-By Brad Svrluga, General Partner
Trust issues in the workplace are at an all-time high. It seems like the tech industry is plagued by scandal after scandal, and employee turnover is on the rise. Although conflict resolution, mentorship, and issues with management have always been tricky to navigate, in this charged environment employers realize there has never been a more important time to provide employees with resources to address these challenges. But when seeking help in resolving workplace issues, employees often have concerns about immediately divulging issues and concerns to their managers or HR departments without really thinking it through, for fear of compromising promotions or future discussions around compensation. This realization was the genesis for Bravely, a company we are thrilled to back. Bravely provides a network of independent professionals who offered individualized, and confidential coaching and guidance for everything from issues with coworkers to performance reviews. The impact of Bravely’s network and services reduces friction, improves productivity, and decreases turnover.
Bravely was co-founded by COO Sarah Sheehan and CEO Toby Hervey, who met at Gilt Groupe. Sarah is a rare breed who started her career in HR before transitioning to become a killer salesperson. The genesis of the company came a year ago, when Toby was counseling a friend who was having problems with her boss and didn’t know how to effectively address the issue. In fact, she was so close to the breaking point she’d threatened to quit. Toby immediately connected his friend with Sarah, who had always been a sought after informal counselor and crisis adviser in their days at Gilt. Sarah helped the friend work through her issues with her boss and strategize ways to improve their relationship.
Meanwhile, Toby had been working as part of the founding team of Pager, an on-demand urgent care platform. He saw parallels in what Sarah had done with Pager’s go to market model. What if he and Sarah could build a marketplace platform to bring scale to offering Sarah-style professional advice to address the myriad issues that crop up in quotidian life? Toby saw a massive opportunity in the market, because no comparable service existed.
In the United States $164 billion is spent annually on learning and development solutions in the workplace, and that number is growing rapidly. But there hasn’t previously been a coaching and development service that is truly independent and designed to be responsive to the changing demands of today’s complicated workforce. Bravely contracts with employers, who are then able to offer on-demand access to a network of expert conflict coaches and “people” professionals called “Pros” for off-the-record phone conversations about all kinds of workplace stress. Because these interactions are strictly off-the-record and disconnected from their employers’ formal HR apparatus, Bravely’s early beta customers report that employees are more candid, and can more easily take the first step toward resolving any issues. CEOs and HR leaders in turn are given ongoing reporting around the health of the organization, and credible insights that reduce employee churn and improve workplace potential.
Given Team Bravely’s exceptional operational experience, deep domain expertise, and the massive market opportunity in today’s changing work environment, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lead this deal. And alongside us, we’re looking forward to partnering with Correlation Ventures, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and Trail Mix Ventures on the Bravely journey. If you know of any CEOs or HR leaders who are interested in helping their teams meet the ever-evolving challenges of today’s workplace, please send them to www.workbravely.com!