As we speak, there are professional networks for women executives, mothers, owners of small and medium-sized businesses, and many more.
Medley, a new membership-based community that launches today, is looking to do things a little bit differently. Instead of bringing together a specific category of people, the goal of Medley is to connect users with people who aren't just like them.
Founded by mom and daughter duo Edith Cooper and Jordan Taylor, Medley is backed by a variety of angel investors, including Jen Rubio, Tim Armstrong, Damien Dwin, as well as Foundation Capital. The company declined to disclose the amount raised.
Cooper and Taylor told TechCrunch that one of the biggest challenges with the product is defining what it is. Unlike some other professional membership communities, Medley isn't solely focused on career growth, but rather incorporates personal growth into the framework.
"Medley is really about the connection between your career, your personal growth and your philosophy in life," said Edith Cooper. "What I experienced is that people no longer want there to be strict barriers between those aspects of their lives."
Folks who join Medley spend about 15 minutes on the application process, answering a wide range of questions that take a look at personal and professional information, but also at their general psychology and personality type.
From there, Medley matches users into a group of eight with the precise goal of ensuring that there is diversity among that small group. Some may be older, while others are younger. They may come from different racial backgrounds or different industries. Men and women alike will meet together in their groups.
An expert executive coach is also in on these monthly group meetings (which are currently being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic), and guides the group as they share about themselves and learn about their groupmates, all the while focusing on communication.
Prior to Medley, Cooper was a partner at Goldman Sachs for 20 years, and spent the last decade of her tenure as Global Head of Human Capital Management. Taylor was Chief of Staff at Mic, and was also a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School.
"There is one main theme for my investment thesis, which is the change to direct empowerment and direct ownership of relationships between people and everything else," said Tim Armstrong. "Just like you may have a direct relationship with your gym or personal trainer — which a lot of people do and it's an industry that's growing tremendously — most people have not taken direct ownership of their careers. They end up outsourcing to the companies they work for that don't have the resources to do development."
He added that Medley is a gym for your mind and your career.
Medley's target demographic is people in their late 20s, early 30s, who are starting to think more long-term about their choices both professionally and personally.
That said, part of what makes Medley special is that it's open to anyone who's curious to learn, grow and explore other people. As such, Medley is available on an opportunity-based sliding scale for the annual membership fee to ensure the community remains inclusive. Founding memberships are available now for $150/month or $1,500 annually.
Cooper explained that some of the biggest barriers for Medley are in the midst of being broken down.
"We don't have to explain anymore that different perspectives are valuable," said Cooper. "We don't have to explain anymore why it's so important to have intentional conversations and dialogue with people, or that we can do that virtually as well as in person. Some of the biggest things that we were focused on communicating about this business and this offering have been broken down as a result of the push and inertia of the other things that are going on in society."