How leap.club is on its way to becoming a go-to social professional network for women
You start researching about leap.club and you soon realise that everything about their journey is quite unusual. The company is building a first-of-its-kind network for women, memberships have been paid from day 1, and there’s a waitlist. And interestingly, it is one of the only startups in India with 90 percent women on the team. Wait, there is more. To onboard its 8500+ paying members, the team has spoken to 20000+ women and claims to have not spent any major money on user acquisition. The founders also tell us that over 50 percent of investors on their cap table are women. Definitely, a first for an early-stage startup in India. So in a day and age where startups are chasing hockey stick growth, why is leap.club taking a different path.
Founders tell us why choosing a different approach works
“We are a mission-led team and company. But we wanted to marry our mission with a profitable business. We hate it when people think of us as a social charity. We also realise that we are a unique business with no playbook. So, we have to build our own path. Today, we do many things that look like they won't scale fast but all these activities help us understand our users and their problems better. For example, talking to 20,000 women sounds crazy but it has helped us build a deep understanding of the unique challenges women face every day at the workplace or socially and build the right products for them to help solve those challenges,” say the founders.
It’s been nearly two years sincelaunched in May 2020. Founded by ex- execs Ragini Das and Anand Sinha, the startup aims to be the preferred professional network for women that influences three key aspects of their lives:
1. Community and connections
2. Learning & Development: Courses and workshops that are tailor-made specifically for women in the workplace, launched last month
3. Focus on diversity in the workplace via employer branding, and talent solutions: to be launched in Jan 2023
We spoke to a few members who have joined leap.club in the last 12 months and all echoed the same thoughts. They love the fact that they can be true versions of themselves on the platform. Through 1:1 connections, they have not only been able to increase their professional network but also make new friends. All members can choose to be a part of 6-10 micro-communities that help them learn more about a particular topic or just stay up to date with everything happening around them. Members also attend curated experiences (online and offline), and learn from industry leaders via learning modules designed exclusively for women.
“If I need to scope professionals for business partnerships, career moves, hiring or just to get to know more people, leap.club is now my go-to social network. The micro-communities help me stay up to date and engage in discussions on everything from Netflix to crypto to pets. I love how leap.club is about giving first and everyone is here to help each other,” says a user from Mumbai who has been a member on the platform for nine months now.
“To give you a sense of our scale now, we enabled 15000+ 1:1 connections in the month of July 2022, and have 200+ active micro-communities (internally called clubhouses) in which 50,000+ messages were exchanged in the last month alone. We also hosted over 20 events and experiences (virtually and offline) and our members hosted around 30 meetups by themselves,” says Ragini.
What’s the end goal for leap.club?
The founders say that it’s impossible to have ‘end goals’ when you are building something out of nothing. “The world around is evolving fast and what our users want also keeps changing so the goal post will always keep moving. But in a few years, we would love leap.club to be the #1 global platform for women, which helps them live their best social-professional life. In the coming years, we want to be a community of a million women, the go-to platform for learning and development and for career moves. We also want to be a top branding and hiring platform for employers around the world,” says Anand.
The startup does seem to be on its way to achieving great things. 8500+ paying members across 15 countries, 300+ cities, and 3000+ companies is an outstanding achievement, and now, they have already started building the learning platform - phase 2 of their journey as they claim.
Notable names like Indra Nooyi, Faye D’souza, Roshan Abbas, Mayanti Langer, Rashi Narang joined as founding creators and have seen a notable response from members – selling over 1000 paid slots in two weeks.
“We know there is no one-size-fits-all and leap.club is uniquely built to make women win because we understand what our members want, provide great peers to learn with, and have focused evolving courses. We want to break away from cookie-cutter ways of learning, and only enable needle-movers for our members - from building a stronger executive presence to shaping our personal brands, from learning how to fundraise to building sales engines that thrive,” adds Ragini on the launch of learn with leap.club.
Aggressive future plans
The team has set ambitious goals for the next two years – 100,000 members and Rs 100 crore of revenue. They are on their way to 25,000 members and upwards of Rs 10 crore annual revenue by March 2023; and after focusing their efforts on L&D and building a web app for increased usability, the startup will begin work on their talent solutions + employer branding product later this year.
The founders report that 50+ companies have reached out to them to hire from the leap.club platform over the last six months – conglomerates and SMEs alike. They foresee diversity hiring to only increase in the coming decade and want to make talent solutions as one of leap.club’s USPs for its members. The startup itself has found key talent through its community with a large part of its 60-member team starting out as community members.
leap.club has till date raised $1.2 million in investments from some of the top seed investors in India. They boast of investors like Enzia Ventures, Whiteboard Capital, Titan Capital, Sequoia Scout, FirstCheque and prominent angels like Kunal Shah, Sweta & Amrish Rau. But ask the founders who their favorite investors are and they quickly reply - their users. “Around 15 members participated in our last round, the fact that they trusted us with their hard-earned money matters a lot to us,” say the founders. The company is also on the final lap of closing another $1 million round.
“We have been dismissed as a non-starter business at every step. Women don’t invest in their growth, the market is too small, businesses like yours don’t scale, LinkedIn already exists - we have heard it all. We are on our own journey and will work hard to prove everyone wrong,” the founders affirm.