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As part of the Horizons Innovation Insights trip to San Francisco, we met Nex Cubed, an incubator with a social mission. In this post their CEO, Marlon Evans, explains exactly what this mission is.



“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  

The second-best time is now”.

Applying this old Chinese proverb to the world of work: the best time to make a positive change in your business was yesterday. The second-best time is after you read this blog post. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the frenetic, rapidly-changing world of startups and entrepreneurship.

In a competitive market like this, prioritisation is key. For a new entrepreneur finalising their strategic plan, deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what actions to take. Founders must decide how best to allocate the limited resources at their disposal, knowing that one wrong turn could sink the business. Traditionally during this time, impact objectives – such as establishing a winning culture, creating a diverse and inclusive environment, implementing sustainable practices, agreeing on core values, and developing a broader vision for your company’s footprint on the world – are often deferred until after a startup has “made it”.

At Nex Cubed, however, we believe differently. We believe the long-term success of a startup improves when positive values and an impact sensibility are infused into its DNA at the outset. By adopting a triple bottom line approach – considering people, planet and profit – startups position themselves to outperform their peers.

The statistics show that this is more than moral grandstanding:

  • ~ Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • ~ Companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and nearly 28% growth in earnings per share.
  • ~ Sustainable initiatives can increase sales revenue by up to 20% and market value by nearly 10%.

This data shows that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. Nex Cubed works with early-stage startups, whether they consider themselves mission-driven or not, to implement the fundamental principles necessary to build a successful business.

Like most incubators and accelerators, we provide financial investment and operational support. However, we also aim to expose our portfolio to new ways of thinking through an impact lens: perhaps the AR/VR platform they are building could be applied in the classroom or the doctor’s office, opening up a new market for the company?; maybe volunteering at a nonprofit is just the team building activity needed to keep morale up during a difficult time for the company? In addition to the long-term benefits of an entrepreneur viewing their startup as an agent for change, we see that there are tangible short-term benefits. These range from attracting and retaining staff (67% of people prefer to work for socially responsible businesses) to recognising new use cases for their product (88% of consumers are more loyal to companies that support social and environmental causes).

This unique approach distinguishes Nex Cubed from other incubators and accelerators, positioning us to partner successfully with the next generation of world-class entrepreneurs. In doing so, a virtuous circle is created, stemming from our triple bottom line approach: great entrepreneurs go on to build socially responsible and successful companies, resulting in tremendous returns from the Nex Cubed portfolio, which attracts interest in our platform from more amazing entrepreneurs, investors and corporations.

While you may not have planted your tree yesterday, Nex Cubed has laid the ground work. There is no better time to join us in our mission than today.


Nex Cubed is a leader in innovation-driven value creation, as a long-term strategic partner and shareholder. Our global ecosystem empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market, helps rising companies scale, and provides paths to liquidity – the ‘power of three’. We provide access to hundreds of founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, helping entrepreneurs drive innovation, value, and growth. To date, the Nex Cubed portfolio has a total valuation of $200m and over 50% of the startups are led by female and minority founders.