Amy Nelson is in the midst of a career pivot. A former Wall Street lawyer, she and co-founder Kim Peltola are launching a business and going through their first round of fundraising. Nelson also happens to be pregnant.
“I heard, again and again, various themes from leading angel investors or more seasoned entrepreneurs on how we wouldn’t be able to raise it if I told people this fact or failed to hide my pregnancy,” she said.
She considered their advice, then decided to toss it out the window. Nelson and Peltola are launching The Riveter to challenge bias just like this. Their vision is a co-working space where women don’t feel excluded from the business world because of their gender.
“I thought about what we are building and why,” she said. “We want to change the game for women founders and freelancers and if I’m truly going to walk the walk, part of that is being honest about who I am and where I am in my life. So, I told our investors and potential investors. Although morning pitches have been a little bit hard because of morning sickness, I’ve found absolutely no resistance to funding a pregnant founder.”
The Riveter has raised $565,000 of a $600,000 seed round to open a flagship facility in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A soft launch is planned for mid-April and The Riveter will officially open its doors May 1. The space will have nine offices, room for 120 collaborative desks, a fitness studio, meditation room, retail space, and other amenities. Daily yoga classes, wellness seminars, and community events are key to Nelson and Peltola’s vision.
The duo met a few years ago when they were both new to Seattle and new to motherhood. They came from different backgrounds (Peltola was a social worker) but faced similar challenges related to juggling careers and parenting.
“Two topics kept coming up for both of us over the years: how do you do it all thousands of miles from family and what do you do when you want to ‘off-ramp’ from the full-time career but ‘on-ramp’ into something different?”
They started kicking around the idea of going into business together and checked out a few local coworking facilities.
“We kept running into spaces built by and for men — foosball, ping pong, and beer kegs,” Nelson said. “As professional women in our 30’s, we weren’t finding any community, and certainly couldn’t find the programming we wanted to help with business skills or a place where we could focus on wellness.”
These “bro-working” spaces, as Nelson describes them, inspired the co-founders to build a female-focused collaboration center where they would be happy working every day. Then they started thinking bigger.
This fall, The Riveter will open a second location in Bellevue, Wash. From there, the company will raise a second investment round of $3 to $4 million. The Riveter is planning to use those funds to open up an additional 19 locations along the West Coast by 2021.
Although the space is designed as a haven for female founders and freelancers, men are also welcome there. The Riveter has taken on male employees and encourages its members to bring diverse teams into the facility.
The Riveter will sell monthly memberships for $375 and up, $30 day passes, and hourly drop-in passes that cost $75 for 10 hours. The Riveter will also offer community memberships for women who don’t need office space but wish to attend events.
“Women want more community, more interaction, more events … and that’s what we’re doing,” said Nelson. “We’re creating amazing programming to bring our community together, feature women entrepreneurs, and help women get over the pain points in building their own businesses.”