Chief co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan catapulted to unicorn status. (Credit: Chief)
Chief co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan catapulted to unicorn status. (Credit: Chief)

The founders of Chief practice what they preach.

Lindsay Kaplan and Carolyn Childers, whose startup revolves around empowering businesswomen through a private networking group, announced a $100 million Series B investment that puts their company’s valuation at $1.1 billion.

Chief, which launched in 2019, now joins the ranks of other female-founded unicorns, including Rent the Runway, 23andMe and Vimeo, to name just a few. Last year, according to Crunchbase, a record 83 startups founded or co-founded by women became unicorns, private companies that are valued at $1 billion or more.

According to Inc., this latest flood of capital marks the fastest growth of a female-founded, venture-backed U.S. tech startup from launch date to billion-dollar valuation in history.

Childers was modest about the company’s new unicorn status to the news outlet.

“We never set out to be a billion-dollar company,” she said, “but we’re excited about hitting this milestone because it shows that investment in women is a good investment.” 

The networking platform, which offers mentorship opportunities and career coaching, boasts more than 12,000 female business leaders and C-suite executives from companies including HBO, American Express, Nike, Google and NASA, and another 60,000 women are on a waitlist.

During the pandemic, the founders scaled their company with a host of digital offerings and meetups and expanded nationally — membership runs $5,800 for vice presidents and $7,900 for C-suite executives. 

“There was this moment in time when nobody had a playbook,” said Kaplan. “We’re all leaders trying to navigate our teams through a pandemic and social unrest and everything that was hitting us over the last few years, and it was a community that leaders really needed to turn to.”