A new digital marketplace called West Tenth, now backed by $1.5 million in seed funding, wants to give women a platform to start and grow their home-based businesses. Through its mobile app, women can promote their business to others in the local community, field inquiries and requests through the app’s integrated messaging platform, and finalize transactions through in-app payments.
The startup was co-founded by Lyn Johnson and Sara Sparhawk, who met when they worked in finance. Johnson remained in finance, but Sparhawk later moved on to work at Amazon.
Johnson explains that her experience led her to better understand the economic inequality of women in the U.S., where they only own 32 cents to every dollar in financial assets than men own. A significant driver of this is that women leave the workforce, often to raise children, which results in years where they don’t have earnings.
“We’re excellent as a society at supporting women on the way out of the workforce to care for their kids but really terrible at supporting them on the way back in,” Johnson says. “Women know this, and as an alternative to employment that just seems to fail them, they’re starting businesses in droves.”
With West Tenth, the goal is to encourage this sort of entrepreneurship — and more broadly, to help women understand that the many of the talents they’ve developed at home are, in fact, potential businesses.
This includes opportunities like home-based bakers and cooks, photographers, home organizers or designers, home florists, baby sleep consultants, party planning and event services, crafting classes, fitness training, homemade goods, and more.
The company notes that the app isn’t necessarily closed to men, but the current market for U.S. home businesses favors women as they’re more often the partner who chooses to leave work to raise children. However, there are some men on its platform.
, Today, many of these entrepreneurs market their home businesses on Facebook. They’re missing opportunities to reach customers if they’re not heavily involved in local groups and responding to requests for recommendations. West Tenth instead centralizes local businesses in one place to make discovery easier.