Gig Wage adds $3.5M to Series A- by Foundry Group

Founded in 2007, Foundry Group is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage technology startups and venture firms throughout the United States and Canada. As of October 2020, Foundry Group announced its new partner, Jaclyn Hester. Jaclyn is the first female partner at Foundry Group, joining them in 2016 after a few years at big law firms. Gig Wage was Jaclyn’s first investment to lead as a Partner.

GW: How did you meet Craig and discover Gig Wage?

JH: I met Craig initially through the Techstars & Western Union Accelerator, where I was a mentor. When I was going through Techstars and meeting all the teams, I thought that what he was building was super interesting because I really like the payment space. Still, it wasn’t clear that he would be raising a Series A soon, as most Techstars companies raise a seed round coming out of the program, which is early for us.

GW: How did you find the deal? Why did it stick out to you?

JH: I’m close with Ethan Austin, who was managing director of the Techstars & Western Union Accelerator and is now the Chief Strategy Officer at Gig Wage. Ethan sent me a note to let me know he was leaving to join Gig Wage and that there was a small allocation left in their Series A if we were interested. My initial thought was that the round dynamic did not make sense for us. But given my interest in the space and our relationship with Techstars (my partner Brad co-founded Techstars, and we’re investors in Techstars and Techstars Ventures, who was also investing in the round), I wanted to spend some time with Craig at least and see if it would make sense for us to engage. As I spent time with Craig and dug in more on the space and Gig Wage’s approach to the market opportunity, I got more excited and knew we had to find a way to make it work. A few of my partners met Craig, and we're equally excited about Craig’s vision, hustle-factor, and deep knowledge of the market.

GW: What excites you most about the deal?

JH: There are a couple of things — One, Craig is our kind of founder. Super smart, gritty, and resilient. Given the stage at which we invest, we’re really backing people. Sure, we have to love the idea, market opportunity, and business model, but there aren’t many metrics to go off at this stage — we’re not spreadsheet investors. With Craig, we immediately saw real founder-market fit and obsession with solving the problem at hand. He’s also been through ups and downs in the first few years of the company and exhibits the resilience necessary to make it through the challenges of the founder's journey.

The Techstars relationship was also a factor, as we’re a network-driven firm that works closely with our partner funds to source investments. Ethan’s move was a bonus. What better signal is there really than actually joining the team!

And then there’s the space. I’ve watched the gig economy's immense recent growth and have looked at a couple of things in the gig worker space but had yet to come across the right approach. Payments as the wedge to the gig worker population were immediately intriguing to me. There is a huge opportunity both socially and financially in serving this population but requires the right go-to-market strategy to acquire this consumer. Gig Wage also fits in our Glue theme, which includes numerous infrastructure and B2B companies.

And finally, while we’re not an impact fund, we think about whether an investment is net positive and can be impactful for many people. We see Gig Wage as a company that can provide financial empowerment and improved quality of life for the masses.

GW: Craig mentioned you are the first female partner at Foundry Group. Tell us more about that experience and what it means for Gig Wage to be the first deal you’re leading in your new role as a partner.

JH: Being the first/only anything can be challenging for obvious reasons. Gender certainly plays a role in shaping our life experiences and perspectives. The venture is a very human-driven industry, where our unique life experience helps shape a perspective that drives much of how we invest. While being the only woman can be challenging because none of my partners have experienced “being a woman,” I view it as a huge opportunity to help our team bring a female perspective into the mix. I believe my team sees this opportunity as well. That said, I don’t think my gender is the only thing that shapes my unique perspective and enables me to contribute — things like my age (I’m a bit younger than my partners, they love when I point that out), my experience with my husband’s startup journey, my legal practice experience, where I grew up, travel, school, parenting, etc., all play a role in shaping my perspective. And while all-male, my partners each have their own unique experiences beyond gender that they bring to the table.

I’m excited that diversity is core to Gig Wage’s culture and values as we build the company. We all know that diverse teams perform better, but it’s key that companies focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion from day one.

GW: Any advice for women professionals?

JH: My advice to women professionals is to focus on your unique experience as your identity, not just your gender. At the same time, don’t shy away from exploring and leveraging the opportunities that come with your female experience. We’re still a huge minority in the venture — that means you’ll sometimes see or understand things in a way that the majority of VC investors (i.e., men) don’t, or take a different approach, or have a different network or way of building relationships. And help lift other women.

Written by

Andrea Park