Ensuring innovation: American Family Ventures

Improving the lives of policyholders
Ensuring innovation: American Family Ventures

Ensuring innovation: American Family VenturesPart of American Family Insurance’s tagline is “dream fearlessly”–and it’s an appropriate nod to American Family Ventures, the insurance company’s venture capital group that started in 2013.

AFV’s angle is investing in companies that can improve the lives of policyholders and mitigate risks in the home. The group has already invested in such businesses as Ring, a Wi-Fi video doorbell; Madison-based Abodo, an apartment listing service; and Revolv, a home automation solutions platform (sold to Nest), among others. Managing director Dan Reed says AFV is also heavily involved in the local entrepreneurial community. AFV is a sponsor of gener8tor, the new StartingBlock initiative, the Wisconsin Technology Council, the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In fact, American Family Insurance just pledged $40 million to the university over the next ten years. “We aspire to be a leader in providing ‘proactive protection’ to customers and communities, seeking and supporting innovations that inspire and help them,” says Reed.

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to return to the 2015 M List.