Crowdfunding / Technology

Brooklyn food stamp startup raises $4M from Andreessen Horowitz, Kevin Durant

Propel makes it easier for people to check and manage their EBT balance. It now has some big-name backers.

Jimmy Chen, cofounder of Propel, at the Robin Hood Foundation's Unplugged talk. (Photo courtesy of Robin Hood Foundation)

As goes the Make It In BK pitch competition, so goes Andreessen Horowitz, as the old Brooklyn tech world saying goes.

Propel, the app for checking and managing SNAP benefits by phone, announced Thursday it raised $4 million in seed funding to grow its product. Joining Andreessen Horowitz in the round was NBA star Kevin Durant’s Durant Company, WinWin Ventures, Financial Solutions Lab, Omidyar Network, Jay Borenstein, and SciFi VC.

Propel comes out of the civic tech incubator Blue Ridge Labs, a part of the Robin Hood Foundation, located in Cobble Hill. Propel’s founder, Jimmy Chen has worked at LinkedIn, and most recently was a product manager at Facebook. We at Technical.ly Brooklyn ranked Propel No. 8 in our 2017 top startups list.

“I think it comes from a belief that technology has a lot of potential to create social change,” Chen said in an interview last December at the Make It In BK pitch competition. He added:

We’ve seen the power of tech when applied to companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I grew up in a low-income family. We were always very loving and very supportive but we sometimes had trouble putting food on the table. I ended up getting a full ride to Stanford. I then had a kind of traditional Silicon Valley career. I worked for LinkedIn out of college then got a job at Facebook running a product team and, I think in some ways, Propel is become full circle and using some of the skills I gained in Silicon Valley to solve some of the problems I feel very strongly about.

The company’s next product is called easyfoodstamps.com, an app that makes the process of applying for food stamps considerably easier. It’s still in beta, but you can try a demo here.

Companies: Propel / Andreessen Horowitz
Series: Brooklyn

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