Healthcare co-op Savvy snags venture funding from

Savvy, a healthcare cooperative, has just raised an undisclosed amount of funding from

Established as a cooperative that shares profits with its users, Savvy connects patients with healthcare companies and other providers looking to better serve people through products and services. Patients can take paid gigs that include tasks like interviews, focus groups and user testing.

Savvy is set up as a multi-stakeholder cooperative. Those stakeholders are divided into four classes: patients, Savvy employees, founders and investors. Up until now, Savvy has been entirely bootstrapped and sustained by its revenue, Savvy CEO Jen Horonjeff told TechCrunch via email.

“But as more and more companies are seeing that patient insights are critical to help their healthcare solutions find product-market fit, we need to scale up our operations to meet the demand,” she said. “This financing will allow us to expand our offerings, support more companies and, in turn, improve the lives of countless more patients.”

Cooperatives can oftentimes face trouble raising venture funding. That’s because their business models don’t generally align with the incentives of traditional venture capitalists, Horonjeff previously told me.

“I have to say a lot of investors are, first of all, not curious,” she said. “And those that are curious — and we’ve gone down the path with people like that — think we’re this cool new thing, but just don’t understand how it’s going to jive with the rest of their fund. So there aren’t great mechanisms in place to kind of bridge the gap between what people know and what the new economy could look like.”

For, which already takes a non-traditional approach to venture capital, co-ops fit into the firm’s vision., which aims to be the last investment its founders need to take, is geared toward startups with founders who value preserving nationality and ownership.

As founder Bryce Roberts said in a statement, “Savvy represents everything we’d like to see in the future of impact business — shared ownership, diverse perspectives, and aligned incentives, tackling one of the largest industries on the planet.”

Co-op helps Uber, Lyft drivers use data to maximize earnings

As we have previously reported, an increasing number of startups are exploring cooperative business models where workers (and sometimes users) are owners in the company. Driver’s Seat, which participated in the first batch of the accelerator, is one such example. 

Driver’s Seat is designed to help gig workers own and use their data so they can maximize their income. It works by first requiring ride-hail drivers to install an app that educates them about how the co-op collects and uses their data. In exchange, the app gives them insights about their real hourly wages after expenses and how those wages relate to different driving strategies.

For example, Driver’s Seat helps drivers determine when and where they should drive when it’s slow and can calculate the odds of making driver bonuses via Uber, Lyft and other ride-hail platforms. Driver’s Seat then aggregates all of the data to market it to cities, municipalities and state governments that require this information for planning purposes. 

“These folks are hungry to support ride-hail drivers and make ride-hailing work better in their cities,” Driver’s Seat founder and CEO Hays Witt tells TechCrunch.

City agencies can use this data to make better decisions about transportation planning as it relates to congestion, pollution, curb allocation and affordable transit. The proceeds from those contracts then go back to the drivers via dividends.

The case for cooperative tech startups

When Uber and Lyft went public, it wasn’t the drivers who got rich — it was the executives, investors and some early employees. In an era when it has become clear that tech executives and investors are frequently the only ones who’ll reap rewards for a company’s success, cooperative startups are getting more attention.

Depending on how it’s set up, a cooperative model offers workers and users true ownership and control in a company; any profits that are generated are returned to the members or reinvested in the company.

Co-ops aren’t new: The nation’s longest-running example is The Philadelphia Contributionship, a mutually owned insurance company founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. In 1895, the International Co-operative Alliance formed to serve as a way to unite cooperatives across the world. Some colleges have student-run housing co-ops where cleaning, food preparation and other responsibilities are shared. Today, there are many well-known large-scale co-ops, including outdoor recreation store REI, Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco and Blue Diamond Growers, one of the world’s largest tree-nut processors.

What’s novel, however, is applying the co-op model to technology startups., an accelerator for cooperative startups, is just one group trying to facilitate that practice.

Not your typical startup: How being a cooperative drives our business and product development

Our French startup Digicoop is a remote-first worker cooperative. We started the company in 2015, based on our shared values and passion for technology. The goal was simple: make good products that will have a positive impact on companies. The road to funding, not so simple.

Due to our unique business model, which focuses on building a sustainable company, we had to forego venture capital and convince lots of players to take a chance. The effort paid off. Here’s a look at why we chose to be a co-op, how we got the funding, and how it drives our product development.

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Raison d’être

Unlike many startups, Digicoop wasn’t founded because of a particular product. Our story is a bit different. In 2015, a few friends and former colleagues came together to work on projects they were passionate about. Initially we didn’t know what those would be, but we quickly figured out the theme: collaborative work tools for teams. 

Making that our focus was no coincidence. We recognized that the workplace was changing: distributed teams were becoming more common, and with that more transparency and an increased cross-team collaboration necessary. We became frustrated with traditional work tools and processes, as they were no longer enough.

We saw an opportunity to develop products suitable for the digital future, but that wasn’t our only driver. Being passionate about technology and the impact it can have on the society, we set out to build tools that could make a positive difference. The idea was to empower employees, not only managers.

Our shared values and vision of the workplace were the reason we decided to go against the grain and structure Digicoop as a worker cooperative (called SCOP in France), giving each employee a real stake in the company.

SCOP: We’re all in this together