Driving Impact with Meaningful Measurement

SOCAP Global March 14, 2024

A Money + Meaning Podcast with Ryan Brennan of Advantage Capital and Nzinga Broussard of Sorenson Impact Institute

With a portfolio that includes more than $4 billion invested over more than 30 years, Advantage Capital demonstrates how investing can create waves of positive impact across communities and sectors. The firm’s unique investment approach prioritizes meaningful impact measurement and dynamic partnerships.

In a new episode of Money + Meaning, Advantage Capital Managing Director Ryan Brennan discusses how the firm continues to evolve its practices and expand its reach. His conversation with Nzinga Broussard of Sorenson Impact Institute was recorded live at SOCAP23.

Advantage Capital’s vetting process involves a 40-person investment committee, which Brennan said reviews proposals based on projected financial return on investment and impact return on investment. “That’s two sets of thumbs: It’s the investment thumb and it’s the impact thumb,” Brennan said. “There are tremendous investments that just have nothing to do with moving the needle on economic development, wages, jobs, wage progression. And those are the deals we choose not to pursue.”

Advantage Capital’s portfolio spans a range of geographies and sectors — “everything from a biotech startup that wants to cure cancer to a beef processing plant in northwest Nebraska,” Brennan said — which creates opportunities to show the range of possibilities for impact investing. “Some will say, ‘What’s your focus?’ And we’ll say, ‘It’s impact.’ And they will say, ‘We don’t know what impact is.’ So that gives us a chance to talk about it,” he said.

Once the investment is made, Advantage Capital launches an impact measurement system with upfront standards and a dynamic nature so it can be adjusted over time. “We’ve built out our team to be side-by-side with these entrepreneurs and help them make daily decisions that improve the lives of their employees and their communities,” Brennan said. “That may not be impact measurement, but it is a means to the measurement.”

The ongoing nature of Advantage Capital’s impact measurement system includes nudges along the way for investees, feedback gathering as the investment ends, and learnings that the investment committee uses to inform future decisions — what Brennan calls “meaningful” measurement. “That’s what makes me very proud about our impact measurement system,” he said.

Through its 30-plus years of impact investing, Advantage Capital continues to learn and evolve as it explores new sectors and strategies, Brennan said. “This is a risky business. This is not putting money under a mattress and going to get it in seven years. This is investing in at-risk entrepreneurs. And I’ll lead with that every time I talk about a program,” he said. “But our 30-year history says we’ll succeed more often than we’ll fail.”

Listen to the full Money + Meaning podcast to learn more about Advantage Capital’s approach to impact investing.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to Money + Meaning on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or anywhere else you find podcasts. 

Listen to more episodes of Money + Meaning here.

Impact Investing
Join the SOCAP Newsletter!