Five Years of Giving Back: Celebrating LiveOak Ventures’ $1M of Grants with LiveOak Gives

In the midst of recognizing 25 years of successful, early-stage investing in Texas by LiveOak Ventures’ founding partners, the firm celebrates a very special milestone within its community-focused initiative — the LiveOak Gives program. Since its inception 5 years ago, the program has now disbursed over $1 million in grants to 20 outstanding local non-profit organizations, reflecting LiveOak’s deep commitment to the ethos that the “rising tide should raise all boats” and not just the tech community.

In line with this ethos, the LiveOak Gives program leverages the scale of the LiveOak network to support local non-profit organizations that focus on the vulnerable populations across Texas in three categories: children, the elderly, and families/women trapped in poverty. As such, the program looks to enable inclusive growth in the broader community, especially organizations that are doing powerful work locally and poised to scale and thus embody the spirit and resilience of Texas.

The LiveOak Gives program selects organizations through an application process that looks for alignment with the firm’s values and priorities around supporting vulnerable groups and the ability for the grant to make a material difference in the magnitude of services and capabilities of the organization. In addition to the monetary benefits of the grant, these organizations also gain recognition and advocacy through several avenues. Their work is amplified via LiveOak’s social media channels which enables them to be spotlighted in local publications and also in community events where they can engage with the LiveOak network. These efforts have often led to subsequent manifold support for these organizations, which include additional monetary contributions, more volunteers, and community advocacy in general. As such, the goal of this program has been to deliver an impact to these organizations that is far greater than the $1M in grants over the 5 years. We are proud to have seen that come to fruition in numerous instances. 

This year’s campaign has supported the following organizations.

Age of Central Texas is a center designed for seniors who need help managing daily activities during the day or are at risk of feeling isolated and lonely. The center enables older adults to socialize with peers while receiving the care they need daily. Then they return to the comfort and familiarity of home at night with their family.

Chariot enriches lives and communities by providing transportation and socialization to non-driving seniors, helping them to age in place. Volunteer drivers provide rides for adults 60 and over for medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other necessary errands. 

Friends of Children connects children with unique talents to a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. They hire and train friends whose full-time jobs support our youth in succeeding despite the extremely challenging situations most experience, from as early as age 4 through high school graduation.

Women’s Fund was founded in 2004 to focus on the needs of women in Central Texas and a strong belief that investing in women has significant ripple effects in the community.  The Women’s Fund makes nonprofit grants in housing, education, child care, and women’s health to support women’s economic security in Central Texas.

LiveOak Scholars is an exciting proprietary initiative being launched by LiveOak Ventures to support and empower Texas high school seniors interested in studying business or STEM fields at a Texas university. The team at LiveOak, and others in the portfolio, will be actively involved in the selection and ongoing mentoring of the awardees. The process is facilitated through the Austin Community Foundation (ACF), and students can indicate their interest in the LiveOak Scholars program while applying. By investing in the future of Texas high school seniors, LiveOak is continuing to commit to the long-term prosperity of the local community. 

From the program’s inception to this fifth-year milestone, the LiveOak Gives program is proud to have supported these organizations that are already making a significant difference in the community.

A Heartfelt Thank You

This program wouldn’t be possible without the consistent generous support of Joe Aragona, Jim Breyer, and John & Erin Thornton, alongside numerous current and former CEOs and founders within our portfolio and the broader LiveOak family. Their steadfast support and collaboration have been crucial to the growth and instrumental in scaling this program to make a significant impact.

We warmly invite all of you to remain involved and informed about our endeavors to enrich the community by visiting our website and following us on social media. Together, we are building a legacy that touches lives and uplifts spirits. 

Why We Invested in Merit Medicine: Changing the Healthcare Cost Landscape

We are excited to share that LiveOak Ventures led the $2M Seed in Merit Medicine. This investment is fueled by our conviction that Merit is transforming how self-funded employers manage their healthcare costs in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry.

The landscape of employer-funded healthcare has witnessed a quiet yet monumental shift, with a significant portion of the workforce now reliant on self-funded health plans. In these plans, employers bear the direct financial burden for their employees’ healthcare costs. As a consequence, Stop Loss (“SL”) insurance becomes not just a prudent risk mitigation tool but an indispensable one — albeit with financial implications that can be staggering. Self-funded employers, especially those in the mid-market with a workforce strength of under 15,000, are finding themselves in the vise of ballooning SL premiums, driven by growth in high-cost specialty medicines and aggressive pricing from healthcare providers. These spiraling costs place immense pressure on employers, creating an urgent need for efficient and innovative cost management solutions.

