Source: Twilio 2020 Impact Report

Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, is a widely respected serial founder and investor. He is an active philanthropist who is fiercely committed to the San Francisco Bay Area. His personal belief system is woven into Twilio’s modus operandi. This deep infusion of collaborative, long-term thinking is evident across the company: in the impact team’s organizational structure, organizational and strategic business decisions, as well as in Twilio’s responses to changing social dialogue.

Here are five ways Twillio strategically embeds social impact into its operating mode:

Resourcing Social Impact

  1. The Impact team’s organizational structure aligns with Twilio’s impact goals

It’s not surprising for a messaging…


Lindsay Siegel
Head of Impact at Company Ventures

Company Ventures is an early-stage venture firm with a focus on supporting values-driven founders. We met with Lindsay Siegel, the Head of Impact at Company Ventures to discuss their approach to creating diverse talent pipelines for their portfolio companies.

Since the founding of Grand Central Tech, their flagship residency program for early-stage teams, Company has focused on bringing together the next-generation workforce with next-generation founders. By being both future and impact-focused, Company did not overlook the fact that public university students were not typically prioritized as rising talent in the tech startup scene. They have found that these trends exacerbate…


Pooja Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer at Flatiron School

Flatiron School is a Manhattan-based global institution that teaches students in-demand tech skills such as software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and product design. Since their founding in 2012, the leadership at the Flatiron School has been committed to fostering an internal and external culture focused on equity, access, and inclusion¹. Externally, they have launched several fellowships and scholarship programs to diversify their pipeline of students. Internally, diversity and a focus on fostering an inclusive company culture have always been a pillar of their operations.

Given the critical attention and focus that was already given to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture — Flatiron School would have those values and culture tested when the BLM protesting began after the tragic murder of George Floyd.

Strengthening Core Values

In our conversations with Pooja Agarwal, the Chief Operating Officer at the Flatiron…


“Our values are around increasing participation in democratic process —this is our big mission.”

Damola Ogundipe, CEO Civic Eagle

Damola Ogundipe is intent on proving that you can build a big venture-scale business and still be committed to your values.

Damola started Civic Eagle in 2016 and has raised $2.3M from Techstars, ff Ventures, Higher Ground Labs, and others.

Civic Eagle’s software helps advocacy organizations manage their legislative advocacy work with an easy-to-use software interface for monitoring and tracking bills, and best-in-class collaboration features that make working with partners and stakeholders on legislation easy.

At its current scale, Damola knows all of the current clients…


“There has arguably never been a time more important for business to be a force for good.”

Claudine Emeott, Director of the $150M Salesforce Impact Venture Fund

Claudine Emeott

The Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund launched in 2017 and addressed four initial sectors: Climate + Sustainability, Education + Workforce Development, DEI + Inclusion Tech, and Tech for the Social Sector. These areas were chosen for their opportunity to create impact and their ability to tie back to Salesforce’s core business. …


A micro-case study for Founders from the Startups & Society Initiative.

Aclima measures and analyzes air pollution and greenhouse gases on a hyperlocal-level which helps regulators, policymakers, and environmental advocates better understand and manage emissions and their impacts. When Davida Herzl incorporated Aclima, there were two choices for how she could deliver on her mission: she could start a nonprofit, serve parts of society that lack access to resources, and be beholden to philanthropists, or she could build a business for scale with funding from VCs indifferent to impact.

By the time the company closed its $40M Series B in…


A micro-case study for Founders from the Startups & Society Initiative.

Source: 500 Startups ESG Survey Results

500 Startups was founded in 2010, and has invested in 2,500+ startups in 77+ countries. The global accelerator and early-stage investment fund has prided itself on being different from Sand Hill Road VCs. On the threshold of raising its 5th Global Flagship Fund, the organization’s leadership took decisive action to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters — long considered extraneous to building fast-growing businesses — into its the 5th Global Flagship Fund’s investment and portfolio management processes, without changing its distinct approach

Tracy Barba, Executive Director, Global Stakeholder…


From fundraising to operations, here’s how Topknot stayed true to their values while raising a $650k pre-seed

A micro-case study for Founders from the Startups & Society Initiative.

Topknot’s values and pattern-aligned Founding Team

Too many founders think of equity and social responsibility as a set of issues to address later in their company’s life cycle. The truth is, it’s never too early, but it can definitely be too late.

“You can’t retrofit equity” — Claire Shorall.

Claire Shorall and her founding team at Topknot recently raised a pre-seed round from prominent investors like Backstage Capital, Homebrew, and Aston Motes, among others — while also doubling…


A micro-case study for Founders from the Startups & Society Initiative.

Ope Bukola, Founder of Enle

Ope Bukola, a former Product Lead at Google and founder of Enle, wanted to tap into the technical talent of the African continent, and her home country of Nigeria. Ope on why she started Enle:

“There is an explosion of interest in tech in Africa, and a lot of young people are teaching themselves to code/design and getting into the digital economy. …


Many of today’s founders want to build ethics and social responsibility into their companies from the get-go, but don’t know where to begin.

We’ve been using the 11 blocks of questions below as prompts for our interviews with founders and operators to surface stories and examples of how they are going the extra mile to build more ethical, socially responsible, and world positive companies. We’re sharing them here for other founders to use as a tool for considering some of the different areas that they can — or may already be — building their companies’ responsibility.

In our first set…

Accelerating the adoption of responsible company-building practices in tech

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