For Laura Scott, last year’s VC Catalyst couldn’t have come at a better time. It coincided with the close of Save the Children’s first Fund, and as she writes, helped her refine her investment thesis and gain a better understanding of her place in the Australian investment landscape.
At Save the Children, we launched our Impact Investment Fund in 2020 and reached the first Fund close right before the VC Catalyst (VCC) program began. It couldn’t have been better timing to get stuck into the nitty gritty of assessing investments, to debate the pros and cons of various investment theses with our diverse cohort, and also be part of some big picture discussions about VC trends and the landscape in Australia. Having had some time to reflect on the course and kicking off 2021 with our Fund’s first investment, has helped remind me what an amazing experience the VCC program was.
Finding our place in the investment landscape
I’m now far more aware of the landscape of investors and how all those pieces need to fit together. From what I learned in those few weeks, I’ve been thinking really carefully about Save the Children’s strengths as an investor, where we are best suited to investing, and also who might invest before and after us. Gaining an understanding of the investment pipeline for founders gives really helpful context for me to have top of mind when I’m meeting with founders, and means we can also play a role in helping founders find the best investors long-term.
The importance of having aligned investors on a cap table
VCC also helped me realise how important it is for founders to have investors that are on the same page. On the course, we heard strong examples of seed investors being misaligned with Series A investors which caused even more unwanted stress for founders in an already challenging time of building and growing their business and raising capital. We also heard some wonderful examples of when it works well for both founders and investors. When we’re looking at companies now, an important step in our due diligence processes has been talking to existing investors and potential co-investors early in the process. It’s so important for founders to have that alignment with investors, even though every investor will have their own strengths and areas where they can support the company.
Access to great mentors accelerates learning and access to opportunities
The course has an impressive network of mentors, which has enabled me to have chats with some of the best VCs and founders in Australia. The Save the Children Fund is unique in many ways, so it’s great to have the chance to tell others about our journey and the reasons for establishing an impact investment fund while also building my own network. Learning more about what drives other investors and the similarities and differences in our investment strategies also gives me a broader and more diverse set of perspectives to bring to my own conversations with founders and potentially a whole lot of other people. The structure of the mentoring part of the course has been wonderful in creating that space for a quick conversation without a specific pitch or ask.
The journey ahead
Navigating the investment space and leading this new Fund in Australia can be overwhelming at times. The opportunity to complete VCC just as we were beginning our Fund journey has been instrumental in connecting me to the best thinking and a wonderful cohort of like-minded but incredibly diverse investors. The experience of testing and refining my investment thesis alongside these investors means I’m now much more focused on investing Save the Children’s Fund in the most strategic way for us, for founders, and as part of a growing and diverse investment landscape in Australia.
Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.