As many people are increasingly turning their side hustles into solopreneur ventures, ZenBusiness CEO Ross Buhrdorf said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in worker priorities.
The wave of entrepreneurial spirit has led to an investment for ZenBusiness. On Thursday, the Austin-based company announced it raised $55 million in Series B funding, which it plans to invest in launching two major new products.
“What we are seeing is a trend of more and more people venturing out to hang up their shingles and follow their dream,” Buhrdorf wrote in an email to Built In. “We fully expect this trend to continue.”
Founded in 2017, ZenBusiness’ platform helps early entrepreneurs create an LLC or corporation for free. It also monitors the startups to ensure they remain compliant in legal matters throughout the year. The company is a public-benefit corporation, which means it is dually concerned with driving profits and making a positive social impact.
Buhrdorf — who also founded the Austin-based home-sharing platform HomeAway, which Expedia purchased in 2015 for $3.9 billion — said the pandemic has driven an increase in individuals paying an annual fee to use ZenBusiness’ tools. This year, the number of customers on the platform has grown 100 percent compared to 2019, he said, with more than 85,000 micro-businesses launching on ZenBusiness.
“We have seen an explosion over the past eight months in the amount of people who want to be their own boss,” Buhrdorf told Built In. “Our customers are mainly service-based — consultants, plumbers, etc., and as demand for these services has grown, so has the entrepreneurial spirit.”
The company plans to spend the Series B round on refining its existing business services like company formation, banking, website development, marketing tools and more. ZenBusiness also plans to roll out ZenBusiness Money, a new fintech platform that will allow users to send and receive invoices. The feature will be built out of the Austin-based Joust, a startup that ZenBusiness paid an undisclosed sum to acquire in July.
ZenBusiness also aims to launch ZenBusinessU, a free educational resource center that will outline best practices around website development, audience engagement, business management and more. Both ZenBusiness Money and ZenBusinessU should launch in early 2021.
“2021 will be a big year for ZenBusiness,” Buhrdorf said. “With the launches of ZenBusiness Money, ZenBusinessU, and the potential to grow our customer base even more, we see more opportunities on the horizon.”
The 150-person company currently plans to hire more than 100 people over the next year, and will be hiring across its engineering, development, design and other teams.
The Series B round brings total investment in ZenBusiness to $74.5 million. Cathay Innovation led the round, with participation from GreatPoint Ventures, Breyer Capital, Omega Venture Partners, Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Interlock Partners, ATX Venture Partners and mark vc.