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Impact-focused investor Zinc closes first fund with $34M to tackle societal issues

Image credits: Zinc

Zinc, the London-based investor building new tech companies that solve the developed world’s toughest social issues is today announcing the close of a new £28M($34M) fund. The VC is exclusively an early-stage investor backing mission-driven talent, pre-team & pre-idea to build sustainable & impactful global businesses.

The fund has been primarily backed by the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme which supports new and emerging VC fund managers targeting the early stage equity gap. Other investors featuring in this round include Big Society Capital, Isomer, Molten Ventures, Dunhill Medical Trust, family offices and Anthemis Group. The financing round also involved some of Europe’s most successful tech entrepreneurs and early-stage investors such as Supercell’s co-founder Illka Paannan Taavet Hinrikus from Taaven+Sten, Basecamp, Sarah Wood and Stuart Roden, among others.

Zinc’s investing philosophy

Since its founding in 2017 by Ella Goldner, Paul Kirby and Saul Klein, Zinc has backed over 200 entrepreneurs and helped them to build over 60 ventures. Each of its venture builder programmes houses 70 entrepreneurs aligned to at least one of Zinc’s four missions: improving mental health, protecting our natural environment, improving the quality of elderly life and assisting people impacted by automation and globalisation. The London-based early investor aims at tethering commercial success to the social impact offered by its startups.

Some of Zinc’s noteworthy investments include Vira Health, a menopause support platform; Tandem which facilitates transportation for low-earning workers in small cities and towns; Pexxi which delivers personalised contraception pills; Untangle, a support system for the grief-stricken and Beanbag, a support platform for eating disorders, among many more.

in its most recent venture builder programme, Zinc-backed founders are over 50% women & 15% of colour, with an average age of 38.

Solving the world’s challenges

The VC’s new fund targets to back 500 diverse entrepreneurs, assisting them in creating brand-new ventures from scratch and investing in 100 of the ventures they create. The individuals picked by Zinc to build new businesses join a team of up to 70 people who all share the same mission. They will have access to a 12-month programme of support and investment.

An example; The most recent programme had 68 individuals passionate about improving the mental health of children and the young. The Zinc programme gave the team the opportunity to find a co-founder, access expert support, build a product and gather financial investment. Zinc will invest up to £250k in each of the companies founded.

Big Society Capital’s MD, Douglas Sloan, expressed his excitement in backing Zinc, sighting, “We have been impressed by their commitment to solving big societal problems, their ability to attract such a calibre group of diverse individuals and their innovative approach to achieve social impact outcomes combined with top tier commercial returns.”

Zinc’s co-founder Paul Kirkby explained this, “Each mission unites people who care deeply about the same unsolved problem, cutting across the traditional silos (by industry, profession and private/public/charity) which get in the way of innovation. The mission-led approach has not only attracted brilliant entrepreneurs, with thousands of people willing to quit their job and join the Zinc programme. It also attracts fantastic experts and partner organisations who are equally passionate about the mission and want to help the entrepreneurs succeed. Each of our programmes has 100 Visiting Fellows and an extensive network of partners”.

The Zinc 2 Fund will back seven of Zinc’s venture builder programmes, investing in 100 of the businesses they create. The first programme is focused on children’s and young people’s mental health. The next programme will commence in October 2022, with 70 founders all focused on B2B solutions that’ll help transform the industries that have had the most impact on our environmental crisis.

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