As any burgeoning start-up will attest, a fantastic product or idea is one thing - but it’s securing investment that can really make or break entrepreneurial success. With a portfolio spanning 65 equity investments and convertible loans, as well as 12 fund investments, DOEN Participaties (Ventures) is the biggest impact investor for sustainable and socially inclusive start-ups in the Netherlands. The investment arm of DOEN Foundation, a key partner of the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, it furthers the Foundation’s core goals.

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That is, achieving a positive impact on society by supporting new sustainable, socially inclusive, or creative initiatives through financial instruments including grants, loans and equity. In 2016, DOEN Foundation extended its investment toolkit with the creation of Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge Fund. Designed to support former finalists after the competition's completion, to date, it has invested in the region of €2.6 million in some of today's most exciting sustainability start-ups.

Here, Beau-Anne Chilla, Impact Investment Analyst, shares five tips for start-ups seeking investment from DOEN Participaties.

1. Define What Sets You Apart

“DOEN Participaties is an investor that puts impact first. Explain why your company is making the difference, and why your company is outperforming the competition or other ideas tackling the same environmental issue, in terms of impact.”

2. What Would DOEN Do For You?

“Why is the investment from DOEN bringing your company to the next level? How will you be able to scale your impact if you succeed in attracting investors? DOEN does not only want to invest in companies whose business model contributes to a greener society, DOEN also wants its capital to make an impact. Explain in your pitch deck why DOEN’s money is a catalyst that can bring your company and its impact to the next level.”

3. Time it Right

“Don’t wait too long which approaching DOEN! DOEN Participaties is an early-stage investor that likes to take risk. This way, DOEN can help impact-oriented companies prove their business model. By investing in early-stage ventures it helps start-ups in reaching a scale where commercial capital is also available, increasing the number of green and social players in the market. If you wait with approaching DOEN until other Venture Capitalists are also ready to invest, DOEN can no longer play her preferred role of pushing more impact-oriented start-ups in the market.”

4. Have a Plan

“Make sure your strategy and financial plan are aligned and up-to-date. This one sounds very straight forward but you will be surprised how many ventures that approach investors lack a clear vision and plan to execute. DOEN invests in the green business idea and the team behind your company, but also in the prospect towards the future. The company should be able to show how it will reach financial sustainability in the future. How are you going to conquer the world? And how big is your funding need in order to execute these plans?”

5. Communicate!

“Last but not least; don’t forget to give us a call every now or then. It’s always easier to assess if you match our requirements if we are up-to-date and we know how your company developed over the lasts months or years. Besides that, we have great oat-milk cappuccino in our office, you are always welcome!”

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Beau-Anne Chilla, Impact Investment Analyst at the DOEN Foundation