, money mindset played a big role in how they thought about raising money from investors.
I facilitated an exercise where we uncovered our beliefs about money, which you can watch here. We hope you find it helpful for your own journey!

Advancing Social Justice Through a Digital Communications Framework

Community Symbol Helps Entrepreneurs Make Powerful Impact Through Storytelling   

 

Martin Ricard is a community activist, journalist, and digital communications specialist. He is founder and chief content creator of Community Symbol, a digital communications service that works with mission-driven businesses and nonprofits committed to advancing racial equity and social justice.

In an increasingly polarized society, engaging people’s empathy is critical to making progress on complex issues. Martin specializes in storytelling — creating compelling content and an online presence for clients dedicated to social, political, and environmental causes. He helps these organizations build audiences and amplify their messages of diversity, inclusion, and hope.  

In this conversation, The Kassan Group founder Jenny Kassan talks with Martin about how Community Symbol is contributing to a more inclusive, regenerative economy.

 

Jenny Kassan: With technology constantly evolving, how do you stay true to your business’ foundational principles while also being flexible enough to meet the shifting challenges of the day?

 

Martin Ricard: My business is an Internet-first business for a reason. Everything is becoming much more integrated with the web and technology. The conversations and movements that start online are now influencing everything else in the real world, for example, what happened following the murder of George Floyd. At the same time, I realize the tools I’m using to help my clients grow their online presence might be outdated a few years from now. So I’m always trying to listen to the streets, especially those who are on the other side of town (i.e. liberals and conservatives), to figure out the best way to do storytelling that works for an always-changing 21st-century audience.

 

JK: Recent social movements aimed at equality have had a dramatic influence on business practices. Do you see that reflected within the social entrepreneurship space?  

 

MR: I’ve seen some real signs of hope by building connections within the social entrepreneurship space. One of the best examples of collaboration I’ve seen recently was the Shift conference I attended in 2021. It was organized by a lot of the same people who put on the SOCAP conference, but it was a smaller group of folks attending, there were a lot more people of color involved in organizing the event, and the organizers gave a wide variety of businesses equity in the event—which is something I’d never seen before. So by taking part in the efforts to promote the event and get people to participate in the conversations, we were all able to benefit from a social impact standpoint and a financial standpoint. That’s what a regenerative economy looks like to me.

 

JK: Your work supports changemakers who seek to make a direct, positive impact within neighborhoods and communities. To what extent is social entrepreneurship “borderless” in your view? 

 

MR: I can’t wait for the day that I get to work with a social entrepreneur from another country. I don’t think we realize how huge this movement is. Based on what I’ve seen, social entrepreneurship is popular in Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, South Korea, and a number of other non-U.S. countries. To me, that means social entrepreneurship is borderless because the issues (and the solutions) are universal. In all our countries, people have lost trust in the government and traditional institutions to fix the social, political, and environmental problems that are affecting our world. I truly believe that social entrepreneurs have the solutions that are needed to restore that trust and revive our hope in humanity.  

 

JK: What is your theme song as a social entrepreneur? 

 

MR: “Say Her Name (Hell You Talmbout)” by Janelle Monáe. 

 

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Martin Ricard has more than 15 years of media experience across the journalism, public relations and social media industries, and his expertise is in developing effective communications strategies that help entrepreneurs and changemakers build their teams, get funding and grow their audiences online. Martin received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and his master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Learn how Martin has helped other mission-driven businesses and nonprofits succeed at https://communitysymbol.com/case-study.

 

Episode 61: Gaining Confidence to Ask for an Investment

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, cohosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch share a method to boost your confidence to ask for investment.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for investors to fund your business, you may be struggling with making an ask. If you feel anxious about asking for money, know you’re not alone. These feelings are very common and can be addressed with an amazing and effective exercise that helps you step back from limiting beliefs. Says Michelle, “It’s your thoughts around this asking; that is the limitation.”

Self-doubt can have physical and mental ramifications that keep you from building connections and developing relationships with potential investors. These limiting beliefs “can impact how we’re showing up, and what energy we’re bringing to a situation.” In the episode, Jenny and Michelle offer an exercise to control these types of fears to keep you calm and focused when promoting your business and asking for an investment.

According to Jenny, “The best way to get over that fear is just to keep believing you can get the words out and then continue to learn from that process of doing it over again.” If you keep practicing, you’re sure to get more comfortable and improve. Practice and perseverance are key to making the ask. Listen to the full episode for more insights!

Subscribe to the Capital Insight podcast on your favorite streaming platform!

