Keith Ippel
IMPACT INVESTING

Keith Ippel

#164

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Spring Impact Capital

The importance of targeting startup programs – Keith Ippel

“You don’t need an engineering degree to raise capital, but there’s terms and terminology and negotiation that actually will make or break your company.”

ABOUT

With over 25 years of experience as a leader in technology & impact businesses and as an angel investor, Keith has accelerated the growth of both small and large companies and raised over $80M in angel investment and venture capital. As a global keynote speaker, teacher, and advisor, he has an unparalleled ability to collaborate with entrepreneurs, employees, and investors to grow businesses and change the world. Keith has trained more than 400 impact entrepreneurs on investment readiness and raising capital, including Hootsuite (first three rounds), StoryTap, SocialNature, Nada Grocery, Foodee ($200m exit), Ministry of Programming, ehsAI (acquired), Brightkit (acquired; 3x in 2 years), Careteam, and FoodMesh.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Keith Ippel

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to the Impact Investing, brought to you by the Supporters Fund from the city with the only castle in North America. Toronto, Canada. I’m your host, Jeffrey JP Portman. And let’s please welcome from the Hollywood of the North Vancouver, Canada, Keith Apple from Spring Impact Capital. Welcome, Keith. It’s a real pleasure having you join us today.

Keith: Great to be here with you, JP. Thanks for having me.

Jeffery: Well, I’m really excited about having you here today, Keith, because one, you have a vast background. You’ve been doing this a long time, but when you look back at your background just on where you’ve come from and that the kind of the stages throughout your career, it seems like you’ve just grown into where you’re meant to be. You start off as an analyst, and then you go all the way to where you are today, and it just almost feels like going through the bike business. Everything else you were just meant to be in impact investing since day one. It’s like, learn this, become this thing. Amazing.

Keith: Yeah. It’s interesting. You know, when, there’s a reason why they say hindsight is 2020, right? You know, like, yeah, I think there was never a plan to be here back when I was, you know, coming through university or undergrad. But you’re absolutely right there for me. Like the journey that I’ve been on always related to business. My dad was a serial entrepreneur, and so I was always exposed to entrepreneurship and early stage business and growth and capital. But at the end of the day, you know, it’s for me, it’s it’s been a process where, you know, you talked about my early analyst role, you know, it’s a it’s about, you know, looking at the information, looking at the numbers, problem solving, looking for opportunities. And, and and you know, it’s it’s thinking about almost like you know what is being Sherlock Holmes. But in the context of early stage business. Right. And so, you know, you’re looking at the clues and you’re saying, what does this tell me? What does this teach me? And therefore what is what are the next moves that, that that we have to make? And so, you know, I had the very good fortune of getting involved in entrepreneurship at a, at a very interesting time in, in the tech ecosystem, you know, late 90s, you know, watched the dotcom, you know, bubble burst, you know, watch the digital media craze start to take off in the mid to late 2000. and really watch the impact movement start to unfold. And, you know, for me, growing up at a time where people were capitalists by day, you know, 9 to 5 and then would be philanthropists from 5 to 9, really understanding that actually, if we decided to be impact 24 seven, that you can actually make money while making the world a better place. You’re you’re absolutely right. That’s how I ended up in this world. And so, you know, my first career was included that time, you know, with United Way campaigns that really gave me that first taste of like trying to make a difference in the world. And just that triggered a hunger that has never been satisfied. And so I continue to try and fuel that today with spring.

Jeffery: I love it. So I guess it’s the way we like to start it off. And you’ve you’ve dived right in, which I love. So you want to learn more about your background and kind of all the great things that you’ve done and through some of the different businesses, the iterations, the time you spent building the current venture, which has been over ten years, there’s so many cool things that you’ve done that have really kind of, accelerated yourself to getting into the funding side versus all of the other pieces that you’ve kind of layered into that. And while you’re kind of sharing those insights, maybe you can share one thing about you that nobody would know.

Keith: Yeah, for sure. I’d love to do that. so for me, I come from a background where, you know, my parents were both immigrants to Canada, so I’m a first generation Canadian. we, saw this process unfold where, you know, my parents and my dad were, were trying to, to create economic opportunity. And, and so that was a, you know, capitalism for good kind of mindset, right? Like, you know, creating opportunity, creating opportunities for their children and, and, but following a very traditional model. Right. Cap, as I said before, capitalist by day, philanthropist by night. And I always remember thinking. That there was a real opportunity for people to actually do more impact all day long. And when I left my undergrad, business degree and got into the business world, I was, you know, now looking back, I was clearly craving those moments of impact and those opportunities for impact. So, you know, I kicked off the first United Way campaign for Hyundai Canada. and, I was involved with a number of other initiatives, during that time. And at the time, it was probably enough for me, but it really was always point to me in that next, next direction. And so when I got into the tech world, the tech world was amazing for me intellectually, because, you know, I love to solve problems and I love to analyze situations, and I love to come up with the right solutions, seize the right opportunities, and get things back on the rails and move forward. And so there was a number of years there were where my intellectual curiosity was really piqued and satisfied. But the more I worked in tech, the more I realized there was a disconnect between what I was doing and and and what I actually what change I wanted to create in the world. And and it’s not a criticism per se, but the tech world is so often about creating the next Facebook or the next Instagram. the next Tesla, where, you know, they’re creating large organizations. But the, the, the impact starts to become dubious over time, right. And and so for me, when I got to the end of 2009, I just said, you know what? I’ve got to in order for me to do this, I have to take the red pill, right? Like I have to unplug and I have to find out what it is. And so I took a I took a year long sabbatical and, and I wo