When Hillary Bush decided to leave the comforts of a full-time job at MasterClass to be self-employed, she said she “was met with scams, snake oil and SEO.” Not a pleasant thought given that 60 million Americans called themselves freelancers in 2022 and that two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennials want to work for themselves, Bush told TechCrunch.
That’s why she created Pollen, a new professional membership for those who have, or want, independent careers. Members get exclusive access to business advice and a network of peers and mentors to help grow their business.
“If you’re a freelancer and you’re leaving the safety and security of your full-time job, or school or whatever, you’re on your own,” Bush said. “People are leaving around 30% of potential income on the table because they don’t have business training. You don’t have a mentor, manager, blueprint and you don’t give yourself a promotion. You’re truly an entrepreneur.”
In putting together Pollen last year, Bush wanted to offer “the business coach that you wish you had” with a connection to peers, mentors and collaborators. Features include dozens of playbooks and templates and access to weekly drops of job opportunities.
Pollen’s private network has two membership types: annual and monthly with the annual membership coming in at just over $1,000. Members also receive benefits, for example, over $100,000 worth of discounts on business and freelancer tools and coaching sessions. There are already over 15 active mentors.
Today, the company launches its platform with thousands of people on the waitlist and announces $4 million in funding from Animo VC, Founder Collective, XYZ, Precursor Ventures and a group of angel investors.
Bush intends to use the funding to power the next phase of Pollen, including growing the platform and its employee base. The company is hiring for its community and engineering team and for the content side of the business.
“Launching is a huge milestone for the business,” Bush said. “We really believe that anybody should have access to super-premium resources and to build their network. For anyone pursuing self employment, come to Pollen. There have been a lot of layoffs, and with that, massive reconsideration of the way work fits into people’s lives. People are really desperate for a support system whether they entered this lifestyle on their own accord or being laid off. We’re going to help you move your business forward throughout all phases — diversify your income streams, create new products and really power the future of work.”