The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 60: Raising Capital Step Two: Identify the Right Investors

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, cohosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch explore the second step of designing your strategy to raise capital on your terms: identifying the right investors for your business.

According to Jenny Kassan, “This step requires the biggest shift in perspective for many people.” When you’re raising capital for your business, you don’t need to go the traditional route of “professional investors.” At the end of the day, anyone can be an investor. Shifting your mindset on this can help you raise the money you need — from investors who align with your business goals — more quickly and efficiently.

Jenny and Michelle recommend keeping an open mind when developing your capital-raising approach to help diversify your potential investor pool. When searching for potential investors, it’s important to consider that they likely share your values. “Your ideal investors probably have a lot in common with you,’ says Jenny. “They value a lot of the same things. That’s what’s going to make them want to invest.”

Once you start the work of thinking outside the box about who your ideal investors might be, opportunities will begin to present themselves. Listen to the full conversation below!

Curious to learn more? Sign up for our free email series and discover the 6 steps to finding values-aligned investors to help you achieve your goals! Sign up here!

Subscribe to the Capital Insight podcast on your favorite streaming platform! 

 

Catch up on our latest episodes!

The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Episode 59: Convertible Income Share Agreements with Will Stringer

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, hosts Jenny and Michelle chat with Will Stringer, Founder of Chisos Capital, about the innovative tool he’s developed to help entrepreneurs raise capital.

When starting an investment company in 2019, Will wanted to present a creative new way for entrepreneurs to get funding and for investors to contribute. He pioneered Convertible Income Share Agreements (CISA) and launched Chisos Capital. These unique terms are designed for companies that need more flexibility than what the venture capital model allows.

In this episode, he shares with Jenny and Michelle how people initially reacted to this new innovative investment model and how he adjusted the marketing for it to appeal to investors. “We had to hone in our story to be this debt-equity hybrid that is totally different. We started leading with, ‘You’ve probably never heard of anything like this: we’re investing in people.’”

According to Will, at least 70% of the investments his company has made are in underrepresented business owners. You don’t have to be on the venture capital path to receive an investment. Listen to the episode to learn more.

Will Stringer is co-founder and CEO of Chisos, an early-stage alternative investment company utilizing a Convertible Income Share Agreement to invest at the earliest stages of business ideation and formation. Will is responsible for the creation of the Convertible Income Share Agreement, development of the underwriting and diligence criteria, fundraising, financial planning and general operations of the company. Will is an angel investor and advisor to multiple early-stage companies. From October 2018 to January 2020, Will was an advisor to a global payments company working to digitize gold and bring transparency to the gold supply chain. From 2015-2019, Will worked on the investment team at Cockrell Interests, a single-family office based in Texas. He managed all phases of illiquid investment execution including sourcing, diligence and ongoing portfolio management. Prior to Cockrell, Will was an Analyst in the Energy Investment Banking Group of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Subscribe to the Capital Insight podcast on your favorite streaming platform! 

 

Catch up on our latest episodes!

The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Building an Inclusive Workforce with Second-Chance Hiring

Working Fields Offers a Path to Employment and Confidence to Formerly Incarcerated People and Those in Recovery 

 

Mickey Wiles is the CEO and Founder of Working Fields, a mission-driven staffing agency that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment — such as substance use disorder, criminal justice system involvement, resource challenges, or work history gaps — and build stable futures. A U.S. Navy veteran, Mickey has worked in leadership roles at Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Burlington Labs, and served as Executive Director of Turning Point Center of Chittenden County, Vermont. Mickey is a person in long-term recovery and was provided a second chance after spending time in federal prison. 

For the last 18 years, Mickey has dedicated himself to helping others who need a second chance after addiction and/or criminal convictions. By collaborating with businesses across Vermont and New Hampshire, Working Fields has fostered a community of recovery-friendly workplaces that treat people in recovery or those with past convictions as they would treat anyone else.

In this conversation, The Kassan Group founder Jenny Kassan chats with Mickey about how Working Fields is contributing to the development of an inclusive, regenerative economy.

 

Jenny Kassan: How do you stay true to your business’ foundational principles while also being flexible enough to meet the shifting challenges of the day?

 

Mickey Wiles: Our foundational principles are reflected in our company values: love, humility, honesty, equity in action, stability, and gratitude. Our team keeps these values front and center by focusing every two months on the continued development of a different value. Our leadership team, which meets weekly and addresses the issues and challenges of a changing environment, always considers the company’s values in making company decisions. We embrace change, flexibility, and agility as long as we also always challenge ourselves to make decisions consistent with our values.

