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Funding

Fintech Maslow banks $410,000 in crowdfunding raise that sets the standard for social impact investment

- May 17, 2024 3 MIN READ
Mina Calvert, Lacey Filipich, Caitlin Robinson & Kane Jackson.
Maslow's founding team: Mina Calvert, Lacey Filipich, Caitlin Robinson & Kane Jackson.
Social impact startup Maslow has raised $409,676 in a crowd-sourced funding (CSF) campaign from 288 investors, including many other founders in the impact space.

Investors included Brendan Doggert, country manager of Sharesies, Youpay founder Matt Holme, former ZeroCo CMO Glen Cassidy, Future Super cofounders Kirstin Hunter and Adam Verwey, Doone Roisin of Female Startup Club, Ethics Alliance director Cris Parker, Seabin founder Peter Ceglinski, and Judo Bank head of product Alistair Lamond.

Maslow plans to introduce a digital platform that offers customers access to a suite of financial products and services at cost price, supported by a value-based monthly subscription fee. That approach is expected to disrupt the traditional financial services model by aligning the company’s profits with the quality of service provided, rather than the volume of products sold or their profit margins.

CEO and cofounder Kane Jackson said Maslow achieved higher metrics for a CSF raise due to strong alignment with social impact, which points to a growing opportunity for early stage impact startups that are not supported by traditional funding sources.

“We’ve privately received strong support for Maslow’s mission for years,” he said.

“To have that publicly validated by industry leaders and advocates for the kind of social change that most venture capital investors have no appetite for is a positive sign that the advances we need most can still occur without them”.

Jackson cofounded Maslow with Caitlin Robinson and Mina Calvert with a goal to “turn the finance industry into the world’s largest publicly owned utility”.

The funds will be used for new hires and to develop Malsow’s offering.  Financial education advocate Lacey Filipich has joined the team along with marketer Joan Westenberg.

Jackson added that he believes Maslow is Australia’s only all-queer and predominantly female founding team.

Birchal CEO Matt Vitale said that in tracking the performance of the Maslow campaign on the crowdfunding platform, it exceeded many of the parameters significantly.

“Remarkably, Maslow achieved this tremendous result with virtually no digital advertising spend, which is often a critically useful component of a company’s strategy for building an audience of interested investors,” he said.

“Kane did this through leveraging his network, having conversations, building relationships and an engaged community.

“The success of Maslow’s raise on Birchal proves the strength and appetite of the crowd to pursue impact and social change that traditional funding avenues may not be as supportive of.”

Lessons for founders

SIX (Sustainable Investment Exchange) CMO Amanda Gordon said Maslow activated the passion, experience and belief of an impressive group of investors really captured her attention and offered some important lessons for other founders.

It felt like the only thing on LinkedIn for a few weeks. That’s no small thing considering it was organic,” she said.

“The campaign Maslow ran set the bar on what an early stage social impact company can achieve. That’s an overwhelmingly positive outcome for the kinds of impact startups we’re going to need if we’re to change the world the way many of us know is necessary. 

“Relying on wealthy investors with a vested interest in the status quo staying unchanged appears to be coming to an end, and it couldn’t come soon enough.”

 SIX, Adam Verwey and Sophie Hall

SIX cofounders Adam Verwey and Sophie Hall

SIX founder Adam Verwey said he will apply the lessons from the Maslow campaign when he launches a crowdfunding campaign on Birchal in the coming weeks.

“I’ve been talking about the alignment between crowdfunding and social impact startups for a long time. We knew Maslow’s campaign was going well from the outpouring of support we saw on LinkedIn, but to see that validated so strongly in the data emphasises the opportunity that Impact companies have to raise capital from the crowd,” he said.

“It appears that more than half of ECF [equity crowdfunding] deals are for companies that have sustainability or social impact qualities. I think this category will continue to grow as society becomes more determined to solve the biggest problems we face and which don’t appear to have solutions in the places we’d traditionally expect to see them”

Verwey said many early stage impact companies are now looking at ECF as the most reliable source of early stage impact capital.

“These companies want to have highly aligned investors who care about the mission, but find larger impact investors tend to be focused on Series A and beyond,” he said.

“Traditional VC and PE companies have been talking a lot more about impact investing, but they are still approaching it as a theme rather than changing the way they conduct business. Prioritising impact and mission alongside profit means doing business differently.”

Seabin’s Pete Ceglinski, who raised $3 million on Birchal for his ocean cleanup startup, said: “I invested in Maslow because I like economic disruptors, especially those for social good which can balance the scales in one-sided industries.”