Season 7 Episode 8 : Can even venture capitalists have Purpose? The answer will surprise you

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Does Purpose help the bottom line? It’s a fair question, surely—maybe, ultimately, the best question we can really ask ourselves in business as the idea of a move away from purely shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism takes off. And while we do need to ask CEOs of Purpose-driven companies that question, perhaps the ideal community to seek a hard-nosed answer here is the VC (venture capitalist) world, for whom the conditio sine qua non of an investment has to be that it will pay back, at multiples.

Luckily for us on Season 7 and all our now fast-interlocking conversations on our central question of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ is that today, we have the definitive answer: yes—in fact, it’s actually only the companies that have Purpose that end up with strong cultures and stronger outcomes.

There’s a lot to take in to see why our guest, Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner at GSV Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund investing in education and workforce technology entrepreneurs, is so convinced of that fact, but we hope we have intrigued you enough to listen in to see her logic and proof… but it’s also just such a pleasure to listen to the fusion of a deeply ethical mindset and razor-sharp thinking Deborah brings to her job.

Just one example among many: her rhetorical question about why she does what she does: Is it more fun to go call on a company making breakfast cereal, or on a company that’s really trying to change people’s lives meaningfully? Deborah and her team have been active for many years disrupting the $6 trillion education technology sector, having helped amazing names like ClassDojo, Degreed, and RaiseMe, among many others, get out of the lab.

Equally important to her, as you’re about to hear, is her work on the annual ASU GSV Summit: now in its 11th year, the Summit celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “preK to Gray” learning and talent landscape and this COVID, virtual year attracted a quite staggering 33,000 online attendees. So tune in now to hear how this predominantly Chicago-based Ed tech sector investment ninja has been putting ‘Purpose’ as one of the ‘5 Ps’ a startup has to have before she even looks at them.

Before we get started, two callouts are needed: one, to our on-going Season 7 partners, Dani and Stacia over at Purpose-driven HR advisory group RedThread Research, and most especially to our Season sponsors, Ed tech luminaries NovoEd, who are just as keen as we are to find an answer to ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Don’t forget that in early 2021, the issues Deborah raises today will be under the microscope in our planned special live, online gated experience, where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7. If you doubt that Purpose is good for capitalism, then make sure you can get in your two cents about it by locking-in your free place at the webinar. How can I do that, Chris? I hear you say. It’s easy: click on over to the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project,

All done? Great—so let’s hear about VC money, Purpose, diversity and what a VC does, as well as:

  • how Deborah sees a coming together of all parts of Education and the workplace training
  • the emergence of knowledge as a ‘currency’
  • why what GSV does is not the same as what an impact fund tries to do
  • that significant 2019 Business Round Table statement… are we actually seeing enough action  by companies?
  • how Learning is starting (at last?) to be seen as an important weapon by corporate leaders to improve overall outcomes
  • her conviction that exponential growth in an Ed tech company will come not just through great technology, but through diverse teams
  • what inspired her to get into the Ed tech area
  • and much more.


Deborah is on LinkedIn here, and her employer is here

Find out more about the ASU GSV Summit here

RedThread’s Purpose work is here

And don’t forget that the NovoEd-hosted Season 7 overall microsite hosts all these episodes as well as much, much more—and that’s where you can quickly get online registration for the final Q1 2021 webinar.

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