These Early Tesla Investors Are Pouring Millions Into Companies That Could Change The World

DBL Partners are powering the companies that create more than just financial returns.

Fast Company
July 20, 2015

By BEN SCHILLER

Ten years ago when Nan­cy Pfund first start­ed mak­ing social impact invest­ments, many peo­ple were skep­ti­cal about the idea of invest­ing both for prof­it and social ben­e­fit. You either made mon­ey or you did good, but rarely both. “It was unheard of by most,” she says. “There was a very lim­it­ed set of investors who were pre­pared to take the plunge.”

Today, impact invest­ing has gained a lot of accep­tance, and that’s reflect­ed in the size and sources of Pfund’s new $400 mil­lion social impact fund. “The notion that you can make fan­tas­tic returns with­out hav­ing to sac­ri­fice your mis­sion, and vice ver­sa, has real­ly moved from the mar­gins to the main­stream,” she says.

Pfund is man­ag­ing part­ner of DBL Part­ners (DBL stands for dou­ble bot­tom line) and most famous for being an ear­ly investor in Tes­la and SolarCi­ty, two pow­er­hous­es of the green econ­o­my. She’s joined in the lat­est fund by Ira Ehren­preis, anoth­er ear­ly Tes­la investor. They make the case that impact invest­ing has matured in sev­er­al ways, start­ing with the atti­tude of entre­pre­neurs them­selves.

It used to be that we would have to some­times prop­a­gate some of the ideas and then that would get them start­ed,” Pfund says. “Now the entre­pre­neurs are often five steps ahead of us. That’s some­thing we’re excit­ed about get­ting going from the very begin­ning.”

Ehren­preis adds: “The change we’ve seen is that entre­pre­neurs are real­ly embrac­ing the notion they actu­al­ly don’t have to have a trade­off. They can change the world and build a great com­pa­ny in the process.”

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it Fast Com­pa­ny.