Five to Nine raises $4.25M in seed round to help improve efficiency of DEI initiatives – TechCrunch
Five to Nine, which makes event management software, closed an initial $4.25 million round led by Black Ops Ventures.
Launched in 2018, the Company program enables organizations to plan programs for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which enable employees who share characteristics or experiences to meet, share resources, and connect.
Five to Nine also provides attendance and feedback analytics for ERG events so companies can measure the effectiveness of their ERG programs.
Jasmine Shells, co-founder and CEO of Five to Nine, told TechCrunch that she was inspired to launch the company after experiencing the pain of helping an ERG. “We’ve been using everything from email to Survey Monkey to our conversations to piece together event programs, and hack four to five tools together to get the job done,” Shiels said.
She, along with Denise Umubyeyi, created Five to Nine to bring the tools needed to manage internal events into a single platform. The company already counts Yahoo, UpWork, and Expedia as clients, and the product integrates with Okta, Workday, and Slack.
Other investors on the round include Slack Fund and Cleveland Avenue, with Mike Jamson, Sterling Road and Concrete Rose Capital as recurring investors.
With the new funding, Five to Nine plans to expand its engineering teams, create new products and increase hiring. It also hopes to double its customer count, with Shells calling AirBnB a dream customer.
“More than 90% of Fortune 100 companies have ERGs, but less than 10% of companies have any data on how ERGs work,” Shells said. “What we are doing is very much needed in the market.”
“It was perfect timing”
By attracting more than 100 investors, Shells says it took about four months to close the incorporation round. The increase makes Shells and Omopei two of fewer than 250 black women who have raised more than $1 million in venture capital.
Last year, less than 0.5% of the record $330 billion in venture capital went to black women founders — a slice of the estimated 1.3% that went to black entrepreneurs, according to Crunchbase data. A break came five to nine after James Norman She called Sheels one day, and he presented her with his plan to start what would become the Black Ops Venture Fund.
“More than 90% of the Fortune 100 companies have ERGs, but less than 10% of the companies have any data on how their ERGs work.” Jasmine Shils, Co-Founder and CEO of Five to Nine
Talk to TechCrunch, Managing Partner of Black Ops Ventures Heather Hills Shiels and Umubyeyi hit the team with incredibly savvy wisdom and experience. The reward was the company’s commitment to help promote an equitable workplace. One advantage of Five to Nine is its ability to provide analysis on the success of their respective ERG initiatives.
The data also helps highlight ERG leaders who are often burdened with diversity taxes, known as the pressure minority workers feel in workplace settings to participate in diversity initiatives. These chiefs work tirelessly to run ERG communities with no overtime and little recognition, and the data hopes to show the impact of ERG leaders through their work, Shiels said.
“All employers try to learn because the world of work is changing and evolving. They are trying to figure out what employees need to feel they belong in,” Helles said.[Shells and Umubyeyi] serve a need.”
Their family legacy continues
growing up, Shells watched her father leave a company job to start a company.
It was a grueling process, says Shiels, remembering how the number of Christmas presents fluctuated each year. However, the business management journey had her excited, and it helped her with accounting and payroll. Later, she was studying Accounting and Business at the University of Notre Dame, where she met Umobi. Soon she left her job in the company to start from Five to Nine.
Born in Rwanda, she moved around Tanzania and Zambia as a child, noticing how her parents used entrepreneurship to support themselves and the communities in which they live.
After moving to the United States in 2005, Omobij studied political science at the University of Notre Dame, believing that this was the way to create positive change. Eventually, I realized that creating a business can have the same effect.
“I saw entrepreneurship as a way to not only create a legacy for you and your family, but also a way to help the community and bring others with you,” said Omobi.
She expects programs such as Five to Nine to see increased demand as DEI initiatives receive more support from companies. The five-to-nine goal, she said, is to stand up front.
“My dad said that even if you don’t go to business school, you can still do it,” Umopei said. “Jasmine and I have shown over the past year that it is possible.”
revision: An earlier version of this story miscalculated how much the seed round was and how long it took to seal it. It’s $4.25 million, not $4.5 million, and it took about four months to close, not six.