The parenting benefits company Cleo announced today that it has raised a $27.5 million Series B round led by the global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. The Series B funding includes personal investments from executives including former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, Box CEO Aaron Levie and former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. Cleo raised a $10.5 million Series A round last year, according to Forbes.
Cleo partners with companies to offer benefits for working parents. The app pairs employees with a “Cleo Guide” — a certified practitioner available to answer questions and provide advice — and connects users with a global network of experts certified in topics like lactation, sleep training, prenatal nutrition and career coaching. The goal is to help employers attract and retain the best talent and to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace by supporting parents. Shannon Spanhake and Chitra Akileswaran cofounded Cleo, then called Lucy, in 2016. They saw a gap between the healthcare plans businesses offer employees and the advice and resources that working parents need, according to the statement.
Spanhake is currently the chief executive officer and Akileswaran no longer has a day-to-day role at Cleo, but has stayed on as an advisor. Today clients including Uber, eBay, Pinterest, Reddit and Slack use Cleo and the company reaches 475,000 families in more than 50 countries, the team says.
“Cleo helps us provide for our new parents in ways we couldn’t before. It’s not enough to simply offer parental leave; every child and family is different and has independent needs. By partnering with Cleo, our families feel cared for and supported through this exciting — and oftentimes challenging — phase of their lives,” says Katelin Holloway, vice president of people at Reddit, in a testimonial on Cleo’s site.
“Cleo Guides” help women and men from the family-planning stage to raising kids up to age five. Cleo has advice that would be beneficial for heterosexual couples, same-sex couples and single parents. It has resources on topics including egg freezing, LGBT family planning, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, adoption, prenatal and postnatal care, newborn and infant care, return-to-work coaching, behavioral issues, sibling dynamics and preschool selection. Employees can make video chat, messaging and in-home appointments, and Cleo is intended to complement existing medical support.
“Every family is vastly different, but there’s a universal trend that we’re seeing. When it comes to things like family planning, pregnancy or raising a child, almost all people have questions and need help finding answers. With this in mind, we built Cleo so that it works for every kind of family. Whether you’re a father, a same-sex couple, adopting or a single parent, Cleo is there for you,” says Spanhake.
Elana Lyn Gross is a freelance journalist and student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Find her at elanalyn.com.