Five to Nine is raising a $4.25 million seed round to help boost the effectiveness of DEI initiatives.

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five to ninewhich makes event management software, closed a $4.25 million seed round led by Black Ops Ventures.

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The company’s software, launched in 2018, allows businesses to schedule programs for their employee resource groups (ERGs) that allow employees with common characteristics or experiences to come together, share resources, and network.

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Five to Nine also provides attendance and feedback analytics for ERG events so that companies can measure the effectiveness of their ERG programs.

Co-founder and CEO of Five to Nine Jasmine shells told TechCrunch that she was inspired to launch the company after being hurt by ERG management. “We used everything from email to Survey Monkey to our chats to program events, hacking four to five tools together to get the job done,” Schells said.

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She, along with Denise Umubiyi, created Five to Nine to bring together the tools you need to run indoor events on one platform. The company already counts Yahoo, UpWork and Expedia as clients, and the product integrates with Okta, Workday and Slack.

Other investors in the round include Weak Fund as well as Cleveland AvenueWith Mike Gamson, Sterling Roadas well as Concrete Rose Capital as repeat investors.

With the new funding, Five to Nine plans to expand its engineering teams, create new products and increase the number of employees. He also hopes to double his clientele as Shells calls AirBnB a dream client.

“More than 90% of Fortune 100 companies have ERGs, but less than 10% of companies have any data on how their ERGs are performing,” Shells said. “What we do is very much in demand in the market.”

“It was the perfect time”

With more than 100 investors invited, Shells said it took about four months to complete the seed round. The promotion makes Shells and Umubiyei two of less than 250 black women who have been promoted more than 1 million dollars in venture capital.

Less than expected last year 0.5% records $330 billion venture capital went to black female founders—a fraction of about 1.3% of the total going to black entrepreneurs, crunchbase data. Break from five to nine came after James Norman phoned Shells one day and told her about his plan to start what would become Black Ops Venture Fund.

“More than 90% of Fortune 100 companies have ERGs, but less than 10% of companies have any data on how their ERGs work.” Jasmine Shells, co-founder and CEO of Five to Nine

Conversation with TechCrunch, Managing Partner of Black Ops Ventures Heather Hiles said Shells and Umubiyi, who impressed the team as incredibly wise, quick-witted and experienced. A bonus was the company’s desire to promote equal working conditions. One of the features of Five to Nine is its ability to provide insights into the success of relevant ERG initiatives.

The data also helps identify ERG leaders, who are often saddled with a diversity tax, also known as the pressure that minority workers experience in the workplace, to participate in diversity initiatives. These executives work tirelessly to manage ERG communities at no extra charge and with little recognition, and the data hopes to show companies the impact that ERG leaders have with their work, Shells said.

“All employers are trying to learn as the world of work changes and develops. They are trying to figure out what employees need to feel like they belong,” Hiles said. “[Shells and Umubyeyi] serve the need.”

Their family legacy continues

Growing up Shells watched her father quit his corporate job to start a company.

Shells says it was exhausting and recalls how the number of Christmas presents fluctuated each year. However, managing the business fascinated her, and she helped with bookkeeping and payroll. She would later study accounting and business at the University of Notre Dame, where she would meet Umubiyyi. Shortly thereafter, she left her corporate job to start at five to nine.

Born in Rwanda, Umubiyey traveled throughout Tanzania and Zambia as a child, watching her parents use entrepreneurship to support themselves and the communities they lived in.

After moving to the US in 2005, Umubiyei studied political science at the University of Notre Dame, believing it was the way to bring about positive change. She eventually realized that starting a business could have the same effect.

“I saw entrepreneurship as one way to not only create a legacy for myself and my family, but also as a way to help the community and connect other people with themselves,” said Umubiyyi.

She expects software like Five to Nine to be in high demand as DEI initiatives gain more support from companies. According to her, the goal of Five to Nine is to remain at the forefront.

“My dad said that even if you don’t go to business school, you can still do it,” said Umubiyi. “Jasmine and I have shown over the past year that this is possible.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of the original round and the duration it took to close it. It’s $4.25 million, not $4.5 million, and it didn’t take six months to close, it took several months.

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