Despite the increase in women in the U.S. workforce and public pledges from several high-profile CEOs to close the gender pay gap, women, especially working mothers, often find themselves without the resources necessary to succeed at work.
Maven, a digital health startup and benefits platform focused on improving access to healthcare for women, has emerged specifically to help businesses help their female employees.
Maven has garnered the support of Sequoia Capital, a household name in Silicon Valley and a venture capital firm that has seldom backed female-focused businesses. Today, the company is announcing a $27 million Series B co-led by Sequoia and Oak HC/FT. Existing investors Spring Mountain Group, 14W and Female Founders Fund have also participated in the round.
As part of the deal, Sequoia’s Jess Lee and Oak’s Nancy Brown will join Maven’s all-female board of directors.
The company was founded by Kate Ryder, a journalist-turned-venture capitalist-turned-founder. Before joining Index Ventures as an early-stage investor in 2012, Ryder was a reporter at The New Yorker and The Economist.
During her time as a VC, digital health and telemedicine were the nascent sectors to watch. Professionally, Ryder realized the huge market opportunity, meanwhile, personally, she was reminded of the major lack of resources for women at work.
“A lot of my friends started having kids while I was working in venture capital, so I started hearing about the difficulties of having kids or postpartum depression,” Ryder told TechCrunch. “It’s not like you as a woman get educated on what all this is while you’re in school.”
In 2014, Ryder left her VC job to create Maven . Her goal: become a one-stop shop for working women starting families. Since launching the company, Ryder herself has become a mother of two.
“You go through this enormous life experience; it’s hugely transformative to have a child,” she said. “You do it when your careers is moving up — they call it the rush hour of life — and with no one supporting you on the other end, it’s easy to say ‘screw it, I’m going home to my family’ … If someone leaves the workforce, that’s fine, it’s their choice but they shouldn’t feel forced to because they don’t have support.”
Maven partners with companies, including Snap and Bumble, to provide employees access to its women’s and family health provider network. The platform connects users to OB-GYNs, pediatricians, therapists, career coaches and other services including resources for families interested in adoption, IVF or maternity care.
Users can also video chat or direct message healthcare practitioners using the Maven app.
Along with the Series B financing, Maven is announcing the launch of a breastmilk service, Maven Milk, which it says is its next step toward closing the resource and care gap for working mothers.