Bolster, the marketplace for on-demand executive talent, announced its Series B financing of $11 million to harness the forces driving the future of work for executives and venture-backed startups.
Bolster helps startup CEOs scale themselves, their leadership teams, and their boards. The Bolster marketplace matches startups with executives for interim, fractional, or advisory roles, board appointments, and full-time jobs. Bolster also offers robust mentorship and advisory services. Since its launch in September 2020, almost 7,000 curated senior executives have joined Bolster as Members, and over 1,000 founders and CEOs have joined Bolster as Clients, a testament to the growing workforce trend of on-demand, flexible work opportunities that exploded with the pandemic and the mainstreaming of remote work in 2020 and 2021.
Led by Foundry, Bolster’s latest round also includes participation from all existing investors; SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, High Alpha, Union Square Ventures, and Costanoa Venture Capital, as well as new investors Capital Factory and Alumni Ventures.
“Foundry runs as a network and loves investing in networks. In its short time, Bolster has already created an enormous amount of value around executive and board hires, especially on the dimension of inclusion and diversity,” said Brad Feld, partner at Foundry, which led the Bolster financing. “We are delighted to support Bolster’s growth and excited for what’s in store as Bolster continues to address the new way of building leadership teams and boards.”
Matt Blumberg, Bolster’s co-founder and CEO, said, “We appreciate Foundry’s leadership of this financing and the overall support and enthusiasm from all our investors who are working with us to make Bolster an industry standard. Bolster has gotten great traction from founders, executives, and VCs in our first full year of operations, and this financing will enable us to expand the scale of our marketplace and our client reach significantly.”
Bolster taps directly into the growing desire among CEOs and their investors to incorporate a more agile and modular approach to talent management at the leadership level in their businesses. Bolster’s model helps CEOs shortcut the nationwide talent shortage by gaining access to high-quality executive-level talent and mentors immediately when needed, and in a more cost-effective way than traditional executive search. Venture capital firms and other investors are using Bolster to manage their ever-changing networks of executive talent and help their portfolio CEOs place executive and board positions more efficiently. Foundry, the lead investor in Bolster’s financing, placed over 30 executives from Bolster’s marketplace at Foundry portfolio companies in 2021, filling roles twice as fast as traditional search firms at a fraction of the cost.
Much of Bolster’s rapid member marketplace growth can be attributed to intentional partnerships with a diverse range of professional organizations leveraging Bolster to provide their networks with access to exclusive career-enhancing opportunities. Some of Bolster’s more than 70 partners include 50/50 Women on Boards, Ascend Leadership, Director Diversity Initiative at UNC, Him for Her, How Women Lead, Latino Corporate Directors Association, Prospanica, and Santa Clara University’s Black Corporate Board Readiness Program. Bolster is focused on being the go-to talent resource for startup CEOs, while also supporting the diversification of exec teams and boards in the startup ecosystem.
In conjunction with the financing, Bolster also announced the appointment of two new independent board members — Andrea Rice and Rory Verrett. Andrea is currently managing director of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), helping drive the organization’s Black Equity at Work Certification program, having spent the bulk of her career as founder and president of CareerCore, a platform for enterprise professional development and coaching. She serves on the boards of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) and is an internationally ranked competitive tennis player. Rory is currently CEO of Protege Search, a retained executive search and leadership advisory firm focused on diverse talent, which he founded in 2016 after a career in executive search that included Russell Reynolds Associates, Spencer Stuart, and head of talent management and public affairs for the National Football League.
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The two new directors join Cristina Miller as Bolster’s independent directors. Cristina is the COO of Goldbelly and a long-time online marketplace executive with companies including 1stDibs and Gilt Groupe. The rest of Bolster’s board includes CEO and founder Matt Blumberg, and founding investors Scott Dorsey from High Alpha and Melody Dippold from SVB. Venture investors Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, Brad Feld from Foundry, and Greg Sands from Costanoa Ventures serve as board observers.
“Bolster spends a lot of time evangelizing the value of independent directors and the importance of adding first-time directors in order to increase both the effectiveness and the diversity of private company boards,” said Blumberg. “Bolster has benefited tremendously from Cristina’s presence on its board this past year and looks forward to similar levels of strategic advice and assistance from Andrea and Rory. We are thrilled that they are all on our board, and that our long-time venture investors have stepped into board observer roles to allow us to form such a strong and independent board from day one.”
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