The Automation Alley Seed Fund has struck again, investing $150,000 into TerraYebo.
This is the Troy-based business accelerator’s second six-figure investment in the micro-funding website start-up. It invested $100,000 in the Madison Heights-based firm earlier this year.
“Our investment committee liked their entrepreneurial team,” says Thomas Anderson, senior director for Automation Alley. “We thought they were smart and focused.”
TerraYebo is the company behind MyInchofTheEarth.com, a micro-funding platform for nonprofits. The website enables users to claim any virtual inch of the earth or ocean, share why that place is important, and choose a nonprofit that either supports the preservation of that place or a nonprofit that does good in the world. The idea is to let people’s life experiences at different institutions (such as their alma mater) or places (a national park) prompt them to give small amounts to non-profits that fund them.
The 3-year-old company has signed up a number of name-brand institutions for MyInchofTheEarth.com, including The National Park Foundation, CURE International, VH1 Save the Music, Veterans of Foreign War Foundation and The Pink Fund. TerraYebo’s team of four people, it has hired two people so far this year, plans to use the new seed capital to continue the build out of its website and developing its market.
“We want to continue to focus on the user experience of our website,” says Dan Glisky, president of TerraYebo. “That is first and foremost.”
The Automation Alley Seed Fund invests in early-stage start-ups with high growth ceilings. Investments range from $50,000 to $300,000. The fund is similar to the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, which is managed by Ann Arbor SPARK.
The Automation Alley Seed Fund got its start in 2004 and has received $6 million in funding, primarily from the state of Michigan. It has invested $8 million over that time, including a couple of start-ups that have either repaid the loans, cashed out the equity in the investment or have been acquired. One start-up, University of Michigan spin-out CieloMed Solutions, was acquired last year and provided a healthy return to the Automation Alley Seed Fund.