I have never done this before, so I think I can do it [1]

With this quote in mind, I started my impact investor journey at Pymwymic. Now that the first weeks have passed, I can say that it is both tough and a great experience at the same time. Let me explain.

First, I had to learn to speak a whole new language. With no financial background, terms like CAGR, convertible loan, EBITDA, B2B were all pretty new to me. This resulted in quite a few amusing situations. When I kept hearing about the “angels”,[2] I could not help but think of the Christmas holidays. You can imagine it was quite a challenge for me to make sense of the rest of the conversation…Or take the word “plant”.[3] It was confusing to me when in the investment deck I was reviewing spoke about a “plant”, while the picture did not at all show something with green leaves!

While it is still a challenge for myself to accept that it takes practise and experience to learn this new skill, I am beginning to understand the world of impact investing. And that feels good. The team took the time to teach me all about screening, impact measurement and financial modelling. And they gave me a push to review investment opportunities by myself. Quite a new experience!

Second, it is interesting to see the differences and similarities between the approach of Pymwymic and my family office. I consciously choose to learn more about impact investing in a different environment than the family business. As much as I trust and respect their work, I felt a strong need to develop my own vision. And this required me to be exposed to a different viewpoint. As an example, I see our family business and Pymwymic making different decisions when it comes to defining impact and additionality.[4] Pymwymic makes decisions guided by a mandate with their community of member-investors (over 140 individuals!). Our family business can simply choose to take more risks because the possible loss only concerns ourselves. The good news is: as far as I can tell, both are doing a pretty good job!

“Gaining first-hand experience of what it is like to be an impact investor, helps me understand what my own role could be”

Third, I have come to realise that what I enjoy doing on a daily basis is quite different from the work the Pymwymic investment team does. I share the same values and am committed to impact, but diving deep into financials and market sizes does not give me much energy. Gaining this first-hand experience, helps me understand which choices I will have to make later on in terms of; how much time I want to invest in investing and how involved do I want to be. Right now, I do not know exactly what that will look like. But I am happy to have met several Pymwymic members who are going through the same journey. They are also developing their own opinions and roles about how to integrate impact investing in their lives. I found out that the Pymwymic community has people with a financial and businesses background. But also people with very different backgrounds, such as doctors, farmers or marketeers. Precisely these differences make it interesting: everybody has their own unique skill set and journeys. And to share stories about that journey gives a feeling of solidarity and recognition.

For now, I can say I am enjoying the ride. Whenever it is tough, I remind myself about the entrepreneurs who step out of their comfort zone to start a business to make the world a better place. Most of them have never done this before… they learned along the way. Now it’s mine turn to step out of that comfort and discover where my impact is going to be!

[1] Quote by Pippi Longstocking.
[2] For all people still wondering what an angel is: private individual investors who invest in seed / start-up companies.
[3] A place where an industrial or manufacturing process takes place.
[4] Additionality is providing value which otherwise would not be achievable or slower to achieve.

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