The global pandemic changed the way women thought about their careers, with many choosing to leave their jobs in order to stay home and care for family members.
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West Tenth, a digital marketplace that is helping women turn nontraditional talents into flexible businesses run from home, closed $1.5 million in seed funding led by Better Ventures. Joining the firm was Stand Together Ventures Lab, Kapital Partners, The Community Fund, Backstage Capital, Wedbush Ventures and Gaingels. The funding gives West Tenth $1.75 million in total funding, according to Lyn Johnson, co-founder and CEO.
Johnson and Sara Sparhawk founded the Los Angeles-based company in 2019 after recognizing that many women turn to home-based businesses if traditional employment does not work out.
“We are supportive of women leaving the workforce, but terrible at supporting them on the way back in,” Johnson said. “As a result, women are turning to micro-entrepreneurship. However, it is hard to see all of those microbusinesses. Many are not on Google or Yelp and have to get word of mouth or be on some sort of social media.”
Prior to the pandemic, 28 million women in the United States did not participate in the workforce, Johnson told Crunchbase News. It is estimated that approximately 2.4 million women exited the workforce over the past year, compared with 1.8 million men, according to an NBC News report.
West Tenth’s app enables women to monetize their domestic talents, such as baking, photography or home organization, and then connects them with people in their communities who would like to purchase their products or services.
It is free to have a storefront on the app and people can purchase from the platform, with West Tenth collecting a portion of the purchases, Johnson said.
By Sparhawk’s count, there are more than 9 million home-based businesses, so the company will be using the new funds to build out its product team to get the marketplace into more hands, providing education and a community. The company is also spearheading a program called “The Foundry by West Tenth” that will have guest speakers and networking events focused on topics relevant to women, Sparhawk said in an interview.
The company’s marketplace started with 20 businesses and has grown to 600. It primarily operates in Southern California and Salt Lake City, and West Tenth is planning to expand into Boise and Phoenix later this year, but is also accepting new home-based businesses every day from women across the U.S.
Meanwhile, Lyndsey Boucherle, principle at Better Ventures, said in a written statement that the firm likes to back founders that are democratizing access to opportunity and prosperity.
“West Tenth provides a platform and community for women entrepreneurs to build their own businesses, at a time when women have left the workforce in record numbers,” Boucherle added. “We are excited to support their mission to enable these women to turn their skills and talents into successful home-based businesses.”
Feature photo of West Tenth co-founders Lyn Johnson and Sara Sparhawk, as well as app inset photo courtesy of the company.
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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