The current market offerings for risk assessment of employee health are underwhelming at best. They operate at two extremes: either overly simplistic analyses or prohibitively costly consulting services. This is where technology can bridge the gap, and Merit Medicine stands ready to lead such a transition.

Merit provides AI-powered predictive model that deconstructs and analyzes third-party claims and employee data. It identifies crucial health condition trends and accurately forecasts potential high-cost drug utilization. This intelligence enables employers not only to anticipate health risks but also to determine appropriate SL coverage levels, which could translate to significant cost savings and return on investment.

Driving this transformation is the Merit Medicine team, which brings a unique blend of expertise in drug pricing, healthcare analytics, and actuarial modeling. Their domain experience — including stints at Genentech, Aetion, Morgan Health,  and The Advisory Board — provides the team with an unmatched perspective on tackling the pressing needs of self-funded healthcare.

We couldn’t be more excited to support Merit Medicine as they provide clarity and cost visibility into a sector previously marked by economic uncertainty and complexity. Merit Medicine is ready to redefine the playbook for employer health coverage, empowering self-funded employers to harness cost-effective and pragmatic healthcare strategies.

Investing in Perigon: Unleashing Contextual Intelligence at Scale

We’re excited to share that LiveOak Ventures led the $5M Seed in Perigon. This investment is a testament to the significant market opportunity, the quality of the team, and the strength of Perigon’s contextual intelligence capabilities.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, content generation across the web is happening at an unprecedented rate. This content comes from a myriad of sources, ranging from ultra-local and niche to global publishers. As a result, there has been a diffusion of what is considered authoritative and conclusive on any given topic. At the same time, there is an even greater thirst for such content by both consumers and business practitioners. With so much information available and so many sources to vet, it can be challenging for businesses in particular to sort through the noise and extract signals to drive decisions. Insert Perigon.

In mathematics, a perigon is an angle of 360°. True to its name, Perigon’s technology aims to redefine how businesses scour sources comprehensively and contextually to uncover insights that might otherwise go unnoticed. Through a proprietary process that extracts raw data from millions of inputs and data sources daily and then filters, enriches, clusters, and summarizes, Perigon is able to distill terabytes of data into structured, real-time feeds with API access and help ultimately drive actionable decisions. Perigon already serves over 70 customers across a range of industries including financial services, supply chain, government, and media.

We are thrilled to partner with a stellar team that is uniquely positioned to tackle this problem. Joshua Dziabiak, CEO and co-founder of Perigon, is the definition of a serial entrepreneur. Having founded his first startup at age 14, Perigon is Joshua’s 5th startup endeavor, and has been a savant on the creative use of data and performance marketing methods to unlock and scale business models. Prior to Perigon, Joshua co-founded the insurance comparison site, The Zebra. Joshua teamed up with Emmy-winning innovator Josh Rickel to build Perigon. Josh brings a wide range of startup experience across entertainment, media, SaaS, venture capital, and government. Earlier in his career, Josh led sales and marketing at Mass Relevance through its acquisition by Spredfast, culminating in a successful acquisition by Vista Equity Partners in 2018. Their combined vision and expertise were evident from our very first conversation.

It comes as no surprise that the Perigon team has been able to deliver so much value to dozens of customers, many of them household names, in a short amount of time. Perigon’s customers span a wide range of industries that demonstrate the value and versatility of their technology. One example is in the field of financial intelligence, where Perigon goes beyond traditional market news to provide time series data that can enhance algorithms and financial models. Investors and analysts (in this case, the end users) can track unlimited keywords and companies, monitor brand, market, or industry news, discover buy/sell signals, and analyze the perceived sentiment of a publication to predict the market’s reaction.

Another use case is in risk intelligence. Perigon’s news API allows businesses to track real-time event data that may impact their operations, staff, supply chain, or brand. Perigon’s entity, aspect, and topic extraction tracks relevant mentions across sources that are intelligently classified into real-time risk signals, allowing companies to stay ahead of potential disruptions. Their smart classification system distinguishes between hard news and soft news or opinions, while dynamic geo-location and time series tags pinpoint where and when events occur.

