The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business’ Social Venture Fund has closed its first investment. The Fund joined a syndicate of 17 investors in a Series A round investment totaling $2.4 million in LearnZillion, a Web-based platform that provides access to a video library of lessons taught by some of the nation’s top teachers. This marks the Social Venture Fund’s first investment and the first ever investment made by a socially-oriented student-led venture fund, says the University.
The Social Venture Fund’s seeks to make early-stage investments of up to $200,000 in sustainable, innovative, for-profit organizations that deliver financial returns and place the generation of a significant social impact at the heart of their mission. It is managed by Gautam Kaul, Professor of Finance at the Ross School of Business and by 34 students (29 MBAs and 5 BBAs). Along with the Wolverine Venture Funda nd Frankel Commercialization Fund, the Social Venture Fund completes U-M’s trifecta of student-led venture funds, managed by the Zell Lurie Institute.
A team of nine students led by Emily Airey MBA ’12 and Daniel Reyes MBA ’12, consisting of business and law students, sourced the deal and conducted due diligence on the company. As part of the Social Venture Fund’s investment in LearnZillion, both parties will work together to ensure socially-minded business metrics are met on an ongoing basis. The company is also participating in the Institute’s Summer Internship program to bring an intern onboard from Ross to work with the company.
LearnZillion currently focuses its lessons on grades three through nine with a focus on math. This funding will help the company accelerate content development by bringing on additional staff and developing additional material. Other investors include O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, DC Community Ventures and Learn Capital Venture Partners.