Alice, the first platform powered by AI that works as a personal business adviser to small business owners, today announced it closed a Series A funding led by SVB Financial Group, parent company to Silicon Valley Bank, the bank of the world's most innovative companies. Terms of the financing have not been disclosed.
Founded in 2017 by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, Alice uses AI to connect small business owners to resources from enterprise companies, governments and organizations, providing an online platform that acts as a free business adviser. As these businesses grow and engage within the Alice ecosystem, the platform's technology learns more about a business owner's needs and matches them with opportunities to scale based on their stage of growth, industry, and location - including resources like capital and business services, and connections to communities of like-minded business owners and mentors. Alice has a community of more than 100,000 companies in all fifty states and across the globe, is open to all founders, and has a highlighted focus on helping women, people of color, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities. With this round of funding, Alice will continue to build its predictive technology, using data analytics to guide each entrepreneur through every stage of their business.
Integral to the raise is a first-of-its-kind #MeToo morality clause. The clause reinforces the commitment of both Alice and SVB Financial Group to ensure Alice board members and voting stockholders are held accountable for choices that could affect Alice's workforce and community of business owners. The clause requires stockholders to use corporate governance mechanisms to vote for removal of any board member in the event of a "#MeToo event, racial discrimination, and/or sexual orientation discrimination incident.
"Alice offers a level playing field for the 543,000 owners launching per month in America, and with SVB we found an innovative partner that will help us get our resources into the hands of what we call the 'New Majority' of business owners, collectively -- women, people of color, our US Veterans, entrepreneurs with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community," said Elizabeth Gore, president and chairwoman of Alice. "As a company that sees the monetary value of inclusivity, we firmly believe that a #MeToo type clause should be included in every funding agreement for every business in the country. Sexual and race discrimination is just plain bad for business."
"We're proud to support Alice and its work to help all businesses launch and grow, especially those run by underrepresented individuals. Alice is building an incredible data set of SMBs in the country and we expect the company to grow alongside the small businesses in its portfolio," said John China, president of SVB Capital. "The Alice team is taking an important step with the introduction of a morality clause and I expect to see other companies follow their lead."