With $10 million in new funding, is The Muse poised to become the go-to job site for the Millennials?
In 2011, when Kathyrn Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos, and Melissa McCreery founded The Daily Muse, which was at the time geared towards professional women, the goal was to create a website that did more than just find jobs, like Monster.com. Eventually the site evolved to become the career advice and search marketplace The Muse.
"What we were doing on some levels was very audacious. We wanted to go up against LinkedIn and Indeed and some other legacy players in the career space," explained Minshew. "The fact that we wanted to focus on millennials, and a very digital-native audience was not necessarily perceived as a great idea early on."
According to The Muse co-founder and CEO Minshew, once the company saw started to see traction, there was a change in how people viewed the company. Shifting to put a focus on the soon-to-be employable millennial generation as a whole, and by putting a premium on design, content, and more digital age-minded company profiles, the company has grown to the point where it has 100,000 to 300,000 active users on the site each day — with an average age of 29, compared to an average user age of 47 for LinkedIn users — looking for jobs from companies such as Adidas, Uber, and Facebook.
Today, the New York City-based company announced that it has raised a $10 million Series A to help it continue to expand operations across the country and help more young job hunters find the careers that they want.
The new funding round was led by Theresia Gouw and Jennifer Fonstad of Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners, and QED Investors and also included many of its original seed backers.
In order to differentiate itself even further from sites like LinkedIn — which it already does with a variety of multimedia tools to help the companies that pay to post jobs on its site — The Muse plans to make the entire career hunting experience more personalized.
"We collect a lot of data that can help us show people the types of resources, content, and opportunities that they are looking for, and we want to build that more into the core of the product," Minshew said, adding that moving forward, the company wants to figure out where someone is in their career and target its content and job finding services towards them specifically, which seems like a bit of a shot at the job search establishment. "The product that I envision us being is the difference between discovery and search. When you think about the classic Muse user, who is between 22 and 29 years old, they don't necessarily know what title they want to have or exactly what they are looking for. As The Muse continues to develop a more personalized experience, the goal is to be a suggestion engine for careers that appeal to the young workforce.
According to Minshew, The Muse is also going to use some of the new funding to expand its operations geographically.
"The Muse user base is national. We spread across every major urban city in the U.S., as well as most large English-speaking cities abroad, like London and Sydney," Minshew said. However, most of the jobs that the company has on its site are concentrated in about eight cities.
The influx in capital is going to be specifically used to expand The Muse's operations in Austin, Houston, and Atlanta, as well as a host of other cities by the end of 2015. However, the company is still going to be running its business out of New York.
While running a startup out of New York City may seem glorious, the Muse is still a startup and requires some difficult decisions, like often paying more for new talent than you might pay yourself.
Minshew said that she and Alex Cavoulacos (co-founder Melissa McCreery is currently a cancer biology PhD student at UCSF) have some of the lowest salaries at the company. "While we were still at the seed stage, we felt that it was important that if we asked anyone to make a financial sacrifice by joining the team, that we make the biggest and that we lead by example."
The Muse is clearly targeting Millennials with its career discovery tools and will continue to do so with the new funding. But if it can create a more intuitive and less clunky version of LinkedIn, there might be quite a bit of value beyond the post-college set.