Ask Me Anythings
August 6, 2022

Faye Walsh Drouillard, Founder & General Partner at WakeUp Capital

Faye is passionate about harnessing the power of philanthropy, investing, and entrepreneurship to create sustainable social and environmental impact.  She is an active donor, consultant, investor and catalyst for change.

After moving to Europe from the US, she founded the Giving Circles of Amsterdam and Ireland, whose aim is to democratize giving and engage a new generation of philanthropists. In Los Angeles, she served as Executive Director of the Freedom Writers Foundation and now provides strategy, management and fundraising guidance to social enterprise, start-up and philanthropy clients.

Faye believes impact investing is inevitable and is a member of EBAN Impact and HBAN.  She is a board member of Philanthropy Ireland and The Community Foundation for Ireland and a member of the Ashoka Support Network.  She holds a B.A. (University of Washington) and an MBA (UCLA Anderson School).

What type of measurable impacts excite you when you look at target investment opportunities?
What type of businesses (eg tech s/w and h/w, or also Med devices etc etc) and at what stage does Wake Up Capital (“WUC”) invest? what is typical ticket/round size?

I am enthusiastic about measurable impacts that demonstrate legacy and existing industries are evolving to be more sustainable and inclusive.  We focus specifically on overall behaviour change and impact, versus just outputs of a product or service.   Impacts can include a previously overlooked and under-represented segment of the market accessing health, financial or education services because existing products previously excluded them   - such as people with disabilities accessing fin tech services, couples able to access affordable at home fertility services, or communities able to access affordable and efficient renewable energy solutions as a few examples.   Each investment we look at we use a set of impact analysis tools to identify 3-5 impact KPIs (could be a wide range such as carbon captured, renewable energy created, volume of waste diverted from landfill, among 400+ others) that are embedded in the business model and have the highest likelihood of scaling as the business scales.   We are IMP practitioners s and employ a range of tools, such as  Theory of Change, IRIS+ metrics, SASB systems in our analysis.

In terms of WakeUp Capital’s target investments: B2B tech-enabled solutions across sustainable production and consumption - including agtech, foodtech, circular economy and renewable energy solutions.  For inclusive services, we look at health equity - remote diagnostics, wellness and femtech solutions and inclusive fintech, edtech and future of work solutions.  Seed up to pre-Series A.  Ticket size €250-750K.  We look at both hard and soft technologies, but not devices that have long regulatory hurdles or massive capex requirements.

What advantages does Ireland (people/place/regulatory?) have for impact investing versus other countries? Are there any types of impact opportunities that you feel are underrepresented in Ireland that would work well given these advantages/strengths?

We are a bit behind the curve on impact investing in Ireland, but we are known to catch up quickly and leap frog!  Ireland has been engaged in responsible and sustainable investing and a certain amount of social impact investing (no financial returns expected) in certain assets classes, but there is a still a gap in the private equity space.   Intentionality exists among people, funds and industry, but there has not been a big carrot in terms of capital allocation.   As the market for impact investing grows globally, Ireland will likely follow suit.  With €1trn coming from the EU into sustainable businesses over the next decade, Ireland’s start up ecosystem, academic prowess and excellent workforce will enable innovation in this space.  But we need to move now.

A few of us are engaged with the Global Steering Committee on Impact Investing set by the G7 and have begun the development of a National Advisory Board - watch this space!

1. Do you have a geo of interest as to where the impact is felt? (we're an Irish co. focused on emerging markets) 2. What is the timeline for your fund? Are you ready to ready to deploy funding? What is the expected duration from first meeting to a signed agreement? 3. Do you focus more on impact on systems, environment, people or all of the above? 4. What is the best way to connect?

1. We look at Ireland, UK, Netherlands and elsewhere in Northern Europe, but primary focus is Ireland!  Companies are targeting impact to be experienced in developed markets initially (Europe +) but can focus on emerging markets down the road.  Our 1st investment MagGrow is a great example of this with their smallholder farm product as a future product for emerging markets.    2. Timeline for our fund - more active in 2022 but we are actively tracking opportunities now.  Duration from 1st meeting - that depends on the deal! Ideally within a quarter and no longer than 6 months, but again it depends.  3. We analyze impact at all levels systems, environment and people level - and it really depends on the solution.  Our carry is linked to both impact and financial targets so it’s CORE to our success as a fund. 4.

Is there a particular dollar range that your deals would normally fall into?Similarly is there a equity % range that you would normally aim for?

Hopefully my answer above satisfied your question.  It depends on the deal and €250-750K range likely not more than 10% of any company… and  well, it depends on the deal.

What operational stage would want a business to be in for you to consider it investable? I'm currently at MVP stage of a B2B supply chain tracking and optimization software initially aimed at the fashion industry. Is MVP stage too early or is the market size and opportunity the more important factor? Would you consider investing pre revenue?

Pre revenue is exceptional unless there are notable early pilots…reach out as we are happy to meet innovators and founders solving problems that matter!

Can you tell us about the type of companies you have already invested in ?

As a new fund we have invested in agtech company MagGrow and another inclusive SAAS company TBA.   As an angel, some examples include a fintech company reducing bias in fund allocators, accessible fertility tech, ESG data platform, clean/cell based meat, social care marketplace other impact funds…wide ranging but all founders have intentionality for impact combined with excellent business acumen - my favorite combo and what WakeUp Capital looks for…

What are the best places for people to connect or get in touch with you?

Thanks so much for having me - best to email and   Well done Scale Ireland for creating this inclusive space!

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