On Wednesday, an app called Cleo announced a $10.5 million Series A funding round led by Sarah Guo at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock Partners.
Cleo (formerly known as Lucy) is designed to help working parents with prenatal and postpartum care — guiding them from the point when they're deciding whether to have kids to the point when they're returning to work, all the way through the child's first birthday.
It's offered through employers, and so far has helped parents at companies including Slack, Reddit, Box, and Pinterest.
Cleo users can connect virtually with experts in areas such as birth preparation and sleep; they can also schedule at-home visits, according to Forbes. The cofounders are Shannon Spanhake and Chitra Akileswaran, who is a practicing OB/GYN.
LinkedIn's managing News editor, Caroline Fairchild, spoke with Guo, the partner at Greylock, about the move to back Cleo. According to the article posted on LinkedIn, Guo was pregnant with her first child when she heard about Cleo and was promoted to partner within weeks of returning from maternity leave. She wanted to make the transition back to work smoother for other parents.
Guo said that services like lactation consultants, doulas, and career coaches are typically limited to high earners. "The core mission of the company [Cleo] is to democratize access to these kinds of services because we don’t think that they should be a luxury. "
"It boggles my mind as a parent that the entire world has gone through this," Guo said of the parenting experience, "but all of this institutional knowledge is not transferred in a really accessible way. It is just like random information and blogs on the internet. There is some great content out there, but who can tell."
And while one might assume Cleo caters to new moms, Guo said that nearly 50% of the app's users are men. Forbes reported that Box began offering Cleo to its staff in March 2018. So far, 61 employees have enrolled, 40% of which are men.
Cleo is tapping into a growing trend among millennial parents: searching for parenting information online, as opposed to asking family and friends.
The LinkedIn article also highlighted the business case for Cleo: Upwards of 40% of women will leave the workforce within one year of their first child being born. And companies will spend about 25% of that employee's salary to hire someone new.
According to Cleo's website, 93% of mothers who use Cleo return to work.