Today we’re thrilled to announce that Neighborly raised a $5.5 million seed round. The investment was led by Joe Lonsdale at Formation 8, matched by Ashton Kutcher at Sound Ventures, with participation from an all-star cast¹.

Neighborly is rewiring the way communities fund the public projects that citizens want and need. By allowing citizens to invest in the schools, parks and infrastructure that matter most to them, Neighborly strengthens the social and financial fabric of our nation’s places and rebuilds our nation as the land of opportunity. Replacing extractive finance with regenerative finance also unlocks a new era of civic innovation, one characterized by the rapid delivery of public projects that communities want, rather than the projects banks profit from the most.

We thank all of our investors for believing in us, and for enabling the journey. They’re a diverse group, with a broad range of interests. But they all share at least three common threads:

  1. They all believe in why this matters, trusting us fully with what and how.
  2. They all know that the pursuit of our vision — that anyone should be able to invest in anywhere — is both incredibly complicated, and also worth doing.
  3. They share our commitment to building an enduring company, even if it takes longer to do so.

Innovation in general is tough work. Innovating in public finance, especially so. To help bring about a new era of community finance, Neighborly’s building a world class team and problem-solving culture, built around engineers. What we’re doing weaves together some of the most challenging computational problems around. Imagine using machine learning and language processing algorithms to turn complex financial statements into actionable data. Or processing a mountain of real-time market data so that it’s possible (and fun!) for the next generation of investors to invest in their community. And then imagine doing all of this to reinvent an industry that still uses fax machines. (Are you one of us?)

So why are we doing this?

Why subject ourselves to such daunting challenges, when there are countless easier ways to build a massive venture?

The full answer to this question goes much deeper than the painfully obvious need to modernize the way we finance our communities. While the subject invisibly affects us all, it’s deeply personal: I had a fairly rough early childhood in a rural Midwestern town. Early home and school life were very difficult as a result.

Fortunately, though, I had an otherworldly strong mother and later a stepfather, a handful of teachers who saw past the issues, and critically, a home town that invested in a well-maintained network of parks with playgrounds. Those parks played a critical role in my early childhood, as the only places I could really be a kid, where I could imagine something greater than the situation at hand. Those parks helped me turn out to be (somewhat!) normal, despite otherwise insuperable circumstances.

Then I earned the chance to study cities around the world, and saw firsthand that civic amenities like parks are far from a given, even in our own nation. In fact, in an era of tightening budgets, parks are among the first items to be considered inessential.

The force driving us to defund parks is also why we defund art programs at public schools, community centers, libraries, and other vital amenities necessary to shaping strong, well-rounded citizens. Right now, the fabric of our nation’s places seems to be unraveling, but it’s not because there’s too little money to fund civic amenities. It’s because of the extractive nature with which our globalized civic finance system currently operates, and the inevitable decisions our communities are forced to make as a result of that system’s consequences.

What Neighborly is building matters, because it can help rebuild our nation as the land of opportunity for all, where staples of civic life like parks are a given. What we’re building is an engine through which value flows into playgrounds and schools, rather than banker bonuses.

So yes, it’s incredibly challenging work. But it’s also worth doing. And it needs to be done. And, thanks to our visionary investors, we’re assembling the right team to make it happen.

Are you one of us?

Neighborly Technology Diagram

We operate at the intersection of three fascinating spaces

The problem of community finance exists at the intersection of financial, government, and civic technologies. The Neighborly Team is on a mission to usher in a new era of community finance, one in which people, like you, guide the nature and scale of what is built in our cities. We believe deeply that transparency and democratized access are cornerstones of an efficient market. And that the $1 billion per day civic capital market should enjoy the same tech innovations currently revolutionizing all other lending markets. Are you one of us?

PS here’s a streamlined version of our seed round pitch deck:

¹ Thank you Joe & Formation8, Ashton & Sound Ventures, Bee Partners, Maven Ventures, Structure Capital, Ben Narasin, 500 Startups, Terrence Rohan, Andrew Merkatz, Max Fram-Schwartz, Sanjay Singhal, Lisa Gansky, Vinny Lingham, & an all-star cast on AngelList.

And a very special thank you to Lesa, Drew, and Bo.