The examples we encountered in customer diligence calls underscore a clear “why now” for Perigon. At its core, AI has fundamentally transformed the way businesses think about utilizing unstructured and structured data to deliver valuable analytics.We believe this trend will continue to accelerate the need for clean, structured data products – whether consumed as a key input in what’s now an exploding number of AI/ML models, or directly by an end user.

From a business perspective, Perigon has been incredibly capital efficient, outpacing inferior products that incumbents have taken years to build. In our diligence process, customers consistently praised Perigon’s superior ability to ingest, de-duplicate, and organize a long tail of data sources in a clean way. With features like story summarization, clustering, categorization, sentiment analysis, and enrichment, Perigon has quickly become a trusted partner for leading companies worldwide.

As the first institutional money in, backing visionary entrepreneurs looking to tackle large underserved markets with distinctive technology, Perigon is middle of the fairway for what constitutes a “LiveOak deal”. Here’s to the beginning of an exciting partnership!

LiveOak Ventures Goes “All-In” on New Brand

Embarking on an exciting journey into the next decade, LiveOak’s founding partners proudly celebrate their 25th year of successful, early-stage investing in Texas. Over a decade ago, they founded LiveOak based on the conviction that Texas had all the DNA for a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and that a venture capital firm that was maniacally focused on Texas entrepreneurs would be the key catalyst to unlock the market’s full potential. Today, that belief has been validated. In the past decade, LiveOak’s partners have helped create about $5 billion in enterprise value and led/co-led over 60 high-growth investments in Texas-based leaders, such as AmplifAI, DISCO (NYSE: LAW), Eventus, Homeward, OJO Labs, Osano, SchooLinks, Take Command Health, and many more, some starting at inception. The firm was honored at the inaugural Austin A-List Awards in 2022 as the Venture Capital Firm of the Year and received the Austin Gives Charitable Champion award.

Looking forward, in line with our successful and proven investment strategy, which has led to us becoming the leading venture investor in Texas, we are now unveiling a significant rebrand. This brand transformation goes beyond a change in name to LiveOak Ventures or a visual shift; we are embracing a tagline that epitomizes our all-in unwavering commitment towards Texas-based founders and the broader vibrant Texas community that we proudly call home.

#1: All-in on Founders

Our commitment to founders takes center stage. We’re here to support you every step of the way. Beyond just providing capital, we will actively assist you in all aspects of company building. As dedicated team players and strategic advisors, we promise to hustle just as hard as you do. We understand the challenges of your entrepreneurial journey and approach collaboration with empathy and transparency. Leveraging our full team, combined experiences, and deep networks, we will work alongside you to help build enduring businesses.

#2: All-in on Texas

Our roots run deep in the Lone Star State, and our rebrand mirrors our pride in the unique spirit and resilience that define Texas. From the thriving tech ecosystem in Austin, Dallas, and Houston to emerging innovation hubs across the state, we are passionate about fostering local talent and contributing to the growth of our dynamic community.

#3: All-in on Community

At LiveOak, community is more than just a buzzword; it’s ingrained in our DNA based on the conviction that our efforts ought to be, metaphorically, like a rising tide that raises all boats and not just the handful of entrepreneurs we back. That emphasis has translated to us seeding LiveOak Launch (an initiative to support women leaders in the community), our participation in countless panel discussions, hosting community networking events, and taking board roles in notable local non-profits. Above all, we are proudest of the LiveOak Gives Program, an annual initiative that leverages the scale of the LiveOak network to support local non-profit organizations that focus on the vulnerable populations in our community—children, the elderly, and families trapped in poverty. We are excited to announce the close of our fifth campaign and have collectively surpassed $1M in grants to 20 organizations.

The Next Decade and Beyond

As we double down on our Texas entrepreneur-focused strategy, we remain steadfast in establishing strong foundations that contribute to the development of future leaders. This exciting new chapter lays the groundwork for industry-shaping investments and to make a positive impact. Our team is energized, our vision is clear, and we are ready to support the bold ideas that will define the next era of innovation.

To our founders, partners, and the entire LiveOak Ventures community, we thank you for over a decade of collaboration, trust, and shared successes. We invite you to join us on this exhilarating journey into the next decade and beyond, where we will continue to be All In on Founders, Texas, and Community.