Sometimes it can seem like there’s a hard line between making investments that can yield solid returns and putting money into worthy social or environmental causes. Everyday investors often find their choices further limited due to decades-old legal regulations. For those who want their money to help make a positive impact and still receive a return, options are scarce.
Enter in CoPeace, an impact-inspired holding company. CoPeace is creating a portfolio of companies in industries like climate solutions, cleantech, economic equality, and social justice. The company also accepts investments from everyday investors, regardless of income level or other demographic markers.
We reached out to CoPeace founder and CEO Craig Jonas to learn more about the company. Craig told us about his vision for inclusive capitalism and the legacy he wants to leave for his children.
Note: This interview was conducted over email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
CoPeace is a first-of-its-kind holding company. We are building a portfolio of carefully-screened, for-profit companies which are achieving measurable social and/or environmental impact, while providing competitive returns to investors. A unique CoPeace feature is that investing in our company is available to everyone, not just the wealthy.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur and have had success in past ventures, but none of them really fed my soul. With two young-adult sons, I started asking what my legacy would be for my children and their generation. CoPeace is our response to this question and represents our deep desire to help create a new form of inclusive capitalism – business that is committed to success with multiple bottom lines, leading to a better (more peaceful) world. It sounds idealistic — and it is — but that vision is what drives us to help grow socially-impactful wealth for all people.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
My varied experiences in athletic, academic, and business industries have provided a solid foundational blend for CoPeace. Living in India, growing up and doing extensive business internationally, I learned people are the same wherever you go. As a coach, I learned how to lead and motivate. As an academic, I learned how to think critically and solve creatively — especially in figuring out ways to harness conflict to influence positive change. As an entrepreneur, I learned it is all about the team, and we have assembled a top-notch group at CoPeace. In every experience, persistence and love win over time.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
In the future, all investing will be sustainable investing, simply by virtue of the fact that it’s a good business decision to include multiple bottom lines in your analysis. As the effects of climate change and social injustice continue to negatively impact our planet, there will be continuing investor demand for ESG [environmental, social, and governance] investments, which align with the betterment of our world.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
CoPeace is founded and funded by a group of individuals who have decades of experiences across entrepreneurial, business, and investment industries. Our executive team currently includes four chief staff members, and we’ve worked together at various other companies for many decades. Our COO, Ed Tepper, joined our team at the start of this year. He and I worked together back in the day, developing and innovating live sports broadcast with American football’s virtual yellow first down line and baseball’s virtual strike zone. Meg and I worked together previously at an elite sport and event management company. Overall, it’s our intention to develop a diverse team with varied experiences and backgrounds. Diversity of idea is important to our decision making process.
We’ve also got an extensive bench of board and advisory members across more than 16 industries. We call on them to offer their business and investment expertise, offer guidance, open doors, and champion ideas in their respective industry.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
There are only a couple of true impact holding companies currently in operation — ix Investments and Orthogonal Thinker. CoPeace is significantly different from both for two reasons. First, CoPeace has democratized the investment process by providing an innovative and inclusionary platform that allows everyday investors of all demographic types unprecedented access to impact companies. Second, CoPeace is designed to grow its portfolio across multiple areas of impact with complimentary holdings, not focusing on one specific theme. This model allows us to craft a portfolio of companies working towards complementary missions in any given social or environmental subsector and ultimately to amplify our collective impact output.
What does your business model look like?
As a holding company, we seek to acquire a majority or controlling portion of the stock of companies under our umbrella. In exchange, we will exercise oversight and provide long-term financial and managerial support to these companies or holdings. Financially, this approach supports the growth of the holdings in our portfolio, while encouraging CoPeace’s overall cash flow and more reliable yearly returns. Structurally, it protects CoPeace from losses, spreading financial risk across multiple holdings and fosters the continued success of CoPeace as a whole.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
The equity crowdfunding raise falls directly in line with our mission to democratize the impact investing process by allowing investors of all levels to participate and grow wealth alongside bringing positive change to the world. Through our current offering, we intend to deploy 70-80% of the capital raised for future acquisitions/holdings.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
You don’t have to sacrifice financial returns to do good. It turns out it is a smart business decision to care about the long-term future of our world. We carefully screen and analyze companies so even first-time investors can participate without extensive knowledge or wealth.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
We intend to become the Berkshire Hathaway (in a modernized way) of impact investing with a diverse array of holdings to accelerate growth and mitigate risk. We are in this for the long run!
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Craig and his team take the company. CoPeace is currently raising funds on Wefunder.
About: Olivia Strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.