If you are looking for a free area to work you may go to a coffee shop; if you need peace and quiet you may go to a library; and if you are a woman looking for a vibrant place to work alongside other women you go to Quilt. Quilt, the online platform connecting female freelancers and entrepreneurs to cowork together in their homes, revolutionizes how women in tech work, and breeds a support network that is safe. Inspired by one of the cofounder’s previous experience in the coworking industry, Quilt is looking to revolution the way that women work.
LA TechWatch chatted with cofounder Ashley Sumner about the Startup and discussed their most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised our pre-Seed round April 2017 which was $305K from angels with a follow up bridge round August 2017, taken mostly by Structure Capital (Jillian Manus/Mike Walsh) out of SF.
Our first round was comprised of Sarah Harden (otter media, hello sunshine), Leah Pearlman, Arch Meredith, Colin Wiel, Chuck O, Sean Trigony, Abigail Pucker, Katy Koob, Penny Linge, Mike Walsh and Mark Morrison.
Tell us about your product or service.
Quilt is an online platform that connects female freelancers and entrepreneurs to cowork together out of their homes and get paid for it.
What inspired you to start the company?
Quilt is the evolution of my cofounder Gianna Wurzl’s previous company with my background in the co-working and community space. One Roof, which was started in 2015, was reimagining workspace for women out of residential properties. I was early stage building community for NeueHouse and Wanderlust. Our desire was to restructure the current approach taken towards coworking and also build a more scalable and impactful model from women to have access to community and education no matter where they are in the world. Quilt decentralizes this existing model and empower women to build community for themselves.
In addition to decentralizing the model, we’ve removed membership from the equation. The number 1 reason someone goes freelance is for freedom and flexibility in their schedule. Women also have very different schedules from men as they gain more responsibility in all aspects of their lives. This way, they can decide when and where they want to work and what community they connect with the most.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Female freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers. Among freelancers alone there are 28 million in the US with an expected increase of 30% by 2020. Female entrepreneurs now make up 36% of business owners in the US alone. We’re often told we’re focusing on a niche market – but the truth is we make up 54% of the US population.
What’s your business model?
We are a service fee based model similar to Airbnb. A host lists her home, a guest books for $22 dollars. $18 goes to the host and $4 goes to Quilt. No more than 15 women in a home at a time. Each session is a half day (4 hours)
What are the advantages to working in a house compared to a coffee shop or library?
Inspiration, comfort, openness – it’s much easier to spark a conversation with another women in a home over in a coworking space or coffee shop. Safety – it’s hard to leave your belongings when you need to use the restroom. You have kitchen access and multiple areas to work or take a call from. You have more control over picking an environment that best suits your needs on that day.
What was the funding process like?
We are very fortunate to have our constellation of investors – who are all very supportive. Our litmus test as we solidified who would go on this journey with us was whether or not we enjoy having a very long sitdown dinner with them. That said, we easily took over a 100 coffees to get to the 11 investors we have today. Many investors, and yes men, didn’t see the need for what we’re building. Which is fair, they’re not women and don’t deal with the daily pitfalls of being a female entrepreneur.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We’re non-technical founders with a tech company. It takes time to build trust and find the right investors who believe in this mission. We certainly had some shocking responses from some we sat with – which we let fuel our desire to build this and not tear us down.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
It’s a profitable idea, it has a strong vision and mission behind it, us – we are a powerful, dynamic duo. You can get a sense for our passion and dedication by spending 5 minutes with us.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
PMF – focused on LA then up the coast through to Seattle.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Do your homework, don’t try to perfect something before getting it out there. Pick your core people you trust and listen to their feedback. Test and learn, test and learn. Don’t think you’re alone in this – there are people here to offer support if you let them!
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Hopefully we will know that answer in 6 months.
Where is the best place in LA to watch the sunset?
As you’re driving up the PCH to Malibu.