Beam, which operates a public benefits platform, has raised $6.4 million in a Series A funding round — news that the New York-based company presented in the context of growing fears of a recession, higher interest rates and other economic anxieties.
Potencia Ventures led the funding round, which also included Spring Point Partners, American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, Imaginable Figures, Lumina Impact Ventures, Michelson Runway and Schmidt Futures — the last of which has recently promoted its own effort to encourage more technology innovation around benefit deliveries.
Beam’s platform, according to a statement, is designed to help public agencies administer rent and utility relief programs, streamline benefit applications, process payments and deal with compliance, reporting and case management, among other tasks.
The general idea is to bring more digital, data-driven and automated processes to this part of the local and state government workload. Beam says that mission is taking on more importance not just because of economic worries but because of worker shortages among public agencies that are slowing down benefit administration.
Since the pandemic started in 2020, the company has administered more than $180 million to about 300,000 U.S. households, according to the statement. Beam, founded in 2016, was once known as Edquity and focused on student needs.
“With widening wealth gaps and economic conditions only working for a small percentage of the population, there has never been a greater need to bridge generational equity gaps and bring dignity to the American social safety net,” said David Helene, CEO and founder of Beam, in that statement. “After seeing our impact working in the education space to get emergency aid to students, we realized we could apply our technology and learnings to other government programs to get critical services to our most vulnerable populations.”
The new capital for Beam comes as more local and public agencies try to streamline and upgrade benefit administration — and so many other areas of work — and as officials deal with mistakes, theft and other problems around benefits that happened during the COVID-19 outbreak. Recent examples related to those trends include the discovery of a technical “glitch” that locked Pennsylvania residents out of nutrition and food programs and an overhaul of the Michigan unemployment insurance system, in part to better combat fraud.