ICA Fund Good Jobs featured in The Oakland Business Review

In an extensive interview-based piece, the Oakland Business Review has featured ICA Fund Good Jobs, our small-business mission, and our CEO, Sean Daniel Murphy. We've shared the content of the article below. 

Small Business Profiles: ICA Fund Good Jobs

Oakland-based ICA Fund Good Jobs has grown over the past two-plus decades from its original purpose and mission as Oakland Advisors, later Inner City Advisors, and now as ICA Fund Good Jobs, with a charter to serve the nine counties of the Bay Area.

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With its rich, 22-year history in the city, ICA Fund Good Jobs has purposefully set forth and evolved to a greater mission, encompassing a cadre of services and offerings that are moving the needle in creating equitable communities as a nonprofit venture capital firm that supports and serves, bringing to bear very high caliber advisors to nurture high-growth small businesses. The end goal is in the creation of accessible, good jobs, and new wealth for families that need it the most by providing education, an accelerator, and the multiplier effect and impact of doing its own direct investment, which is then leveraged to raise additional capital.

ICA was perhaps best known for making connections and bringing pro-bono advisors together with businesses through early successes with Revolution Foods and Blue Bottle Coffee. The company is now part advisor, part incubator, part seed, with a focus on established businesses in the 3-5 year stage ($1-$5M), where scalability and life cycle concerns are critical, with an eye toward job creation that fosters economic freedom. 

Sean Daniel Murphy, recently named to the San Francisco Business Time's 2018 “40 Under 40” List at the age of 33, is CEO of ICA. An appealing combination of confidence and humility, Murphy gives much credit to people who have taken a chance on him. “I owe a great deal to Michael C. Bush, CEO of a Great Place to Work, who made a bet on me over 12 years ago, and introduced me to my friend and former colleague Jose Corona, now Director of Equity and Strategic Partnerships at the City of Oakland. It was Jose who first engaged me at ICA as a volunteer, and later hired me.” 

Murphy continued, “At ICA we believe investing in high potential businesses to create good jobs, new wealth, and economic freedom is our role to play, but we recognize we can’t do it alone. My personal philosophy is to “bet on people who build people,” and now, more than ever, we need everyone in the ecosystem, investors, developers, policy makers, educators, community partners, and everyone in our community to play their part.”

Mentor Michael Bush teaches a course at Mills Graduate School of Business, “where we are exposed to, and serve through our education program, a couple hundred businesses every year, and where we invite and filter through and look for the highest-growth businesses for our advisory-based accelerator. Through this process we get to know those businesses and then directly invest,” said Murphy. “It’s been twenty-two years of amazing people rolling up their sleeves for small businesses. Our lens is helping those businesses grow, then in turn, asking them to do well by the community – operating and creating good jobs with benefits, participating in the wealth and upside growth of those opportunities, and looking at how businesses can – and should – support each other in the economic ecosystem.

ICA engages with entrepreneurs, community members, and partners to broaden its network. The organization offers an education platform to teach business fundamentals, empowering entrepreneurs to stabilize and grow their businesses, combined with advising that puts business owners into a strong and diverse network with offerings of professional services, workforce development partners, and capital providers.

Murphy notes that since its founding in 1996, ICA has worked with thousands of small businesses who have generated revenues of more than $1B, and have created thousands of good jobs in furtherance of an equitable community.

"We’re really proud that we pick up the phone and talk to any business that calls us and followup with them diligently Our year-to-year direct service is about 200 companies; we’re hands on and practical in our approach. Our accelerator is a cohort model, and we are intensely involved with about 10 businesses, and even more focused of late, to just 5-7 businesses at a time.

“Fund Good Jobs is a bright light; it started out as an advisor arm, and we discovered capital is the greatest barrier to growth, so created a separate 501(c)(3) to directly take this issue on; a local family foundation in the East Bay shared a lot of their grant learnings and experiences, and became our first investor in the fund. This initial seed fund, equated to about $3M in capital, was directly invested in five East Bay businesses, and that in turn leveraged another 8x investment through attracting additional banks and other investors to participate. This is the highest and most intimate form of impact we make," Murphy said.

"Key ingredients we seek out are ambition to grow, receptivity to advice, leveraging of our direct network and the mission commitment in how well they do by people, ranging from employees and customers, to the greater community," concluded Murphy.

Read the article on the Oakland Chamber of Commerce website here