Atlassian co-founder funds gender equity startup's US expansion
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Atlassian co-founder funds gender equity startup's US expansion

"I feel like I'm living my dream right now," said Gemma Lloyd after raising $1 million in an investment round led by Skip Capital, the private investment fund of Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson.

The new capital, announced on Tuesday, will be used to fund WORK180's expansion to the United States by November.

From left to right: Gemma Lloyd, Kim Jackson and Valeria Ignatieva announce WORK180's expansion to the US market.

From left to right: Gemma Lloyd, Kim Jackson and Valeria Ignatieva announce WORK180's expansion to the US market.

Photo: Supplied

Ms Lloyd started WORK180 after being dismissed as a "pretty young blonde" despite having 10 years' experience working in the tech industry.

The startup, which pre-screens employers to ensure they support women's careers, has attracted influential investors including Ms Jackson and Mr Farquhar, Joshua Borenstein, Mark Hoenig and Jeremy Same, co-founders of Lux Group, Thomas Rice, lead tech analyst at Perpetual and Australian startup accelerator Startmate.

WORK180 only lists jobs from businesses that are pre-screened against a set of 35 criteria, including pay equity, flexible working, women in leadership and paid parental leave.

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Ms Lloyd and co-chief executive, Valeria Ignatieva, self-funded the business when the pair started out in 2015 (the startup was originally called DCC jobs) and now employ 23 people and are on track to turn over more than $2 million this year.

Clients include Atlassian, Microsoft, Expedia, Commonwealth Bank, BHP, Qantas and Telstra.

Skip Capital

The latest investment by Skip Capital continues Ms Jackson's focus on female-led and founded businesses.

Ms Jackson said Skip Capital was "thrilled" to lead the Series A raise (a company's first significant round of venture capital financing) with the investors taking a minority stake in WORK180.

Husband and wife Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson

Husband and wife Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson

Photo: Supplied

"WORK180 is about gender equality and has created an important product for today’s job market that employees and employers love,” she said.

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Ms Lloyd told Fairfax Media she had always had ambitions to take the startup to the United States after spending time in San Francisco and New York.

"It just became apparent how needed the WORK180 solution is for the US and how big the opportunity is over there," she said. "The US in particular is very much behind on how they treat their employees ... they are definitely behind on parental leave so the impact in the US is much greater than what we can do in Australia. I think it is going to have a much greater effect and drive much bigger change."

Ms Lloyd said she had looked for investors who could provide more than just a cash injection and so the backing of Skip Capital had been crucial.

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"It is not just money, the advice is invaluable and they genuinely care about what we do," she said. "Kim [Jackson] is extremely valuable in terms of the connections she has been able to bring in the US, while the Lux team has a lot of experience in marketing and client acquisition through digital channels."

UK expansion

In March, the same group of investors provided $1 million for WORK180 to expand into the UK market, which Ms Lloyd says has been a successful move.

"The need in the UK is huge and there is a lot being driven by the government around gender equality, which is really supporting what our business is doing," she said.

Ms Lloyd is relocating to New York so she can work across the time zones in the United States and United Kingdom while Ms Ignatieva will focus on the Australian business.

“Many of the employers we work with are global so we can leverage our existing client base," Ms Lloyd said. "As our influence grows, we’re making real changes to the lives of not just women, but everyone who deserves better conditions. "

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