13 May Millennial-Friendly Career Site The Muse Raises $10 Million Series A (Forbes)
When Kathryn Minshew set out to raise seed money for her startup, she felt like Oliver Twist. Despite Y Combinator alumni credentials and some early buzz, Minshew and her cofounders faced dozens of rejections as they looked for money to get off the ground. Their company, then called The Daily Muse, promised a career destination for millennials. But content proved a hard sell.
Reminiscing of those long pitches still brings out an un-Twist-like harder side to Minshew now. “We were scrappy mo–,” the CEO starts to say. “Let’s put it this way: those early days were very, very lean. They were blood, sweat and ramen.”
Now as three million monthly viewers flock to The Muse, Minshew’s problems are the ones a founder wants to have–too much demand from investors and readers plus the time drain of interviewing for 25 new jobs the startup plans to add by the end of the year.
The Muse’s mix of job searches and content like behind-the-scenes videos that aim to give a sense of a hiring company’s culture are supposed to appeal to young professionals in a way that the connections and résumé heavy LinkedIn can’t. The bulk of that content comes through three on-staff editors and a group of 600 expert contributors in specific areas of focus, plus photos and videos of companies featured on the site like Facebook, HBO and Uber.
With three times more monthly readers now and plans to increase its focus cities from six to nine, The Muse isn’t having a hard time raising money anymore. The company announced Wednesday it’s raised $10 million in a Series A round from Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners and QED Investors.
While The Muse has grown its monthly readership over the last several years, its revenue doesn’t depend on eyeballs and advertising clicks but on subscriptions paid by featured companies listed on the site. That strategy to create evergreen content and an audience and then layer on subscription services reminded Aspect Ventures investor Gouw of two of her previous portfolio companies, Trulia and Learnvest.
“We believe the opportunity is to create a next-gen ‘career’ site much as Monster.com and Hotjobs.com disrupted newspaper job classifieds in the first iteration of the Internet,” says Gouw.
They join an influential group of angel investors who gradually joined during the hard-fought pitches of The Muse’s two seed rounds, including the former CEO of Monster.com Europe, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and Tyra Banks.
Nine out of ten The Muse readers are employed or in school, and four out of ten are actively thinking about switching jobs, Minshew says. The rest come for skills like public speaking, general advice, or just for fun. In addition to hiring 25 people for its new bigger office, primarily in product engineering and sales, The Muse is planning more personalization of the content to better suit each user. Deeper partnerships are also on the way.
For the rare startup that appeals to 65% female users and counts three women as cofounders–Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos and the since-departed Melissa McCreery–it’s perhaps less surprising than it would be at other startups that four of the five members of The Muse’s board are now women. At one point as they hammered at terms with Gouw, Minshew says there were six women and one “lone Y chromosome,” The Muse’s legal counsel, on the line.
While Minshew says The Muse didn’t deliberately seek out a female board and values diversity of all kinds, she’s also proud to be an outler when it comes to gender in tech today. “I hope people will see this as one of the many signals of a broader shift in women in tech to be more of a given and less of an oddity.”