Impact Investing in Maine—and Building Business Intuition

Posted on Tue, July 16, 2013 by CBAS Fellow.

by Chris Gomsak T'14, Tuck GIVES Intern   

I’m just past the halfway mark of my Tuck GIVES-supported summer internship with Small Enterprise Growth Fund (“SEGF”) in Portland, Maine. It’s been a rewarding and interesting opportunity; definitely different from my previous work experience. SEGF invests in high-growth Maine-based companies with the potential to create strong returns and quality jobs within the state, thus contributing to Maine’s economic growth.  Once invested, the fund provides business advice and technical assistance to its portfolio companies, and access to its network of advisors and additional investors throughout New England.

My role with SEGF involves projects for the fund as well as one of the portfolio companies the fund recently invested in. For the fund, I’m preparing a guide for Maine-based entrepreneurs on how to most effectively manage the growth of their businesses, as well as assisting on diligence of potential investments. The rest of my time has been spent alongside the CEO of one of the fund’s portfolio companies, assisting with strategic and operational matters. For instance, I’m analyzing how the company can best position itself for revenue growth by targeting sales channel partners or by penetrating new industries like healthcare or airports.

In both roles, I’ve been able to bring a fresh perspective as an outsider, and have definitely leveraged my research skills and “MBA” thinking to add value. 

What’s been challenging, especially with my background as a CPA more accustomed to working on team-based projects for clients, is working primarily independently in a relatively unstructured role, often times without any data or numbers to guide the way. Challenging – but a new experience that’s allowed me to develop different skills and build intuition around more qualitative matters. Three days a week I’m working out of the office of the portfolio company, and the other two days I simply find a coffee shop to plant myself in, as there’s no chance I’d be as productive if I worked from home. That much I know about myself! Here’s a picture of me at my favorite go-to spot.