APRIL 12 2023
Published in The Australian
Australian venture capital outfit Alberts Impact Ventures has joined high-profile investors Leigh Jasper, Carol Schwartz and Rob Phillpot in backing Melbourne-based caregiver software start-up Circle In, amid a dire funding situation for female-funded businesses.
Circle In has built an employee benefit platform for working families, offering tools and resources for situations like planning for a baby, to menopause and losing a family member. Having racked up clients including Medibank, Coca-Cola Amatil and EY, the start-up has now closed a fund raise to expand its platform globally.
Co-founder Jodi Geddes said her company had more than 20 employees, having lured ex-Google executive Liz Fox as its general manager, as well as former REA head of product Aimee Gleeson and former Coachhub VP Rob Cassidy.
“Circle In was born out of our frustrations of becoming working parents and the lack of support provided by our employers,” Ms Geddes told The Australian.
“We also saw a huge gap in the market where progressive businesses were looking to better support the career and family aspirations of their working parents. We launched in 2019 and, since then, have secured over $6m in funding from some of Australia’s most well-known private investors and VCs.”
Ms Geddes said five years into its journey, 80 per cent of Circle In users claim it has made them feel more positive towards their organisation, while 72 per cent would be more inclined to recommend their company as a result of the support shown towards working parents.
The firm has received $2m in combined funding from Alberts Impact Ventures and current investors Leigh Jasper, Carol Schwartz, Rob Phillpot, Andrew Sypkes and Ben Thompson, along with Victoria’s state-run start-up agency LaunchVic through its Alice Anderson Fund.
Recently published data from Deloitte, commissioned by SBE Australia, showed the share of funding received by solely women-founded businesses fell from 3.8 per cent between 2017 and 2021 to just 0.7 per cent in the 2022 financial year.
“This is a global problem, and interestingly, the proportion of funds going to fully female-led businesses also declined during the pandemic and post-pandemic,” Ms Geddes said.
“There is no doubt raising as a female is more challenging, especially as your business progresses to Series A and beyond. We are seeing more co-founding mixed teams, but as a fully female-led business, you are still faced with systemic challenges.
“We are confident that change is happening, especially with female-led programs delivered by LaunchVic and SBE, that are helping more women break through these barriers.”
She said she could not disclose Circle In’s current valuation, but that the tech downturn meant its latest capital raise took double the amount of time and double the effort of its previous raise.
“We love Circle In’s focus on creating workplaces who care – they’ve clearly demonstrated the economic value to businesses for valuing their caregiver workforce – higher staff retention, more engaged workforces and increased psychological safety,” Alberts Impact Ventures investment manager Lisa Fedorenko said.
“We’ve been thoroughly impressed with Kate and Jodi’s drive and integrity and are excited to support the better working world they’re creating.”