Michael “Luni” Libes is a 20+ year serial entrepreneur and (co)founder of six companies. His latest startup is Fledge, the “conscious company” accelerator, and Kick, a pre-accelerator, where he helps new entrepreneurs from around the world navigate the complexities between idea and customer revenues. In addition, Luni serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence and Entrepreneurship Instructor at Pinchot University and an Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus at the University of Washington’s CoMotion, the center for innovation and impact.
In this exclusive interview with Luni, he provides a glimpse into starting one of the few “conscious company” accelerators.
DarcMatter: Please provide a high level overview of your investment process.
Luni: Fledge is similar to other global business accelerators, recruiting and accepting applications from entrepreneurs all around the world. The Spring 2015 application period included 170 applications arriving from 45 countries.
These were all reviewed. The best were interviewed via Skype or Google Hangout. Opinions were gathered from market experts. In the end, the best of the best were ranked by team, impact, and odds of success, a total of seven factors and subfactors, entered into a multi-variate mathematical model which provides a ranked list. The top seven are then invited to participate in the program.
More details on this process on the Fledge blog at http://fledge.co/2014/what-fledge-looks-for/ and http://fledge.co/2015/what-doesnt-make-it-into-fledge/
DarcMatter: What differentiates Fledge from other funds and accelerators in the sector?
Luni: Fledge is the conscious company accelerator, focusing on mission-driven for-profit companies. Of the thousands of accelerators in the world, only a handful work with impactful organizations, and of these just three (that we know of) are themselves for-profit investment funds.
Beyond that, Fledge has a unique revenue-based investment model, which is based on sharing in the future revenues of our fledglings, rather than waiting for an exit. This allows Fledge to invest into a market with new historic exits, but nonetheless large opportunities.
DarcMatter: What is one development within the “conscious companies” space that you expect this year?
Luni: Each year we see more and more interest by traditional investors in the world of impact investing, and for 2015, we expect that to manifest not just with more impact Angels, but with the launching of a few seed-stage and early-stage impact funds.
DarcMatter: How does Fledge get involved in the companies it invests in?
Luni: Fledge works side-by-side with each of the fledglings, everyday for 10 weeks, providing education, guidance, and flood of mentorship. We provide these companies access to a network of hundreds of mentors, and a growing network of past and future fledglings.
For early-stage startups, we act as an experienced co-founder on their team, helping our entrepreneurs avoid the same old mistakes (lunarmobiscuit.com/same-old-mistakes/) and teaching them the realities of funding (lunarmobiscuit.com/if-you-think-it/).
DarcMatter: Finishing off on a fun note, tell us a little known fact about yourself.
Luni: I do in fact sleep. 🙂 The two most common questions I get are “Why do people call you Luni?” and “Do you ever sleep?” I’d say the two are related. Case in point, fledge.co/2015/introducing-fledgex/, and lunarmobiscuit.com/impact/ were launched on consecutive days, with the latter being my eighth book published, not quite yet three years since the first.
Visit Fledge’s profile page on DarcMatter at https://www.darcmatter.com/fledge.
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