Startups

Cleo raises $27.5M Series B to better support working parents

Big name executives including former GE CEO Jeff Immelt, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh also made personal investments in the company as part of the Series B round led by NEA.

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Millennials currently represent the largest labor market share of any single generation and a widening swath of the cohort are starting families and dealing with the pressures and challenges of being working parents.

Due in part to the competition in attracting and retaining this growing talent pool – as well as changing employee expectations – the universe of benefits available to workers has expanded past traditional offerings like healthcare plans.

Enter Cleo, a startup that was formed to ease the transition of new parents back into the workforce, which has recently raised a $27.5 million Series B funding round led by NEA to support the growth of its parental support platform.

The San Francisco, California-based company contracts with a network specialists in fields like lactation, career coaching, couples therapy and sleep training to help guide both expecting parents and new parents through the issues and questions that arise in daily life. Cleo was founded in 2016 under the name Lucy and has raised more than $40 million in total.

Big name executives including former GE CEO Jeff Immelt, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh also made personal investments in the company as part of the Series B round.

Cleo CEO Shannon Spanhake said the company – which sells its platform to employers – sees itself as filling the gap between existing health systems, the home and the eventual move back into the workforce. The company says parents using Cleo are more likely to return to work and also reduces the costs associated with pregnancy-related health issues.

With the capital raise, Cleo is expanding its abilities to assist individuals in fertility and family planning, as well as with the issues around raising a toddler as a working parent.

Alongside their existing resources, Cleo will now be able to provide to guidance in areas like IVF treatments, surrogacy, adoption, potty training and childcare. The new funding will also boost the Cleo’s international expansion as it looks to build more robust Cleo Guide networks and ramp up its business with global companies including Reddit, eBay and Uber.

By rolling in services intended to help parents from the pre-conception stage to the time their child is five years old, Spanhake said the idea is to send the message to workers that their employer is invested in the individual and their families for the long haul.

“I believe we’re the most comprehensive solution on the market, there aren’t a lot of solutions to help parents in the existing healthcare world,” Spanhake said.

“To date there’s been a lot of companies providing egg freezing benefits and the message that that sends is that the employer wants the person to wait to have a family.”

A few examples that highlight the resources provided by Cleo include a father who was given counseling and support as his baby was treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, a mother who was able to successfully adjust her child to new sleep patterns after a trip overseas and two fathers who were able to successfully adopt twins to the family.

The ultimate goal, according to Spanhake, is to change the conversation and culture so that the benefits provided by Cleo are not just the realm of progressive or forward thinking employers but “100 percent mainstream.”

Photo: shironosov, Getty Images