Craft House clients, WeWork & The Wing, collaborate, Forbes
By Clare O'Connor, Forbes
All-women social and co-working club The Wing has raised a $32 million Series B round of funding as it quickly grows into a network of outposts in multiple cities.
This marks one of the biggest Series B rounds raised by women founders in recent memory, and takes total investment in The Wing to over $42 million. In April, the startup raised an $8 million Series A round.
The timing of this round means that cofounders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, both 30, were pitching venture capitalists while the latter was heavily pregnant.
Almost as unusual: the lead investor in The Wing's Series B is an ostensible competitor, the $20 billion office-sharing company WeWork.
It comes at a time of fast growth for the women's club, which opened its doors in Manhattan's Flatiron in October 2016, and has since added a second New York location in Soho to its offering. In January, a third Wing will open in Brooklyn's DUMBO, followed by a Washington, D.C. outpost in early 2018.
To date, The Wing counts some 1,500 members paying between $2,100 and $3,000 a year, with a waiting list of many thousands more. It has established a popular online presence, with over 150,000 Instagram followers as of late November.
Its photogenic quarters help: both New York spaces are pastel-hued and include such touches as beauty rooms stocked with products from brand partner Chanel; feminist libraries of books by and about women, arranged by color; and cafes stocked with crostini and frosé.
WeWork's investment won't result in any co-branding or shared spaces, but will mean The Wing has access to a vast real estate pipeline as it looks at opening west coast outposts in San Francisco and Los Angeles before heading overseas.
"It frees us up a little to focus on community and brand," said Gelman, CEO of The Wing and a former political publicist. In the past month, the startup has launched a digital members' portal and a magazine, No Man's Land. Its fall 2017 edition features interviews with members including rapper Remy Ma, 'Transparent' actress Hari Nef and Rookie publisher Tavi Gevinson.
The beauty room at The Wing's first club, in New York's Flatiron, includes products from brand partner Chanel.
WeWork's overtures to the women's club began this past summer, after newly-promoted COO Jen Berrent toured its Flatiron space with SoulCycle cofounder Julie Rice, an investor in both The Wing's seed round and Series Aalongside spin chain cofounder Elizabeth Cutler. (Rice officially joined the WeWork team this week as chief brand officer.)
"We really are a mission-based company," said Berrent. "We believe we are doing things that humanize the way people live and work. At the foundation, this was a mission alignment. The more The Wing exists, the better it is for what we are trying to achieve."
WeWork's multimillion-dollar investment in The Wing comes on the heels of its acquisition of the Lord & Taylor building on New York's Fifth Avenue in a deal worth $850 million. The co-working giant is also launching a private elementary school inside a Manhattan WeWork that will teach "conscious entrepreneurship."
As well as WeWork, participants in The Wing's Series B include early-stage venture capital firm NEA, which led the women's club's Series A.
Disclosure: This reporter is a paying Wing member. She writes about women entrepreneurs; it seemed to make sense.