NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Emilie Poteat PhD, the founder and CEO of Advocate, a groundbreaking AI driven platform that helps workers and veterans apply for government benefits more simply, safely and easily, today announced that the company has raised over $4 million in seed funding.
The company brings together leaders in the tech and government sectors including the former Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart and former VA Secretary David Shulkin who will both join Advocate as advisors.
Designed to work alongside expert human case managers, Advocate’s technology will ensure case filings are accurate, comprehensive, and in compliance with all pertinent government rules and regulations before submission.
The financing round was led by Lerer Hippeau and included an investment by Khosla Ventures.
“Accessing government benefits is nearly impossible for most Americans. The government disability benefits system is cumbersome, outdated and frustratingly difficult to navigate,” said Emilie Poteat PhD, the founder and CEO of Advocate. ”We employ the latest technological and algorithmic advancements to simplify this process and help both recipients and government staff alike. I am delighted to partner with these world renowned disability experts and leading innovators as we work to help tens of millions of Americans access the benefits they deserve.”
“The government benefit system exists to provide financial protection for people with disabilities but, all too often, it offers a disheartening maze of paperwork and delays,” said former Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart. “Applying a modern technology solution will help alleviate the burden on the millions of disabled Americans who simply can’t afford to wait years in an outdated and underfunded processing system while their health and economic situation deteriorates.”
“I was honored to support the men and women that have served our great nation as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and I am honored to continue that mission by joining Advocate in the fight to help our veterans get the benefits they deserve,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin.
Government disability benefits account for over $200 billion in spending a year. According to the GAO, 109,000 people died while waiting for their benefits in the past full decade alone and over 48,000 declared bankruptcy.
Poteat, an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and disability advocate, founded Advocate after a difficult first-hand experience navigating the Social Security Disability Insurance process with her father following his stroke. She assembled a team of experts to apply cutting edge technological advancements to the problem. She also brought together leading disability experts including both former Social Security Commissioner, Jo Anne Barnhart, and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, who will join the company as advisors.
“For decades, government and public services have been behind the curve on the digital transformation we see in all other aspects of modern life,” said Caitlin Strandberg, Partner at Lerer Hippeau. “At its best, tech updates outdated, manual processes to better serve users. Emilie and her team have the right experience, technology, and solutions-driven approach to fix this fractured process and get benefits into the hands of the people who need and deserve them.”
Advocate is a groundbreaking technology platform that helps Americans access the government benefits they earned. The company will leverage innovative technology to help make applying for benefits straight-forward, simple, and easy. The company was founded by Emilie Poteat PhD, a disability rights advocate, scholar, and venture capitalist. She experienced the difficulties of the U.S. benefits system first hand while trying to help her father access benefits following a stroke. That experience inspired her to develop a better solution to help the tens of millions of Americans access the benefits they earned.
Lerer Hippeau is an early-stage venture capital firm founded and operated in New York City. Our portfolio includes more than 400 leading enterprise and consumer businesses including Guideline, MIRROR, Blockdaemon, K Health, Allbirds, ZenBusiness, and Thrive. We’re experienced operators who invest early and stay in our founders’ corners as they build iconic companies. Learn more at lererhippeau.com.