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…


Building companies responsibly is where the puck is going.

— Wilneida Negron & Lyel Resner

“I lay awake at night thinking about all the things we built in the early days and what we could have done to avoid the product being used this way”¹

— early Facebook Executive

Faced with a pandemic, the climate crisis, and unresolved systemic racial and economic inequality, our country finds itself at a critical moment. Our interdependence is now more apparent than ever, and this has triggered explosive demands for change in every corner of society.

Technology companies are not immune, having been increasingly singled out for enabling discrimination, human rights abuses, and…

Startups & Society Initiative

Accelerating the adoption of responsible company-building practices in tech

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