SOMA Magazine February/March 2017 : Page 36

Feature The Influencers Clara Brenner TexT by Valerie DemicheVa Clara Brenner is a managing partner at the Urban Innovation Fund -a venture capital firm with a focus on startups that aim to impact urban communities. She’s also the co-founder of Tumml, an urban ventures accelerator that empowers startups to solve urban issues. Both endeavors were setup to nurture companies that harness tech for good -as in technological solutions geared toward fixing problems like homelessness and congestion in cit-ies. Such startups are less than half as likely to get seed funding compared to traditional startups, and so Brenner’s fund aims to prove that investment in social good can be impactful while bringing significant returns for investors. Earlier last month, Brenner sat down with us to discuss her work in impact invest-ing and the need for a holistic approach to urban issues. How did you and Julie Lein create the Urban Innovation fund? Julie and I wanted to see more startups tackling major urban problems and scaling their solutions to cities across the globe. So we launched what became the nationally recognized Tumml accelerator, focusing on investing and supporting promising urban tech entrepreneurs. Over the last three years, we invested 36 in 26 startups – building a portfolio of high-growth, early stage urban innovators. In order to cement ourselves as investment leaders for urban innovation, we recently launched the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that provides seed funding and regulatory support for entrepreneurs tackling our toughest urban challenges. The goal is to be a launch point for major capital deployment within the urban technology sector. And, really, it’s a fantastic way for Julie and me to keep working together for the next 40 years. Why did you decide to focus on urban issues? Have you personally worked on any of these issues with some of the companies in your fund? I launched the Urban Innovation Fund with Julie Lein in June 2016. We provide seed funding and regulatory support to start-ups tackling our toughest urban challenges – helping them grow into tomorrow’s most valued companies. Julie and I first met as grad students at MIT Sloan where we chaired the Women in Management conference together. Through that experience, we learned that we loved working together and wanted to find other ways to build something meaningful. We ended up coming

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