 

JK: Your company helps foster healthy and resilient communities. As we face large-scale challenges on a global scale, to what extent do you consider social entrepreneurship “borderless” and to what extent do solutions need to be localized? 

 

MW: Social entrepreneurship means placing people, planet, and prosperity for all at the core of business. These principles apply across the board regardless of where we operate. If we collectively operate with other like-minded businesses, then our reach is borderless. However, with this as the premise, our challenges are to be inclusive and take into consideration all individuals, recognizing that different societal groups have different needs and practices. As we expand and serve communities and varied groups of people, we need to always be aware of these differences.

 

JK: How do you see the practices and core values of your business as distinct from the “business as usual” status quo? What do you do to resist the pressure to “fit in” to the old economy paradigms?

 

MW: Avoiding “business as usual” is not a difficult task for us as our mission and vision are so different from other organizations in our space. When we remain true to our mission, we automatically are not operating as “business as usual.” We have faced situations that raise questions in light of our company values. In that case, we invite everyone in the organization to discuss the opportunity and the pros and cons. We gain input from everyone to ensure we hear all arguments. Then we make a decision based on that input and the leadership team’s assessment.

 

JK: Who inspires you in the social impact world and what is the one question you’d like to ask them?

 

MW: I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from three fantastic leaders in the social impact world. I first worked for Ben & Jerry’s when social impact businesses were not as common as they are today. Both Ben and Jerry led us to not accept the status quo and to challenge every decision we made to ensure it took into account our “triple bottom line” (that’s how we referred to social impact business). My next mentor was Jeffrey Hollender at Seventh Generation. His leadership demonstrated that there was an additional level of impact businesses can have on the world. I would ask all of them the same question: If you had to do it over again, what would you change and how would you counsel your younger self?

 

ABOUT MICKEY WILES

Mickey Wiles is the CEO and Founder of Working Fields, a mission-driven staffing agency that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment — such as substance use disorder, justice involvement, resource challenges, or work history gaps — and build stable futures. 

Mickey has had a long career in the private sector business community where he held various leaderships roles starting with a Boston high tech firm, Microcom, Inc. In Vermont he continued in leadership roles with Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and Burlington Labs. Mickey also held the position of Executive Director at the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County. Prior to starting his business career, Mickey served six years in the United States Navy.

Mickey is a person in long term recovery and was provided a second chance after spending time in Federal Prison. For the last 18 years, Mickey has dedicated his work to helping others who want a second chance after addiction and/or criminal convictions. Mickey is on the Board and Executive Committee of VBSR, the nation’s first business association of businesses for social responsibility. Mickey is also President of Vermont Roots & Wings Alliance, an organization dedicated to supporting the drug court system and participants in Vermont. 

 

ABOUT WORKING FIELDS

Working Fields is a mission-driven staffing agency that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment — such as substance use disorder, justice involvement, resource challenges, or work history gaps — and build stable futures. 

We don’t just place people in jobs: Our model includes robust, personalized support for workers. Every Working Fields associate benefits from direct account management, ongoing peer recovery or life coaching, and coordinated support from community partners. These services enable our associates to get and keep the jobs they want, while helping employers realize the potential of these dedicated workers. 

We work closely with community partners, particularly social service agencies, across Vermont and in Manchester, New Hampshire, to identify individuals in need of supportive employment services. These referrals have enabled us to help over 1,300 jobseekers since 2017.  

 

 

Episode 58: Raising Capital for Co-ops with Greg Brodsky

In this Capital Insight Podcast episode, hosts Jenny and Michelle chat with Greg Brodsky, Founder and Co-Director of Start.coop, an accelerator for shared ownership companies. Greg shares his journey raising capital for co-ops and his focus on promoting socially just business funding.

Greg shares what he loves about the co-op model: “People are able to tackle really unique social problems, and do it through a cooperative solution that expands voice to people who typically don’t have a voice, and expands financial return to people who might be coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

His extensive experience in the space has helped him identify a key challenge for these businesses: struggling to raise capital. “For cooperatives, it’s a real missing gap in the ecosystem,” says Greg. “Some of the business models we see are fantastic. If they were just a regular corporation looking for investors in Silicon Valley, it might be really easy for them. But because cooperatives are not designed to IPO or to sell in five years to Google or Amazon, it’s harder to raise the capital.”

To address this challenge, Greg’s company created the Equitable Economy Fund, a small impact fund available to accelerator participants. “We may not be able to cut the biggest check, but if we can act like the lead investor and work with the entrepreneur to come up with the right term sheet, then it’s easier for them to go out to other people and say, ‘Look, now we have a structure and our first investor.’ We’re giving them a little bit of guidance and the confidence that there are people that want to invest in these models.”

