How can a startup become an impact unicorn?

1/ The term impact has flourished in the field of engagement and entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs claim to be impactful. But what does that really mean?

The impact is on everyone’s lips, financers, public authorities, companies and public opinion. However, there is no consensus on what the impact is on the business world, no shared will, no common ambition. And in light of the social and ecological emergency, defining impact is a matter of ambition. It is also a matter of evidence, because there is only evidence of impact.

Alongside this trend, the expected methods of extra-financial reporting are changing, whether on the initiative of public authorities, standardization bodies or even financial agents. In addition, experiments are being carried out in companies to integrate social and environmental capital into accounting tools… companies.

That’s why Impact Tank took advantage of the Summer Universities of Tomorrow’s Economy to call for a “New impact deal”, for public and private decision-makers to come together around common definitions of impact. companies’ social commitment and impact measurement, by proposing shared references to harmonize practices and decision-making and increase society’s performance. The world of finance has done this work, led by Finance for Tomorrow with the support of the Ministry of Economy: financial actors have adopted a definition of impact finance and are building common tools. Other actors in the real economy, companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs, must do the same.

2/ Who are impact entrepreneurs? In what areas do they evolve?

Impact entrepreneurs are all those who propose to satisfy a social or environmental need and who, for that purpose, direct all their activity towards their mission of social and/or ecological utility. Your industries are changing, which is excellent news. Historically, these companies tend to be in the medical-social, professional integration or education sectors, but now they are investing in the environment or in the digital sectors in particular, such as Reconnect, which has developed a digital vault capable of keeping the administrative environment digitalized documents of people in a precarious situation.

In addition to the sectors of activity, I believe in a new dimension of partnership to incline the economy towards more impact, which brings together all the actors of the social and solidarity economy, associations and impact entrepreneurs, but also the actors of the “classic” company and private investment. . We will also launch a movement with Impact Tank, the “Team France for social innovation”, to stimulate this national dynamic in favor of collaborations in the service of impact…

At the local level, of course, initiatives are being created, namely with the social joint venture model, but they are still very rare, and would benefit from being federated and accompanied by innovative incentive mechanisms. I am thinking, for example, of Lemon Aide, created by Lemon Tri, an SSE company, in partnership with Danone and the Fondation Agir contre l’Exclusion (FACE), which ensures the collection and disposal of waste by recruiting people away from employment.

3/ How to develop and measure the impact of a company? What are the tools?

First, an impact strategy must be established in response to a societal need. This means that the company identifies a social or environmental need and the levers that generate impact in relation to its global strategy, considering its entire value chain. The company prioritizes its activities and establishes objectives and indicators based on the effects sought, as well as on comparative data, limits or recognized socio-environmental standards. It must then concretely formalize its theory of change, in order to integrate the intention to make an impact at each level of the company, to make the structuring of the impact approach.

There are many tools and methods to measure the impact between qualitative, statistical and monetary approaches, etc. All of them should allow transparent monitoring, in order to choose relevant data and indicators (context, baseline, monitoring, comparison), establish their own repository or consult existing repositories or even shared by sectors, but also plan and organize the collection. of data.

Ultimately, the success of a business impact measurement depends on the involvement of all governance. It will make it possible to better interpret the results and deepen the impact assessment process, carrying out an inventory of missing data and the processes to be implemented to collect them, using new specialists, involving stakeholders in monitoring…

4/ How can a start-up become an impact unicorn?

Few impact companies have entered the unicorn category, those startups less than ten years old valued at more than a billion dollars. But there, too, it is a matter of definition and ambition. To define the unicorn, the valuation of a company is calculated according to its economic potential for shareholders. It does not take into account the social and environmental benefits generated. The ambition is to define a new measurement methodology and new criteria to qualify “impact unicorns”. This is a work started by Mouvement Impact France alongside BCG and which we are following closely.

According to a recent study released with IPSOS, the main obstacles to the development of impact unicorns are access to private funding, although they have grown considerably in the last ten years, collaborations with large groups, as this requires a minimum size that impacts companies do not always achieve, and state incentives.

This is the challenge of the “Team France for social innovation” that we are launching, to inspire a real political and economic priority. La French Tech, which enabled the development of 25 French unicorns, was created in 2014 by a convergence of desires to make France a leader in technology and the systems followed (status as an innovative young company, innovation of tax credits, etc.). We need to create this desire to make France the leader in impact in Europe and the world and the guarantor of consensus on its definition and measurement.

Leave a Comment