Rodney’s background in equities, financial research, investment banking and venture capital makes him an unconventional but authoritative champion of impact investment. Joining Wall Street in the 1980s, he rose to become the number one ranked financial services analyst at PaineWebber and then held senior management posts at Lehman Brothers and Paribas, before leaving the sector in 1997 to found the venture capital firm Catalyst. A pioneer in this impact investment marketplace, he transformed Catalyst into a social business consultancy and in 2008 launched ClearlySo, a business designed “to help create 100 Justgivings”. This seemed an exciting new style of company, which achieves significant impact as well as great financial returns. The firm raises investment for high-impact businesses, charities and funds. Today, ClearlySo is Europe’s leading impact investment bank and has helped more than 140 clients raise more than £253 million in investment capital by leveraging its extensive network of high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.
John is Chief Marketing Officer of ClearlySo and responsible for marketing strategy and overall customer experience. Prior to ClearlySo, he spent eight years in New York City at Sequoia Capital-backed Fintech leader Traiana, which successfully exited in a trade sale to NEX Group, formerly known as ICAP. After moving to London in 2016, John started investing in early-stage start-ups through a social and environmental impact lens. He has made 10 investments in 7 impactful businesses in education tech, clean energy, health tech and financial services, and sits on the board of one of his investee companies, eCadets Ltd, a provider of online safety solutions for children.
In this exchange, you will learn how impact investing has evolved and become mainstream among institutional investors and family offices in Europe. In the early days, it was only a selected few who seek businesses that bring long term value and sustainable impact. As time progresses, Next Gens also plays a pivotal role in mobilising more capital into this space as they see first hand the immediate effects of climate change and how it is affecting all of us. Additionally, the ClearlySo team shares two projects they are working closely on — a high-tech health company that develops prosthetic devices, and a project that focuses on closing the education gap for the less privileged. Don’t miss this chance to learn from the forerunners in the space and catch the full podcast.
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Quotes from ClearlySo
“We look at impact because we won't work with any company or fund that isn't. But we also do extensive work on the financial returns that are likely to be achieved by the company. We started by just kind of looking at each other and said, "Does this feel like impact? And we said, "Yes," and that was enough. Now, we have an eight-page questionnaire and we have a scoring system. We're trying to look at all the different aspects of the company which might relate to impact, and then checking some sort of quantitative measure as to whether it's an impact business or not.”
“I think the environmental situation in Asia has really compelled many institutional investors to become very large forces, and over the last week or two, in fact, we've been exploring ways that we can significantly increase our exposure and experience to Asian investors.”