Woman- and minority-owned Five to Nine secured $4.25 million to advance its mission of transforming the employee engagement experience.
According to TechCrunch, the management software company raised the multimillion-dollar funds in a seed round led by Black Ops Ventures. Other participating investors in the round include Slack Fund and Cleveland Avenue.
This feat means that co-founders Jasmine Shells and Denise Umubyeyi represent a small group within the 250 Black women who’ve raised more than $1 million in venture capital, the outlet reported.
Shells, the CEO, and Umubyeyi launched the Chicago-based Five to Nine in 2018. The company serves as an “enterprise SaaS platform that helps companies manage and measure their employee engagement initiatives,” per the company website.
Shells, a 2021 graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told her alma mater’s newspaper why she was motivated to establish Five to Nine. As a former IT consultant, she realized that the “process was extremely manual,” and the company “only used e-mail and spreadsheets,” adding “how hard it was for a person like myself to manage these programs without any tools,” per Chibus.com.
She also noted “how it was near impossible for the business to understand how these programs impacted employee retention and productivity without any data.”
These realizations birthed the idea to build what she refers to as the “Eventbrite for Corporations,” also known as Five to Nine.
For the seed round, Black Ops Ventures was captivated by the team’s commitment to helping promote an equitable workplace. With this, Five to Nine aims to increase workplace connectivity and inclusion while also providing data analytics on the success of Employee Resource Groups (ERG).
“Over 90% of the Fortune 100 companies have ERGs, but less than 10% of companies have any data on how their ERGs are working,” Shells said, per TechCrunch.
Through seamless integrations, Five to Nine has landed clients such as Slack, Yahoo, UpWork, Expedia, and more. With hopes of securing AirBnB, the winning team hopes to allocate the new funding for doubling its clientele. They also plan to develop new products, increase hiring, and expand engineering teams.
“All employers are trying to learn as the world of work is changing and evolving. They’re trying to figure out what employees need to feel like they belong,” Black Ops Ventures Managing Partner Heather Hiles said, according to the outlet. “[Shells and Umubyeyi] are serving a need.”