What was your first job?
Cattle wrangling! From about 10 years old, I worked on mum’s farm in rural NSW helping her run an organic beef operation. We don’t run cattle any longer, but I have fond memories of horseback mustering, working in nature, and dodging cow pats (translate: poo).
When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business?
I didn’t want to work in finance until I found out about Giant Leap.
When I started my MBA in 2017, I only wanted to build skills to work with early-stage founders (or be a founder) and I believed that a career in finance meant you had to sell your soul. When I learnt I could both work with founders and leverage finance for soulful outcomes, I was immediately interested.
When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing?
The first time I saw the term “Impact Investing” was in 2018 when I was reading through the position description for Giant Leap. It’s hard to believe now, but even just a few years ago it seemed like the impact investing concept was not popularly understood at all.
What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline?
We have a pipeline of tools such as our recently released impact calculator that we’ll continue sharing to help accelerate the development of the impact venture and startup space. This will all be leading up to our next Impact Benchmark Report, due in 2023 (check out the 2021 report here).
What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Asia/Pacific) in the past 12 months?
Lumi Interactive, which developed a therapeutic game where users care for virtual houseplants by performing real-world mindfulness tasks, raising $6.75m USD from VCs including the international powerhouse a16z and local seed investor Galileo Ventures.
It’s fascinating both because of the top-tier international interest signalling the quality of Australian impact opportunities, and because digital therapeutic gaming is such an intriguing impact area – did you know that researchers have found that playing Tetris helped people process car crash trauma?
Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on?
Change Foods is a US-based company founded by Australian and NZ founders that could flip the cheese industry. They’ve developed a precision fermentation process using microbes to produce animal-free cheese proteins with 5x less energy and 10x less water on 100x less land. Importantly, they’ll be able to produce the cheeses we all love such as mozzarella and cheddar much more cheaply than the dairy industry once at scale, making the choice to go animal-free a no-brainer!
What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time
By 2028 I’d like to see the proportion of investment dollars linked to a recognised impact framework double from 40% to over 80%, with a large portion linked to deep impact outcomes beyond just avoiding harm.
I strongly believe the most promising areas for deep impact are in impact startups scaling new solutions to our biggest problems, so I hope that we’ll see continued outsized growth of impact VC, which could crack $100b invested this year.
Giant Leap is an impact venture capital fund backing founders solving the world;’s most pressing challenges. Charlie joined Giant Leap in 2018 as an Analyst and was recently promoted to Investment Manager, where he’ll be working deeply on making investments into new impact startups and supporting the portfolio, which has grown to over 25 companies.