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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

U-M startup Give and Takeinc secures $2.2 million to launch platform that will help enterprises scale knowledge collaboration and build giving cultures


Ann Arbor-based Give and Take Inc., a tech startup that allows employees at companies to better collaborate and share knowledge, announced Thursday morning that it has raised a seed funding round of $2.2 million and launched the beta version of its software platform, called Givitas.

The company raised the money from Ann Arbor-based RPM Ventures, Grand Rapids-based Grand Ventures, Detroit-based Invest Michigan, angel investors and Larry Freed, who has become the CEO.

The funding will be used to continued development of the Givitas platform, marketing and staffing.

Give and Take is based on research at the University of Michigan and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Its founders are Wayne Baker, a professor at the Ross School of Business at UM; Cheryl Baker, Wayne Baker’s wife and co-creator of the Reciprocity Ring, an organizational exercise that has been sold to Fortune 500 companies and top business schools; and Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton.

Freed was the founder of ForeSee Results Inc., an Ann Arbor-based Web analytics company founded in 2001 as a joint venture of UM and Detroit-based Compuware Corp. It was sold in 2013 for 22 times its original investment.

The next year, Freed and former members of his management team at ForeSee founded 2nd Stage Partners in Ann Arbor to help growing companies go from early stage to business maturity. According to Crain’s estimates, ForeSee had revenue of about $42 million in 2013.

“Fortune 500 companies lose more than $31.5 billion a year when employees fail to share knowledge effectively, and two-thirds of Americans are not engaged at work, costing up to $600 billion each year,” Freed said in a news release “These are issues that hit close to home for every business leader. Smart companies understand that empowering and enabling employees to share knowledge and information easily, efficiently, and effectively not only fosters a giving culture, but also speeds up response times, drives employee engagement and improves business outcomes.”

“We’ve been helping companies leverage the concepts of generalized reciprocity and social capital to improve business outcomes since 1999,” Wayne Baker said. “It’s exciting that we can now use technology to scale these concepts and bring them to a much wider audience.”

“Michigan has an incredibly rich startup environment, and Larry and his team have proven they know how to build and deliver best-in-class technology solutions,” said Tony Grover, a managing partner at RPM Ventures, the lead investor. “Give and Take is poised to bridge the gap between existing knowledge management platform and collaboration software, making it easy and natural to ask for or give help in less than five minutes a day.”