Technology is transforming the nonprofit space. With COVID limiting in-person activity, the nonprofit industry rushed to embrace digital adoption. The many functions of a nonprofit in terms of fundraising, outreach communications, finance, and service delivery have been integrated into digital workflows. Impala is vying to become the leader in business intelligence for nonprofits. The platform features vetted data about nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, their people, and their finances, enabling users to navigate the entire nonprofit ecosystem in a seamless manner. Given the resource constraints of many nonprofit organizations, Impala empowers them with the data to make informed decisions and maximize impact. The platform is offered on a freemium basis with full access to profiles; deeper intelligence on philanthropy comes with the paid version.
AlleyWatch caught up with Impala Cofounder and COO Simon Dickson to learn more about the importance of leveraging data for impact-driven nonprofits, the company’s future plans, initial round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
The oversubscribed round was led by Zack Rinat, a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Mr. Rinat is the Founder and former Chairman & CEO of Model N (NYSE: MODN) and former Chairman of the Board of Conduit (NASDAQ: PERI).
Other investors include Oren Ze’ev Founder and General Partner of Zeev Ventures, Venture Capital firm Koa Labs, Amnon Landan cofounder and former Chairman & CEO of Mercury Interactive, and Adam Berman former Executive Director at the Haas School of Business.
We raised $1.05M and it was a pre-seed round.
Tell us about the product or service that Impala offers.
Impala is building the digital infrastructure to enable nonprofits to maximize their impact.
Impala’s Impact Intelligence product is a business intelligence-like platform tailored to the needs of grantmakers and fundraisers in the nonprofit sector. It empowers philanthropic foundations and nonprofits, no matter their size or resources, to operate like the Gates Foundation – but at a fraction of the cost.
It works by collecting and cleaning an enormous amount of data about nonprofit impact, people, and financials. Users can analyze any nonprofit ecosystem, anywhere in the United States, by searching for the organizations, geographies, causes, or populations they’re interested in. Impala then delivers the most relevant insights, statistical trends, and relationships, so users can make more informed, impactful decisions.
What inspired the start of Impala?
Shahar Brukner, Impala’s cofounder and CEO, developed the idea when he was founding his own nonprofit, BrainGain: Israel, which provides scholarships to young Israeli professionals studying at top US policy schools. He saw first-hand how badly the sector needs a tool to make data and impact-driven decisions.
How is Impala different?
We’re flipping the narrative: normally, nonprofits have to make do with private sector hand-me-downs; tools hastily re-purposed for this market. Impala is building a private sector-quality BI tool, specifically designed around the nonprofit sector’s needs.
An important part of this is that we’re also meeting the nonprofit sector where they’re at. For example, we understand that this is a sector that is under-resourced and very time-poor. So instead of requiring them to spend days, if not weeks, adding and cleaning data to our Impact Intelligence tool, we scrape publicly available data and create a profile for them. That way, it’s ready to use from day one.
What market does Impala target and how big is it?
The US nonprofit sector. It comprises over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations and more than 100k philanthropic foundations.
Importantly, in 2021 over $471B was donated in the US alone. If you include government support (approximately an additional $800B) it’s more than a Trillion dollar giving market, annually.
What’s your business model?
Freemium SaaS product. Our search engine and the profiles of every nonprofit and philanthropic foundation are free to access. Our Philanthropy Intelligence product is partially accessible for free and fully accessible with a paid subscription.
What are your post-COVID office plans??
We are currently in-office in Brooklyn and plan to remain this way for the foreseeable future.
What was the funding process like?
Lead investor Zack Rinat and VC Koa Labs joined first. Others joined afterward.
Importantly, our investors are veteran entrepreneurs and investors who have experienced firsthand, as they transitioned to philanthropy, that the BI tools and data they took for granted in the for-profit sector simply weren’t available in the nonprofit sector.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
One of our biggest challenges has been finding the kinds of backers who believed as strongly as we do that doing good can also be good business. We heard time and again “love the team, love the idea, but nervous about the sector”. It’s a challenge we’re proud to face head-on, and something we think is truly worth fighting for.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
In the words of two of our investors:
- Koa Labs Founder Andy Palmer said that it was the company’s vision that motivated his firm’s investment: “impact remains the ultimate goal of every successful nonprofit organization. Impala is building the digital infrastructure that will empower nonprofits and funders to maximize their impact by measuring their impact continuously, factoring it into funding decisions, and ultimately fulfilling their missions with quantifiable outcomes.”
- “My transition from the business world into the philanthropic world gave me a firsthand realization of the need to develop a digital infrastructure to provide nonprofit organizations with the same tools we take for granted in business,” said lead investor Zack Rinat, who now serves as CEO of the DARE Foundation. “Impala had a unique opportunity to do both well and good by addressing a large market opportunity.”
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Public release of our Impact Intelligence product (it is currently only available to our early access customers) and go-to-market expansion.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Persist. Leverage your networks. Find the audiences where your product, and the problems you’re solving, are most likely to resonate.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We plan to stay here in New York and to grow our presence here.
From a business perspective, in the future, we plan to tackle the friction that currently surrounds donation and nonprofit giving. It makes sense that if we’re building a platform that empowers you to make more informed, impactful decisions about where you give your money, you can also easily and quickly complete that transaction on the same platform.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
We love The Fly in Brooklyn. It’s right around the corner from our office, and a great place to hang out, with an awesome chicken sandwich and maybe a glass or two of natural wine.