This Startup Just Raised $3M To Help Recently-Released Inmates Get Back On Track
Cloud-based SaaS platform Acivilate has raised a $3 million seed round, led by Atlanta-based investment firm BIP Capital with additional participation from public-private venture firm GRA Ventures, to continue expanding their product that helps newly-released prisoners with the re-entry process.
“Seed round will be used to continue development and make our lead customer in Utah wildly successful,” says CEO Louise Wasilewski. “We were ready to raise when we won the state of Utah, who could convince investors the market was real and opening up, and when we knew we needed a solid balance sheet to win the confidence of risk-averse government customers.”
The startup is tapping into the $130 billion prison and court system market that U.S. taxpayers pay into each year. Often, individuals return to prison, not because of an additional crime, but because of lack of communication upon their release or loss of job and income opportunities. Acivilate’s platform helps facilitate the vital connections between newly-released prisoners and the services they need to maintain self-sufficiency — housing services, employment information, and more.
Recently, Utah kickstarted a pilot re-entry program with 225 monitored tablets. Each tablet includes pre-loaded educational materials, treatment plans, housing information, employment opportunities, and more.
“We are a tech startup even though our purpose is to change societal outcomes,” says
Wasilewski. “Our challenge was raising money as a company selling to government and creating a new category — both difficult in and of their own right. What we found in BIP Capital was an investor willing to look at an unusual market because they developed confidence in the team.”
Acivilate’s case management platform connects government agencies and non-profits and syncs up referrals to help keep track of released prisoners’ progress and send out an alert when they are struggling. Clients, the government agencies that track these processes, have less paperwork to keep track of, more engagement, and the chance to stay connected with released individuals through the re-entry process and beyond. Often agencies can’t work together because of privacy rules — with Acivilate, they can work together in one place.
Aside from their anchor client in Utah, the company also has Georgia counties Gwinnett and DeKalb on their roster, as well as the state of Maryland. With participation from GRA Ventures, a public-private firm that receives funds from the state of Georgia, we should see expansion of the platform in the Peach State as well.
After meeting BIP Capital Managing Director Paul Iaffaldano through Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint accelerator last year, Wasilewski knew who to go to first when practicing her investment pitch.
“So when I wanted to practice my pitch and get feedback from someone whose opinion I really valued, but where nothing was at risk — after all, his reason for not investing hadn’t changed — I chose Paul. Of course, he didn’t know I was treating it as practice. And then he decided to invest, and valuing him highly, I was delighted. And yes, he knows this story.”
The funding round has a rolling close until the end of the year.