Rachel is Partner at Giant Leap, a venture capital fund that invests in founders solving our most pressing global problems at scale across climate, health, empowerment, and education. With a portfolio list of over 30 companies strong, the team has honed its craft, focusing on alignment with founders seeking global impact and commercial opportunities at scale.

‘We back mission-driven founders solving the world’s most pressing problems.’

Giant Leap is Australia’s first venture capital fund 100% dedicated to investing in impact startups. Its predominant attention is focused on four core areas: climate, health, empowerment, and education.

As a Partner at Giant Leap, Rachel Yang shares that the team looks for and speaks to founders doing their life’s work every day. A life’s work that has the potential to create massive impact at scale, globally.

‘I’m focused on ensuring our portfolio companies are connected with customers and other investors and have access to the right strategic advice to achieve the greatest impact at commercial scale.’

‘But on a broader level, I’m telling the world that solving big problems also creates big commercial opportunities, and you don’t have to trade one off for the other’

‘Founders often contact us because they know we care about their vision.’

‘When impact is embedded in the business model, the ability to scale it sees every dollar of revenue as critical to create a unit of impact down the line, no matter what that business might be’ continues Rachel.

A sweep of the Giant Leap portfolio illustrates the impact focus clearly. Still, it is one additional factor that is referenced often by Rachel, which carries an extra weight of importance:

‘Understanding both the impact and the commercial side is important, as founders seek us out because of that alignment. Even in the most recent State of Australian Startup Funding Report, it was reported that alignment with vision is most important to founders when establishing relationships with investors, ‘ explains Rachel.

So, looking at the Giant Leap portfolio itself, a company that thinks about impact at a commercial scale might look like:

  • A waterless skincare brand with the world’s first plastic-free dissolvable makeup wipe (Conserving Beauty)
  • A company using maggots to process waste, and with every dollar of revenue, diverting waste from landfills in the process (Goterra)
  • Mobile hypnotherapy programmes helping people to manage chronic conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or to quit smoking, etc. (Mindset Health)
  • A (well-known) toilet paper brand that is good for the planet, good for your bum and helping with sanitisation projects around the developing world, so people get access to clean water and sanitation. (Who Gives A Crap)
  • A platform that help women find work that works for them (Work180)

‘Nos are a difficult part of our role.’

In building that alignment with a number of impact-focused founders doing their life’s work to solve significant problems, no’s are a certainty.

‘We want these companies to keep going, but when we say no, it’s not because we don’t believe in the business, idea, or founder. The reality is that we invest in less than 1% of the opportunities we see, and we’re seeing at least 1500 deals a year.’

‘The number of investments we can make is minimal compared to the no’s we have to deliver. But it’s tough, and we encourage founders not to take it personally and to think of the no’s as something they can use to help the next conversation with investors.’

‘We like to share knowledge so that impact becomes mainstream.’

According to Rachel, the ideal state would be not to need to say impact investment anymore, as that would mean impact has become the standard. 

Giant Leap spends significant time and resources producing content such as newsletters, Diversity Statistics Reports, Impact Benchmark Reports, and more. All to aid its mission of attracting the impact-focused founders it seeks.

‘We deliver this content so others can see and hear the opportunity. We often get asked the same questions, so if we can be helpful and share that knowledge with others, we think all boats will rise.’

‘I’ve always looked for a way to have an impact with my work.’

Rachel’s journey to the venture capital world was something of a happy accident. Opportunities from education led to management consulting and government advisory, where Rachel was particularly inspired to make a difference at the structural and policy levels.

‘I experienced some red tape and slow movement in my government and policy work, then again in corporate finance and major infrastructure project transactions. I knew there was a tangible impact to deliver, but it would all take a long time.’

Having also started a not-for-profit to raise funds and awareness for motor neuron disease (MND), roads eventually led to Giant Leap, where Rachel’s experience merged into a mission that truly fit.

‘It’s changed my perspective on the world because now, through my work at Giant Leap, I see that it is possible not to trade off impact for returns and that the greatest opportunities lie with solving the world’s most pressing problems.’