Levo League, a career coaching site for young women and Lean In’s Gen Y partner, announced this morning that it has raised $7 million in angel funding to expand its operations.
Levo, which offers a mix of mentoring, classes and job postings, is the largest workplace site for Gen Y women, reaching eight million women. They already received $1.25 million from seed investors, who included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Fran Hauser, president of Digital for Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group. With this latest round, the company is launching Levo 2.0, an expanded and more personalized approach to career networking and coaching (personal profiles for young women and tailored mentor-matches). It plans to expand beyond the 22 cities in which it currently operates and will move its headquarters from New York to San Francisco.
“Our investors believe in it because it’s something they wish they had, and they believe in it as a business models,” said Levo co-founder and CEO Caroline Ghosn. “And I want every single millennial woman to feel like Levo has improved their lives.”
Over tea at Samovar Tea Lounge in downtown San Francisco, Ghosn said she’d just been setting up her new apartment and making final decisions on the office. She’d turned 27 a few days earlier and hadn’t had time for a birthday party. She wore a pink Jawbone Up band, spiked Louboutin flats and carried temporary tattoos in her purse. At Davos, she’d given a talk on youth unemployment.
“There’s a real need to recruit, retain and engage millennials. And there’s a huge gap in the labor market around our generation, specifically women. So what’s going on with these women?”
Part of it, she thinks, is about making millennial women aware of opportunities: After the learn-to-code intensive program Dev Bootcamp was struggling to achieve anything close to gender equity in their coding classes, they offered scholarship seats for women. When Ghosn posted it to Levo League, the spots filled within hours.
“If STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] is going to be a large source of job creation in this country, and there’s a dearth of young women in STEM, then look at the leadership snapshot in 20 years,” she said. “It’s not better.”
The young League members seem engaged. When Warren Buffet sat down for a video chat with Levo members, 7.6 million people watched. Fran Hauser, who was one of Levo League’s earliest investors, has more followers on Levo than any other social media platform.
Mentors like Hauser receive emails when they have new questions from League members, and they can answer either publicly or privately.
“These women are really craving guidance and insight and role models within the industry they’re in. It’s so hard sometimes to find a seasoned mentor,” she said. “And on a tactical level, I can answer these questions when it’s convenient for me. I can answer them on my phone. And they’re public, so other young women can go through and read what I’ve written before.”
Levo’s west coast home base will likely be a little cottage in Pacific Heights, which Ghosn thinks will suit the team (currently 12 but expanding quickly).
“Maybe we’ll put a flag out front like a clubhouse.”