COVID-19 Startups

Chief Raises $15M To Expand Network For Women Leaders

Illustration of woman at work.

Chief, the private network for women leaders, has raised $15 million in a new round of funding to expand into new cities.

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Chief offers peer group experiences, an online platform, and event programming meant to connect and support women leaders.

The company is backed by investors including General Catalyst, GGV Capital and Primary Venture Partners, and has raised $40 million to date.

“Our goal has always been creating a network that has the most powerful women that can really affect change from the top down,” co-founder Lindsay Kaplan said in an interview with Crunchbase News.

The idea for Chief came about as Kaplan and co-founder/CEO Carolyn Childers advanced in their own careers. As both entered more senior roles and spent time managing and mentoring others, their pool of execs to serve as coaches to them personally became smaller.

Chief is open to women who are C-level or rising vice presidents of organizations. Women have to apply to join, and are vetted for quantitative factors (how many people they manage, the size of the company they work for, etc.). Qualitative factors, like what a woman wants to gain from Chief, are also considered. The company reviews applications and the membership team talks to applicants over the phone.

The network currently has more than 2,000 members, and there are more than 8,000 people on the waitlist. Chief is currently operating in New York with plans to roll out in Los Angeles and Chicago later this summer.

Chief wanted to raise the new round for the next phase of the company, post-LA and Chicago expansion, Childers said.

How it works

Membership costs $7,900 per year for women who are at the C-suite level, and $5,800 for women who are at the VP level. The majority of the memberships are sponsored by the companies of the women who join the network, Childers said, and the cost is significantly less than what companies would pay for executive coaching. And, according to Kaplan, “off-the-shelf” executive coaching just doesn’t cut it anymore for women in leadership positions.

As members, women have access to peer groups (called Core Groups) and programs like leadership workshops and community roundtables, according to a statement from the company. The Core Groups are Chief’s signature service–something Childers calls “executive coaching on steroids.” Women not only receive help from an executive coach, but also the perspectives of women across industries who have gone through or are going through similar experiences.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief had to move its services online, although the company has a clubhouse in New York and plans to have them in LA and Chicago as well. With services moved online, the company saw engagement and satisfaction levels of the services rise, Childers said.

“The opportunities to expand are so much bigger because we know how valuable the digital experience can be, which is such a different, interesting way to scale,” Childers said.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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