U-M Social Venture Fund Invests in Detroit’s Loveland Technologies

The University of Michigan today announced that its Social Venture Fund has backed Detroit-based startup Loveland Technologies as part of a Series AA round of financing.

An SEC filing shows that Loveland has raised about $780,000 from seven investors, although the company declined to say how much it had raised or name other investors. The student-run Social Venture Fund makes investments of up to $100,000 in early-stage companies.

“Loveland Technologies is mission-driven—we want capital and the business to grow, and we want to work with organizations that are also profit-driven and mission-driven,” Loveland co-founder Jerry Paffendorf says.

Loveland aggregates and analyzes publicly available information about Detroit’s property and makes it accessible to the public through a website and mobile apps. In January, Loveland Technologies, Data Driven Detroit, and the Michigan Nonprofit Association launched the Motor City Mapping project to survey the city’s entire 139 square miles—nearly 400,000 parcels of land—and identify blighted properties in need of demolition. The project marked the first time Detroit’s vacant and blighted properties were systematically recorded into an updatable database.

A team of seven U-M students found and researched the company. Of the fund’s notoriously thorough process, Paffendorf says, “We were sort of like guinea pigs in a good way, like ‘Shark Tank.’”

As part of U-M’s investment, students overseeing the venture fund will work closely with Loveland’s team and its other investors to scale and monetize its technology. Paffendorf says that Loveland’s plan in the near future is to apply its property-mapping software to other cities grappling with blight and vacant land: “We wanted partners [in that effort] rooted here that would benefit when we do grow and expand.”

U-M’s Social Venture Fund is the nation’s first student-led fund of its kind. About 30 MBA students manage the fund along with faculty advisor Uday Rajan, a finance professor. It focuses its investments in four key areas: education, food systems and environment, health, and urban revitalization

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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