Today, Verb announced closure of $2.3 million in Series Seed funding, which is one of the largest rounds ever for an Austin-based social enterprise. Verb connects large corporations and foundations to thousands of social entrepreneurs around the world through competitions and a proprietary technology platform. With a focus on solving “wicked” problems, Verb partners exclusively with clients who want to run competitions tackling social and environmental issues.
Suzi Sosa and Tom Meredith co-founded Verb in 2013 after running a seven-year competition at the University of Texas called the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Over the years, Verb has replicated the model with clients such as IBM and LIVESTRONG. The 2013 LIVESTRONG Big C competition was hailed by Forbes as “the first time that such a competition has been attempted in healthcare.”
In addition, Verb recently announced a multiyear partnership with the Everglades Foundation to run their $10 million science prize.
“Verb has huge market potential,” said Tom Meredith, Verb’s Co-founder and lead investor. “Verb helps organizations to source creative ideas as well as top talent to address the problems and opportunities that interest them most. Verb’s platform and ecosystem provide entrepreneurs and organizations with the means to replicate and scale their innovations well beyond their local communities or existing markets. Verb helps entrepreneurs around the globe to identify strategic partners, sources of capital and mentors. In short, Verb is at the epicenter of the social innovation movement.”
Ernst & Young recognized Verb’s innovative business model blending financial return and social impact by awarding co-founder and CEO Suzi Sosa with the coveted Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014.
“We are responding to three massive trends in the marketplace,” notes Sosa. “First, businesses are now seeking to address social and environmental issues more strategically. Second, the rise in global entrepreneurship means there are more innovative startups than ever before, and finally, social media enables engagement with the public on a much larger scale.”
Verb’s Series Seed round is unique because it includes two philanthropic foundations, the Graham Family Foundation and the Tingari-Silverton Foundation, among our investors.
“This was an incredible opportunity for our foundation to make its first program related investment,” says Graham Family Foundation Director and Build-A-Sign CEO Dan Graham. “We are excited that we can make investments that also support our foundation’s mission. More foundations should consider opportunities like these.”
Verb’s Series Seed investment capital will be used to fund global expansion, platform development and strategic hires. Recent additions to the company include Chief Operating Officer Laura Broderick and Chief Creative Officer Tommy Lynn. Verb expects to continue to grow the team throughout the year.
Verb Series Seed Investors
Tom Meredith (Meritage Capital), John Thornton (Austin Ventures), Bobby Epstein (Circuit of the Americas), Matthew Dowd (Paradox Capital), David Hunt (Petro-Hunt L.L.C.), Herbert Simon (Simon Property Group), Zita Cassizzi (TOMS Shoes), Kurt Wilkins (HireBetter), Donna Wilkins (Charity Dynamics), Marc Winkelman (Calendar Holdings LLC), Andrew Bursten (Coastal Telephone Co.), Lance Fors (LFI Properties), Pamela Ryan (Tingari-Silverton Foundation), Dan & Lisa Graham (Graham Family Foundation), and Walter Wilkie (Philanthropist).