Gender equality recruitment startup WORK180 has secured $1 million in funding, in a seed funding round led by Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar’s private investment firm, Skip Capital.
Three years after launching the startup, which focuses on finding the best landing places for women in the workforce, co-chief executive and founder Gemma Lloyd is excited to now begin expanding the business globally.
WORK180, previously known as DCC Jobs, claims to be the only online jobs board to make information such as pay equality, flexible working, paid parental leave and women in leadership roles available to their users. Every company looking to advertise with the platform is screened against a set of 20 criteria.
The process of diligently expanding the business and obtaining external funding began over a year ago.
“We found that it was very important to get to know the potential investors,” Lloyd tells StartUpSmart.
“It is a very time-consuming process. We started having soft discussions with investors about a year ago, and I really started to focus on it once we had a plan in place, which was a little bit before Christmas.”
On making the decision to begin the actual process, Lloyd stopped focusing on customer engagement and started to meet with potential investors. WORK180 had $2.2 million in offers within six weeks.
The company opted to go in the direction of Skip Capital, with Lloyd praising principal Kim Jackson as a major factor in the decision.
“Kim really believed in our mission. One of the things that has been amazing is how engaged she has been. We can call her at any time and run things by her without it being overbearing at the same time,” she said.
WORK180 is also receiving funding from the co-founders of Lux Group, who Lloyd respected for building a startup from the ground.
“We also chose the co-founders of Lux Group because they have an incredible background of growing their funding from scratch. They built their startup close to $200m in without any external funding,” Lloyd says.
“They are also very prominent in the digital marketing space, something that is obviously extremely important in this space.”
Other investors include Thomas Rice, Lead Tech Analyst at Perpetual, and Australian startup accelerator Startmate.
Lloyd says the new funding will be used to grow the brand internationally, with WORK180 launching in the UK this Thursday.
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“We are lucky enough to have had a strong revenue stream, meaning we were able to plan for the future without waiting for the investors’ money to come into our bank account,” Lloyd says.
“Over the next 12 months our plan is to expand into the UK and into the United States as well. Because we work with a lot of international companies, there is a lot of pull for us to get dragged out with, we have to remind ourselves not to go all guns blazing!”
Gemma Lloyd and her co-chief executive, Valeria Ignatieva, have bold plans for the business, which Lloyd believes are attainable within just four years.
“We want to be the number one women’s platform by 2022. We have had a huge amount of growth but it is about more than that,” she says.
“We have rejected companies from advertising with us that didn’t meet our criteria and they have gone on to review their processes, closed the pay gap and added parental leave.”
Advice for other startups
Lloyd believes startup that are looking for funding should keep a number of things in mind when attempting to meet with investors.
“In the beginning, I put investors on a pedestal, but realistically, you want to make sure you go in with the right investors. It’s essentially a marriage for the next ten years,” she says.
“It’s also important to ask investors for referrals to other investors. Blackbird introduced me to a number of different investors … It’s so important to get different feedback on your pitch deck.”
Lloyd describes looking for investors as very much like a job interview. It is as much about an investor finding the correct investment as it is about the company finding the correct investor, she says.