His company also works to educate investors on the benefit of working with these unique businesses. He emphasizes the importance of connecting with potential investors on a personal level, ensuring they understand not just the monetary value, but the social return of their investment. Listen to the full episode below to learn more about Greg’s work.

Greg is the Founder and Co-Director of Start.coop, which is the nation’s premier accelerator for shared ownership companies. Greg brings a powerful background of financial strategy, tech, and entrepreneurship. Greg’s work has ranged from business development to strategic planning for multiple cooperatives. Prior to launching Start.coop, Greg founded and led the Bike Cooperative, a division of CCA Global Partners, and also helped to launch the nation’s only purchasing co-op for craft breweries. Greg also previously served on the board of the Cooperative Development Institute for 10 years and was board chair for 3 years. Greg also convenes the Equitable Economy Fund, an impact fund convening angel investors who are interested in shared ownership.

Subscribe to the Capital Insight podcast on your favorite streaming platform! 

 

Catch up on our latest episodes!

The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

The Evolution of Investment Crowdfunding, and Where We Go from Here

In 2009, I got together with Janelle Orsi to cofound a new nonprofit called Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC).  The mission of SELC was to bring legal knowledge and support to those who are working to make our economy regenerative, healthy, just, and sustainable.

One of the very first things we tackled was securities law.  Having worked with many small businesses that lacked access to capital, we knew that a change to the law that would make it easier for small businesses to raise funding from their communities, customers, and fans could have a major positive impact for our small disadvantaged businesses.

We wrote a petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 which got the attention of small business advocates, members of Congress, and eventually, the White House.  Amazingly enough, a new law was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2012 that legalized investment crowdfunding at the national level.

It took four years for the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt rules so that this new law could actually be used. 

We were hopeful that this was the silver bullet we had been waiting for to finally move significant funding into the hands of Main Street businesses and social ventures, especially those owned and run by entrepreneurs who have been almost completely locked out of mainstream finance (e.g. women, people of color, etc.).

The results so far have been mixed.  There is still a lot more that needs to be done for federal investment crowdfunding to fulfill its promise as an equalizer of opportunity.

Check out my talk on this topic at SuperCrowd22.

Episode 57: The First Step In Raising Capital: Clarify Your Goals and Values

In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, cohosts Jenny Kassan and Michelle Thimesch explore the first step of raising capital on your own terms: clarifying your goals and values.

When raising capital, identifying your business values will help you target the right investors and lay out terms that make the most sense for you and your business’s mission. Jenny notes the importance of always planning for the future of your business, referring to each step as a “seed” that will help grow your business to its full potential: “You’re planting seeds all the time — everything you do in your business is planting seeds for the future.”

Knowing your goals and values from the start will help you stick to them as you grow your business. It’s the best way to keep your mission intact. Michelle states, “It’s not just the money — it’s the right money from the right investors that helps you succeed.”

Plan out the future of your business carefully to ensure you can reap positive results later, and remember that your values should always be non-negotiable when searching for funding options.

Curious to learn more? Sign up for our free email series and discover the 6 steps to finding values-aligned investors to help you achieve your goals! Sign up here!

Subscribe to the Capital Insight podcast on your favorite streaming platform! 

 

Catch up on our latest episodes!

 

The Capital Insight podcast intro and outro is voiced by Marina Verlaine. She can be contacted at reel.peach.vo@gmail.com

Building a Strategy to Fund Your Business On Your Terms

In this video, The Kassan Group founder Jenny Kassan outlines six important steps to designing your fundraising strategy.

Funding is an essential element of starting a business, but figuring out the best way to acquire it can be challenging, especially for mission-driven entrepreneurs who don’t want to give up their values to get their business off the ground.

In this video, Kassan Group founder, Jenny Kassan discusses her six-step process for raising capital without selling your soul. According to Jenny and her team, “The way you raise money should be consistent with what’s important to you and your business.”

These six pillars will lay down the proper foundation for your business to succeed while keeping your mission intact. This process consists of defining your goals and values; identifying your ideal investors; designing your offer; choosing your legal compliance strategy; creating an effective investor enrollment strategy; and addressing potential obstacles. Learn more about building the six pillars of your fundraising strategy in the following video.

The Kassan Group is planning a three-day virtual training to take a deep dive into these steps. If you’re looking for guidance on building a fundraising plan for your business in a way that meets your values, join us! Register for the event November 2-4 at JennyKassan.com/FundIt