GiveForward, the Chicago-based crowd-funding site that allows people to raise money for loved ones in need, announced today that it has closed on a $2 million Series A funding round led by Founder Collective and First Round Capital, with Naval Ravikant and Firestarter Fund participating.
This follows a $500,000 angel round in 2011 with investors New World Ventures, David Cohen, Howard Lindzon, Tim Krauskopf and others.
Like other crowd-funding sites, GiveForward provides people with personal fundraising pages. But instead of seeking funding for a project or entrepreneurial endeavor, users on GiveForward are raising money on behalf of a friend or family member to help them during a difficult time.
The company claims more than 3,000 active fundraisers aiming to raise $25 million to $30 million this year.
GiveForward, founded by Desiree Vargas Wrigley and Ethan Austin, is a 2010 graduate of Chicago startup incubator Excelerate Labs.
GiveForward, the Chicago-based crowdfunding site that allows people to raise money for loved ones in need, today announced that it’s closed on a $2 million Series A funding round led by Founder Collective and First Round Capital, with Naval Ravikant and Firestarter Fund participating. This follows a previous $500,000 angel round in 2011 with investors New World Ventures, David Cohen, Howard Lindzon, Tim Krauskopf and others.
Like other crowdfunding sites, GiveForward provides people with personal fundraising pages. But instead of seeking funding for a project or entrepreneurial endeavor, users on GiveForward are raising money on behalf of a friend or family member to help them during a difficult time.
The company claims more than 3,000 active fund-raisers aiming to raise $25 million to $30 million this year for causes ranging from cancer treatments to handling mortgage payments for families dealing with the financial burden of an illness.
GiveForward, founded by Desiree Vargas Wrigley and Ethan Austin, is a 2010 “graduate” of Chicago startup incubator Excelerate Labs.
By John Pletz
The tech startup hub in the Merchandise Mart called 1871 is lining up venture funds, universities and other long-term tenants along with young companies.
New World Ventures, the fund backed by J.B. Pritzker (who helped launch 1871), as well as venture funds I2A, Sandbox Ventures and Hyde Park Angels will lease office space in the building. OCA Ventures and Lightbank will sponsor conference rooms in the facility.
University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Illinois also will have offices in the space. Excelerate Labs, the startup accelerator, says it’s leaving a loft in Greektown to move into 1871. The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which is managing the programs at the facility, also are moving in.
“We’ve got two of the top five business schools in the country, a top design school and a top computer-science program — they’ll all be in one hallway,” says Kevin Willer, CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.
The facility, which formally opens next week, is designed to have flexible space for about 400 entrepreneurs to launch new companies. So far, startups moving into the space include Code Academy and Food Genius. Entrepreneurs pay $125 to $400 a month for space.
“We have enough applicants to fill it,” Mr. Willer says. “We have gotten a great response. We’re trying to be deliberate and select the best of the best.”
Applicants are selected by an independent review committee.
John Pletz is a senior reporter covering technology and aviation for Crain’s. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnPletz.
By Steve Hendershot
Retrofit, a Skokie-based company that offers data-driven weight-loss programs with one-on-one coaching from fitness experts, will announce today it has raised $2 million from three Chicago venture-capital funds. The investment round was led by I2A Fund, New World Ventures and the FireStarter Fund.
This marks the second substantial investment in Retrofit in just a few months. The company raised $700,000 from angel investors last September, then used the money to fund a beta test. That beta test of 160 clients was a hit — they’ve lost an average of 1.1 pounds per week — and now Retrofit will use the additional capital to scale up its operations and add features.
Retrofit’s fitness program works by pairing clients with a team of master’s-degree-level fitness professionals ranging from dietitians to counselors. The company collects data from Wi-Fi-equipped scales and pedometers, then funnels the information to the client’s team of advisors. The Retrofit service costs $250 per month and includes unlimited access to the service providers, who use the video-conferencing service Skype to meet face-to-face — virtually — with clients.
“Weight loss is a very squishy type of industry, and people are susceptible to hope, fear, a lot of theories, and lots of bad ideas. We decided to use data as a champion, so that people are working from a very quantitative, unarguable set of information, not hoping and praying they got it right,” says CEO Jeff Hyman, 43, a former Dyson VP who started the company under the name Strong Suit in order to build his product, then rebranded as Retrofit last summer when it was ready to market after about 18 months of research.
Retrofit has 10 full-time employees in the Chicago area in addition to 40 fitness experts nationwide. Half of the fitness experts’ compensation is tied to their clients’ results.
In additional to the three institutional investors, angel investor Larry Levy, chairman of Levy Restaurants, also participated in the $2 million venture-capital round. Mr. Levy also participated in the angel-investment round last fall.
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