Five to Nine started off helping Chicago’s up-and-coming professionals find new friends and fun activities. Now, the 1871-based startup wants to help companies move after-work socials beyond boring happy hours.
Five to Nine, a social networking event platform that offers memberships to young professionals, recently launched a web-based business-to-business platform for companies looking to host after-work social activities for their employees. The platform, Five to Nine co-founder and CEO Jasmine Shells said, will help emerging startups and established companies retain workers, millennial employees in particular.
“We want to make not only employees happy but also make these companies as successful as they can be,” Shells said.
To use the platform, companies must have a minimum of 15 employees using the service. Firms looking to offer this as an employee benefit have to pay on a tier-based system depending on how many employees have signed up for the platform, Shells said. For now, the startup is targeting boutique consulting firms and large consulting firms with 500 or more employees.
With Five to Nine’s B2B platform, employees can participate in social, volunteer, educational and other activities like courses with General Assembly Chicago or volunteering with Chicago Tech Academy. They can also chat with each other and share photos and other memories on the platform, Shells said.
A spokesperson for General Assembly said the details of their Chicago partnership were still being finalized, but they are “excited and hope to partner with Five to Nine.”
Companies using the platform can either have their own events or attend Five to Nine-organized events with other companies. Employers can establish private channels with their employees to talk generally or about their own internal company outings, Shells said.
After founding Five to Nine in 2015, Shells said she heard from her members that they wanted similar events for their after-work gatherings. Plus, while talking with emerging startups and established companies about a possible B2B service, she learned that startups needed employee engagement support for their HR department and larger firms wanted ways to connect employees across departments.
The platform aims to help workers, younger workers especially, form meaningful bonds with their co-workers, bonds which may help them further their careers. Shells, reflecting on her work as a consultant, said establishing workplace relationships was a key in determining who received clients and who’s careers ultimately advanced.
“When it comes to career advancement in general, those relationships are going to be crucial … It helps to have those relationships with people who could be or are decision makers in the company,” Shells said. “Millennials, in particular, are digital natives … We’re utilizing all the research and tools that we have to help people build those connections so they can advance those careers.”