Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) announced Wednesday the organization’s first investment from the $1.71M Impact Fund. Nashville-based Hytch will receive a $150,000 commitment, leveraging private investment dollars by lead investor XMI Growth, angel investors and family offices. “This investment by LaunchTN has been a major catalyst for attracting additional private capital,” said Mark Cleveland, co-founder and CEO of Hytch.
The LaunchTN Impact Fund was created in late 2017 to identify and invest in for-profit, Tennessee-based companies making a social impact by addressing challenging societal problems while deploying sustainable business models. The fund matches private investors at a 25% rate, collaborating with private investors who are committed to social impact and environmentally conscious investments to support promising and socially aware Tennessee companies.
Winner of the 2018 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award and Nashville Technology Council’s Emerging Company of the Year, Hytch incentivizes positive transit behavior through the company’s rideshare tracking technology and universal rewards platform called Hytch Rewards. Users, known as Hytch Heroes, save trees and can earn additional cash incentives for carpooling or two or more people taking public transportation.
Hytch Heroes invites friends and co-workers to a shared ride, which is then logged with GPS and location technology. This process allows Hytch to calculate the amount of miles “not driven” and quantify the amount of carbon emissions that are eliminated. Sponsors, such as Nissan North America and major employers seeking creative recruiting and retention tools, use Hytch to influence people by offering cash when making positive transit choices, which can include incentives for responding to air quality alerts, or driving the speed limit in construction zones.
“Today is an exciting day,” said John Lanahan, LaunchTN director of capital formation. “The idea, concept creation and thesis of the Impact Fund has evolved over the last six months, and Hytch is a great example of the type of company we want to support. They have an opportunity to address growing mobility issues that plague many urban markets. And for every dollar of revenue they generate, they are able to quantify the amount of associated impact for Tennessee or any market in which they operate.”
To date, users have logged more than 3.7 million shared miles on the Hytch Rewards platform and saved 66,000 trees or 1,300 acres of healthy forest. Hytch also recently announced a partnership with C4Coin to develop and deploy a carbon negative blockchain integration, an innovation which will enable value creation of the ride sharing behavior itself, and create a new marketplace to capture and distribute the value of emissions not made.
“Transportation experts say we can’t build our way out of congestion, futurists say autonomous cars will create more vehicle miles driven, not less. They are both right,” said Cleveland. “We say behavior change is the solution. To get congestion relief, we simply must fill the millions of empty seats in our daily commute.”
As thought leaders converge on the idea that achieving such behavior change, even on a small scale, would be worth billions, Cleveland concluded, “Behavior is infrastructure.”
LaunchTN expects to make 10-15 investments out of the Impact Fund over the next two years and is evaluating numerous opportunities from across Tennessee.
About Hytch LLC
Hytch is a social impact technology platform that inspires and rewards people for ridesharing. Hytching is the single simplest and most cost-effective action people can take to reduce their carbon footprint, help cut crippling traffic congestion and reduce costly parking fees. As the winner of the 2018 Nashville Technology Council’s “Emerging Company of the Year” and 2018 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award, Hytch is creating a pioneering platform and business model in Nashville with plans for expansion nationwide. Hytch received a 2016-2018 Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant and 2016 Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s “Innovation Award” supporting a new approach to measuring successes in alleviating traffic congestion by incentivizing shared transit infrastructure in Middle Tennessee. Launch partners include Nissan North America, Franklin Synergy Bank, Lipscomb University, Reliant Bank, Goodwill Industries of Middle TN, Onin Staffing and Sprint Absolute Wireless.
About Launch Tennessee
Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership that fosters entrepreneurship, with the goal of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Partnering with Entrepreneur Centers in six regions, Launch Tennessee creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions and government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. Visit LaunchTN.org to discover what makes Tennessee a great state for startups.