The Sorenson Impact Foundation is delighted to announce the launch of the Sorenson Strategy Fellows program. After a rigorous and selective recruitment process, we were proud to select two fellows for the pilot of our new fellowship program.
SIF is committed to providing more than just capital to our portfolio companies. Investing in early stage impact start-ups, we believe that it’s imperative to support entrepreneurs in key areas that can make or break the success of an early stage company such as financial management and controls, corporate culture, board and investor relationships, and overall business model evaluation and assessment.
As such, we are piloting a new summer fellowship where we will send business students to our portfolio companies for specifically scoped engagements to support the great work of our entrepreneurs.
Here are interviews with of our two Sorenson Strategy Fellows who are spending their summers in Nairobi, Kenya working with three of our portfolio companies on market research, voice of the customer analysis, and growth strategy.
Kelly Bryan, Washington, D.C.
Kelly is a California native who moved to Washington, DC in 2010 to manage a portfolio of investments for an early stage investment fund. She later joined a tech startup identifying key growth opportunities and executing strategic initiatives. With an interest in using investment capital to expand social and economic opportunities for low-income or underserved individuals, she then went on to work for a non-profit investment fund where she managed sector specific accelerator programs helping female founders running early-stage tech companies to gain increased access to VC funding. Over the last year, she regularly volunteered with a local non-profit organization funding low-income entrepreneurs through micro loans in the Washington, DC area.
Kelly will be working with a new potential business vertical within Copia Global, which has been in SIF’s portfolio since 2012. She will coordinate across departments to ensure that those businesses are set up for success and generating and executing on ideas to drive faster growth and profitability. She will also be working with the Marketing Department to improve high-value customer retention.
What She’s Excited About
Kelly is excited about the opportunity to work internationally and focus on serving low and middle-income customers in rural and peri-urban areas. She is also interested in learning first hand how a for-profit company effectively focuses on driving profitability in order to achieve impact at scale.
I think this experience will challenge me to think in more innovative ways, as I help to solve new problems I haven’t previously encountered or considered. More than in any other role, I think this experience will help me prioritize relationship building first, and problem solving second. I look forward to the challenge, and am thrilled to have been given this exciting opportunity.
Mitchell Wulfram, Salt Lake City, Utah
At the Sorenson Impact Center, Mitchell is a Senior Associate on the Impact Investing team leading due diligence teams and delivering deal presentations to the investment committees of both the Sorenson Impact Foundation and the University Venture Fund II. Mitchell will be working with Ecofuels in Nanyuki, Kenya for the Summer on a variety of projects. Mitchell will also be working with Global Partnerships’ Social Venture Fund as an Investment Associate in Nairobi on sourcing and diligence.
Prior to joining the SIC and SVF teams, he worked as a Full-Stack Web Developer and UX Designer at software startups before transferring to the University of Utah to pursue a degree in Business. Mitchell is also the Vice-Chair of the student startups programs at the Lassonde Entrepreneurship Institute, where he manages a startup accelerator of 20 student companies and mentors student founders, and a monthly $10,000-prize pitch competition for student startups. In his spare time, Mitchell enjoys training for triathlons and spending time with his three younger siblings.
During the summer I have two main projects. I will be working with one of Sorenson Impact Foundation’s portfolio companies, Ecofuels, on supply chain analysis and and sustainability initiatives research. I will also be working for Global Partnerships’ seed fund, the Social Venture Fund, in Nairobi, where I will assist the Managing Director in sourcing and due diligence on potential seed-stage impact investments across East Africa.
What are you excited about?
I’m very excited to become more familiar with the startup and impact ecosystems here in Kenya and surrounding countries, and apply my skills learned at school and the Sorenson Impact center to provide value in both of my projects for the company and fund. I am also very excited to gain better first-hand market context through meeting local people, building a network, and visiting many local founders.
Why are you interested in / excited about impact start-ups?
I am interested in the ability of impact startups to create jobs and deliver value even in risky markets and geographies. I am most inspired by the local founders I meet who work incredibly hard to build sustainable businesses which also create impact. They are raising incomes, increasing health and qualities of life, and positively affecting the environment, all while also building solid business models.
What do you think this experience is going to be like?
I think it will be an incredible learning experience and am excited for the challenge. I think I will be surprised by many things that I could not have known without being here in person, and that those things will help me do better research and make better investment recommendations in the future. After my visit here in February this year, I got exposed to the incredibly driven work culture of people here on both the startup side and investment side, and can’t wait to engage in that culture and meet new colleagues.