Which skills are essential for students to develop and practice when they’re working to launch a venture? Get the perspectives of two student entrepreneurs who
Finding a workplace that works
Why Innovators Care
There are more than 70 million women in today’s workforce. Finding a job with an a female-friendly environment can be tough. InHerSight works to make the search for the right job for women easier.
InHerSight and CAN Investment
For the more than 70 million women in today’s workforce, finding the right job with the best work environment can be crucial but also overwhelming. Whether women are looking for career growth, family-friendly policies or just a change in employer, one startup company connected to UNC-Chapel Hill offers a technology platform that measures company support for women – helping them to apply for jobs at companies that best match their needs.
InHerSight fosters better workplaces for women by using data to help women find and improve companies where they can achieve their goals. One UNC-Chapel Hill investor program helping boost startups like InHerSight is the Carolina Angel Network (CAN), which connects accredited investors who are alumni or friends of the University to UNC-affiliated startups.
CAN is the only official angel investor network for startups and ventures associated with
UNC-Chapel Hill. And since being founded in November 2016 through January 2019, it’s attracted nearly 200 member investors and invested $5.2 million in 13 companies, including InHerSight.
We caught up with InHerSight founder Ursula Mead to talk about how her company is using data to build better workplaces for women.
When you first had the idea for this platform, did you ever think you would be where you are today?
From a business perspective, absolutely. We’re a mission-driven company, and one of the primary ways we measure our success is on the change we’re driving in how well companies in the U.S. support women. If you look at the stats around the support for working moms, women who want to advance, or even women seeking safe workplaces, there’s a lot of work to be done.
Our model for change requires scale, which is great because it aligns our mission objectives with our business objectives: to have millions of professional women using our insights to make decisions about where to work and where to apply, and to be helping tens of thousands of companies use those insights to be more competitive and successful at attracting and retaining women.
To achieve this, we knew we would have to grow aggressively and get the capital to do that. We’re working with tens of millions of data points about what women are experiencing and anticipate more than doubling our user base and ratings this year. With that kind of data scale and the goal to continue fast growth, we can truly impact the workplace for women by helping both women and the companies that value them improve.
Tell me about the local ecosystem and why you chose the Durham area?
As far as where we literally are (based in American Underground in Durham), that was a surprise. We started the company in the D.C. area, and after we raised our first round of funding, we started the search for the right ecosystem to build the business. We were looking for an area that was fairly close to D.C., had lower operating expenses so we could put more of our early capital into the business, and had great access to talent.
Durham met all those criteria, but what really sold us on relocating here was the area’s commitment to diversity in entrepreneurship. It felt right at the time from a mission perspective and still does today.
What sets InHerSight apart from other platforms? (Such as Glassdoor, Fairygodboss, Indeed, etc.)
Quite simply: our data. More than 85% of job seekers use company reviews to make decisions about where to work and where to apply. We measure more than anyone else in our space. Women rate their companies across 16 factors that are important to women—from equal opportunities to mentorship to flexibility to women in leadership and more.
We take all those insights and we use them to create company scorecards and match women to companies that have what they are looking for. That makes our findings more relevant, valuable, and actionable to professional women as well as the companies looking to compete for the female talent pool.
Today, with ratings for more than 100,000 companies in the U.S., we have the largest database of women-rated companies.
How did the Carolina Angel Network help you get to the next level as a company, and can you talk about any ways that being involved in CAN has helped beyond the funding itself?
CAN is filling a critical need in this area as an active early-stage angel network that is making significant (from a capital perspective) investments in Triangle-based companies. I’ve been lucky to have had some great advisors in the area who know the Triangle’s startup ecosystem very well. Two of them are active members of local angel groups, so they made the introduction.
Some of my most influential and helpful advisors at the moment are members of CAN. One of the great things about the network is that it brings together so many people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Often, there’s a member or a member with connections who can help us get the answers we need to push us forward.
What was the due diligence process like? How might you compare it to any other due diligence processes that you may have participated in? (I understand UNC MBA and law school students are involved in doing research?)
The diligence process was extensive and very thorough. CAN has a centralized diligence process that does include research from students, which is great, but the general membership ask a lot of their own questions as well. Given the diverse professional experience of such a large network, the questions spanned what felt like every aspect of the business.
What’s been the biggest challenge in getting InHerSight off the ground? And what did you do to overcome that challenge?
Fundraising has certainly been a challenge. The Triangle isn’t as familiar with our marketplace model or our strategy for developing it. We’ve been fortunate to have deep support from our former employer’s venture fund, Motley Fool Ventures, which has extensive experience with our business model and also with our founding team. I have no doubt that we can be a huge success in our space, as long as we can find believers who will fund our growth.
In today’s culture, how important is InHerSight to women in the workforce?
I can’t speak for all women, but I can tell you that every day, women reach out to us wanting to share their stories—they leave comments alongside company ratings, and they even offer to write blogs about experiences they had in the workplace. That tells us that we’re not just providing companies with data about how they’re doing; we’re providing women with a place to voice their concerns in the workplace, as well as their needs and wants. Given everything that’s happened since the start of the #MeToo movement, it’s pretty clear to us that women need our platform. It’s essential to making our offices safer and more inclusive places to work.
For more information about InHerSight, visit their website.
BMPolytech, Good Bowls, Perotech Corporation and Assure Technologies have received award funding for turning ideas and discoveries developed at UNC-Chapel Hill laboratories into transformative innovations.