Tech: WeWork just led a $32 million funding round for a female-run startup that’s basically a social club for women

The Wing co-founders Lauren Kassan (left) and Audrey Gelman, at the company's location in New York's SoHo neighborhood.
Just months after raising a few billion dollars for itself, WeWork is passing along some of its good fortune. In its largest investment to date, the coworking space provider led a
$32 billion funding round for The Wing, a New York startup that runs
women-only community spaces. The round, which was announced Tuesday, is
one of the largest series B fundraising efforts ever by female founders,
according to Audrey Gelman, The Wing’s cofounder and CEO.

“Not to mention that my partner was eight months pregnant while we
did that,” Gelman said, referring to Lauren Kassan, The Wing’s chief
operating officer and other cofounder.

The Wing hosts regular "happenings" in its centrally-located and stylish community spaces.

The Wing hosts regular “happenings” in its centrally-located and stylish community spaces.
(The Wing)

Gelman and Kassan launched The Wing in 2015 as a coworking and
community outlet that emphasizes empowering social programming and
providing networking opportunities. At its chicly decorated spaces, the
company hosts “happenings,” with themes ranging from paper doll making
parties to in-person interviews with senators.

The Wing offers spaces to work and a few private offices, and it
charges a $215 monthly membership fee. That’s comparable to what WeWork
customers pay for that company’s “hot desk” offering, which allows them
to work at table in an open space in one of WeWork’s offices.

But Gelman doesn’t see WeWork as her competition. Unlike WeWork
customers, most of The Wing’s members are there for its social
offerings, she said.

The Wing currently has two spaces in Manhattan and plans to open
locations in Brooklyn and Washington, DC next quarter. It plans to use
the money it raised in its latest funding round to expand to San
Francisco, Los Angeles, and, eventually, internationally.

“We’ve gotten a lot of outreach from women in London and Paris. We
got a request this week from a woman in Latvia,” Gelman said. “So that’s
the core thing — just expanding our physical footprint.”

The Wing first met with WeWork through Julie Rice, the co-founder of SoulCycle

Jen Berrent, WeWork’s chief operating officer, will be joining The
Wing’s board. Gelman said she’s eager to take advantage of that
connection to tap into WeWork’s expertise in “construction, real estate,
development and infrastructure.”

But Berrent isn’t The Wing’s only personal connection to WeWork.

Gelman and Kassan connected with people at the company through their advisor, Julie Rice, who cofounded SoulCycle. Rice announced Monday that she’s joining WeWork as chief brand officer.

Berrent wrote in a blog post she thinks WeWork and The Wing have similar outlooks and missions.

“From the moment we entered the first Wing location, we knew there
was something special,” Berrent wrote. “The last time I felt like that
was when I first visited WeWork Soho, our first location, as the first
WeWork Labs was under construction.”


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