Most Startup Runway finalists are just beginning their journey towards a major investment or other opportunities for funding. But for Louise Wasilewski, CEO of Acivilate, this was far from the case. Shortly after participating in our pre-flight pitch round and peer review session, Acivilate received an offer for a $3 million term sheet with Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital. Although the end result is what every entrepreneur dreams of, Acivilate’s journey was far from easy.
Pokket, Acivilate’s mobile recidivism reduction tool, allows returning citizens to connect with service providers and correctional supervision to safely share information and avoid re-entry to the criminal justice system. “Mobility is crucial for the individual and the officer,” said Wasilewski, “Whether it’s in an office, library, at home, or on the street, being able to do the things you need to do wherever you are is very important.” This emphasis on accessibility has proven to be a distinguishing factor not only for Acivilate, but it’s users as well. “One woman, who had been in and out of prison for about 29 years, found support through the app and told me that for the first time it seemed as if there were people who cared,” said Wasilewski.
Over the past three and a half years, Wasilewski and her team have created one of the most innovative paths to prevent recidivism through the Pokket app, but, early on, not many investors saw it that way. Wasilewski faced strong doubt from potential investors who assumed that a state wouldn’t pay for Acivilate’s services, it’d take too long to ink a deal, or that it simply wasn’t worth the money. Fast forward to today, and it’s a different story — much different. The Utah Department of Corrections recently signed a 5-year deal with Acivilate, giving inmates, and those who were recently released, access to the full suite of services and products. “And the deal closed quickly!” she added.
Because the $3 million term sheet was already in the works prior to the Fall Showcase, Wasilewski came to Startup Runway with a unique perspective on what it means to pitch a startup to investors. Before the pitch, however, she spoke with her mock board members about specific challenges that are on the horizon now that she has a solid backing. “I’m currently working on my own board, so we spoke about what makes a good board member,” she said, “and because these were local representatives, having a confidential conversation, they even suggested some potential candidates in the area. It was timely advice.”
Startup Runway provides valuable resources to female and minority entrepreneurs at every stage of growth. Applications are now open for the 2018 Spring and Fall Showcases.