How Affinity improves deal sourcing and management for Shaping Impact Group
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Shaping Impact Group is an impact investment fund based in the Netherlands. The firm is focused on investing in companies that are mission-driven, with an emphasis on both societal and business impact.
The firm struggled with the volume of manual work associated with capturing and storing contacts and follow-up activities related to deal sourcing. They also needed to manage a wide network of existing relationships with their portfolio companies, co-investors, VC firms, and other contacts who share potential investment opportunities.
With Affinity CRM, Shaping Impact Group was able to immediately sync their entire network and current and historical activity in one location. This ensures deal sourcing can be done transparently and eliminates the risk of redundancy when communicating with the fund’s broader network.
Affinity enables Shaping Impact Group to:
- Capture and retain all contacts, meetings, and interactions in one place
- Track deal sourcing in a structured way, clearly outlining completed actions and what need to still be done
- Use tags and other filters to send targeted mailings around co-investment opportunities and shareholder events to the relevant audiences
Missed opportunities and connections
In the private capital world, profitability and scalability are key factors that influence investment decisions. In impact investing, there is an added layer of the social impact a company can have on the greater good.
“Every dollar or euro that you invest has three dimensions; it doesn't only generate a financial return or a financial loss, with a smaller or larger risk, it can create a positive impact or a negative impact,” said Pieter Oostlander, the Founding Partner and Impact Fund Manager at Shaping Impact Group.
Founded in 2010, Shaping Impact Group is a Netherlands-based impact investment fund manager that specializes in impact investing and impact-advisory work, while also maintaining a community of shareholders and founders with similar interests.
The firm manages three funds, each of which emphasizes the societal impact made by portfolio companies equally or sometimes even more than the financial return. Says Oostlander, “You're looking for companies that have a true impact or lockstep model where they’re making a societal impact that is completely integrated into the business model.”
The firm relies on their network and external events such as conferences and startup competitions to surface potential opportunities and co-investors Unfortunately, Shaping Impact Group didn’t always have easy visibility into those opportunities. “Sourcing was an activity that required a lot of manual work around it,” Oostlander explains. The firm constantly had to make sure follow-up activities were completed after attending events and had no easy way to see who had sent what communications to their network. They risked losing investment opportunities and important contacts if a person left the firm or switched to another opportunity.
Adding structure to deal sourcing
Since implementing Affinity in 2022, Shaping Impact Group’s deal sourcing and deal flow management has significantly improved. “Affinity offers a lot of structure to deal sourcing and prevents contacts from getting lost,” says Oostlander.
By syncing the firm’s contacts, emails, and overall activity in one place, Shaping Impact Group can now more effectively manage their deal sourcing and investment process. “It's much easier to keep track of what has been done and what still needs to be done,” Oostlander shares, which helps the fund ultimately reduce the risk of losing important interactions and context when personnel changes occur.
In addition to having individual investors, Shaping Impact Group will often co-invest with other impact funds and sometimes traditional VC firms. By using Affinity, the firm can harness the power of its network to target specific contacts and easily maintain connections. Oostlander mentions, "We have found that collaborating with traditional venture capital firms often leads to sourcing impactful companies that might not meet typical VC standards but align with our societal impact goals."
Because Shaping Impact Group’s investment strategy is so network-driven, Affinity has been instrumental in helping surface opportunities that align with their strategy. “Our networks know better than the average outsider what types of companies we are looking for, and with Affinity, we can more strongly use our network for deal sourcing, with targeted mailings or targeted contacts.”
Matching investment opportunities with like-minded individuals
The investors that work with Shaping Impact Group are often tied to a certain vertical that they want to invest in specifically, such as ed-tech, social-tech or health and care-innovations. Affinity allows the team to tag and filter companies and contacts based on those interests to create hyper-targeted email lists and event invite campaigns. “A couple of times a year we organize events for shareholders and portfolio companies, as well as a circle of brands or network of people that are interested in investing,” Oostlander shares, “With Affinity, we are better at finding the right people that are interested and also keeping track of who is interested in what verticals.”
A CRM that scales with the fund
With the Affinity platform, Shaping Impact Group has improved their deal sourcing process and network management, allowing them to make more informed investment decisions in companies with positive societal impact.
Now the team is looking at other opportunities to implement Affinity. The firm has already built out press lists for their communications regarding investment and portco updates, but is also exploring the use of Affinity in the event of crisis communication, which would help the firm minimize overall risk. Says Oostlander, “It can help surface the links that are necessary or the people that you want to inform in case something goes wrong or there’s a potential negative press release so that you can try and get to the right people beforehand.”
With impact investing growing among the private capital community, Shaping Impact Group can continue to grow and scale knowing Affinity will help them strategically capture and organize all their contacts, and match investors to opportunities. “Affinity offers the opportunity to find the right people,” says Oostlander. “Our deal sourcing and deal flow management has significantly improved since we implemented Affinity.”