The Birth of Swell Investing

Dave Fanger
May 12, 2017
6 min read
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Swell CEO Dave Fanger shares how he and the team created a better way to invest.

Five years ago, in the middle of a long-haul flight from New York City to Los Angeles, a lightbulb went off in my head.

What if impact investing was available to everyone, not just high-net worth and institutional investors?

In some ways, the idea was a no-brainer. In other ways, it felt distinct and important. I didn’t want to create another feel-good strategy. I wanted to create a smarter way to invest—for all of us.

Don’t get me wrong. The concept behind impact investing isn’t new. But until now, the sky-high minimum investment requirement meant that these options were out of reach for most people.

Which also meant folks were missing out on some pretty attractive financial returns: Extensive academic research and empirical data have shown that socially responsible investing can have a positive, not negative, impact on portfolio returns. 1

Purpose and profit should go hand in hand

Conventional wisdom used to draw a line in the sand between doing good and making money. People thought social and environmental issues belonged in the world of philanthropy and that investments should focus exclusively on financial returns.

Our thinking however is not conventional.

We believe that today’s biggest global challenges will result in tomorrow’s leading industries and that this offers investors a huge opportunity to seek progress and profit at the very same time.

Invest in what you value

So, we started building an entirely new investment platform

Despite our eagerness to burst out of the gate with a fully-formed product, we decided to take things slow and do a lot of listening.

We began by developing a website and cultivated a core group of real-life investors who gave us invaluable feedback. We shared ideas, we listened, we learned, we pivoted, and we kept building. After two years of experimentation, we landed on a prototype that balanced purpose and profit in a way that felt truly powerful.

We introduced our first Alpha users in January. This iteration was pretty darn close, but it still wasn’t perfect. So we kept coding, kept rewriting kept getting feedback, and fine tuning. At long last, I’m proud to announce that our product is ready to share with the world.

I couldn’t be more excited to introduce Swell, the world's first platform for investing in companies that are making a positive impact in the world.

We’ve built Swell’s portfolios around high-potential, high-impact themes, focusing on industries that address environmental and social challenges around the globe. Our research is thorough and deep. We do the legwork, so it’s easy to invest in the causes you care about, like clean water, renewable energy, disease eradication, green tech, zero waste, and healthy living. While I invest in all of Swell’s portfolios, the Disease Eradication portfolio holds  a special place in my heart. My family and I have been impacted by both cancer and diabetes, so I’m excited to be invested in companies that are addressing these and other concerns that impact all of us. 

The companies in our portfolios are bursting with smart ideas and changing the world for the better. Best of all, their innovative products, services, and solutions make them well-positioned for growth. Meanwhile, we’re committed to helping investors make informed decisions by providing meaningful data and insightful content, without all the jargon and double-talk you find on other platforms. And we do it all in a way that’s accessible to the average investor.

Purpose plus profit potential: It’s an idea whose time has come. Join us and invest in progress.

Welcome to Swell Investing.


1 Gladman, Kimberly “Ten Things to Know about Responsible Investing and Perfofmance.” GovernanceMetrics International. 2011.

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