Omaha, NE (November 19, 2020)—Social enterprise HTI Labs, whose mission is to fight sex trafficking, domestic violence, & sexual assault by creating sustainable, data-driven research and technology in collaboration with community partners, has secured revenue-based funding in their seed round of investment, led by Invest Nebraska, Nebraska Angel Investors, and Nelnet. The deal is the first of its kind for involved investment groups. HTI Labs will use the funds to scale their victim empowerment software, PAVE, and re-platform their LEADS software, an interactive platform for proactively investigating trafficking that provides law enforcement users with leads on trafficking in their area. This will allow for the software to be more scalable across the country.
The Omaha-based tech company was founded in 2018, stemming from Founder and CEO Crysta Price’s 2015 research project at Creighton University, called the Human Trafficking Initiative (HTI). HTI Labs has recently launched PAVE, securing Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services as their first client on the platform. PAVE is a web application that facilitates a single screening, assessment, and referral process where all roads lead to potential human trafficking victims being connected with services.
Price wanted to explore more creative financing routes, stating, “it was important to me to figure out how we can provide an exit for investors that is in alignment with our long-term vision. It will likely be a long time before we see IPOs for social enterprises, and I’d only be comfortable with an acquisition by a social enterprise that could put more capital behind the mission and take it to another level in a way that I’m not able to.”
Revenue-based funding fit the bill Price was looking for. Not only is revenue-based funding more sustainable for social enterprises than equity-based funding, it allows them to be able to have a greater social impact by providing access to startup funds that align with their mission. “Knowing that I have an extremely ambitious vision for HTI Labs, and accomplishing our mission is something I am passionate about, I didn’t want to raise capital such that investors only get paid back if I seek an acquisition – that’s misalignment. RBF provides investors with a short-term exit in which I am incentivized to do exactly what serves the company and the mission – grow sustainably,” said Price.
The additional funding will help HTI Labs be able to continue their partnerships with the Women’s Fund of Omaha, Nebraska State Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations as well as expand into new regions such as Orange County, CA and Colorado.
To learn more about HTI Labs and their mission, visit www.htilabs.org.