John Kohler on Impact Capital, Micro VC Firms and Creating the Demand Dividend

John Kohler on Impact Capital, Micro VC Firms and Creating the Demand Dividend

For the past several years, John has been Director of Impact Capital at Santa Clara’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and has also been a mentor to social entrepreneurs at the Global Social Benefit Accelerator.  In 2011 he authored a report on impact investing entitled Coordinating Impact Capital: a New Approach to Investing in Small and Growing Businesses and recently co-authored a chapter on equity investing in New Frontiers of Philanthropy (Oxford Press-2014).  He is now pioneering a new investment vehicle – the Demand Dividend – that presents investors with a ‘structured exit’ alternative to equity.  In addition, he is co-founder and Director of Toniic, a syndication network of impact investors.

John manages investments through Redleaf Venture Management, a venture capital operating company founded in 1993.  John’s earlier background includes twenty years of executive level positions at Hewlett Packard, Silicon Graphics, Convergent Technologies and Unisys.  He was one of the founding executives at Netscape Communications. He led investments at AdRelevance (JMXI), Mosaic Communications (TWX), NetGravity (DCLK), RedCreek Communications (SNWL), and Wireless Online.  John serves as a board member at PACT, an NGO based in Washington D.C.  He received his bachelor’s degree concentrating in international economics from UCLA and completed executive programs at Wharton and Stanford business schools. Over the last 15 years, he was a managing member of the UCLA Venture Capital Fund and still serves on the UCLA Sciences Board of Visitors. Other recent advisory committees include the World Economic Forum, and HUB Ventures.

John has a vast wealth of knowledge when it comes to financing early stage companies, and he is now applying his skill set to helping social entrepreneurs build investment ready companies at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. It’s not often you get to have discussions with someone who launched the first micro VS firm back in 1993, and is now applying lessons learned from tech investing in Silicon Valley to the companies and entrepreneurs who are trying to build businesses addressing climate resilience, bottom of the pyramid customers, and is financing them through innovative means. Rather than always taking equity, there are alternative ways to fund social enterprise startups that align long term goals of both the investor and the company, and create a more sustainable model, and John is at the forefront of these methods.

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