Home / Tech / This 34-year-old CEO's own experience with workplace harassment led her to raise $4.2 million to find a better way to help victims band together and speed up investigations

This 34-year-old CEO's own experience with workplace harassment led her to raise $4.2 million to find a better way to help victims band together and speed up investigations

Neta Meidav

  • Neta Meidav founded Vault Platform in 2017 during the height of #MeToo.
  • Vault Platform allows employees to collect evidence, such as texts, photos, or emails, via an app that stores the information on an employee’s device and shares it with HR as appropriate. 
  • It also allows employees to choose whether to file a report on their own, or as part of a larger group about a single issue or specific employee.
  • The company raised a $4.2 million Seed round in April led by Kindred Capital and Angular Ventures, along with participation from Jane VC and System.One.
  • Advisor Frances Frei, the executive tasked with overhauling Uber’s culture in 2017, told Business Insider that a system like Vault Platform could have helped identify the misconduct outlined in engineer Susan Fowler’s blog post.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fresh out of college, Neta Meidav says she turned down her dream job after being sexually harassed by the hiring manager. 

At the time, Meidav says, she didn’t trust the system to treat her fairly, and didn’t report the incident. Instead, she says, she left Israel for London. Months later, Meidav found out the same individual had similarly harassed one of her peers.

The whole episode came back to her consciousness starting in 2017, when sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein began trickling out, sparking the #MeToo movement. 

“Everything changed with the #MeToo campaign as it appeared on the TV screens and in the newspapers,” Meidav said. “We realized that there’s a deeper problem that is going on. It will affect the workplace probably forever. And I started researching, and we came up with this idea that reporting can be fixed from the inside.”

Many HR departments rely on hotlines to report misconduct, but the process can take months or years. The same night that the allegations against Weinstein were first reported, Meidav got to work on what she sees as a better way — one that might make employees feel better about the process, while potentially speeding up any investigation.

Her solution: Vault Platform, an app that lets users save and time-stamp potential evidence, like inappropriate texts, e-mails, or messages, directly on their devices. In the case of an investigation, a time-stamped workplace diary can be invaluable evidence, and Vault Platform aims to simplify the process. 

Importantly, too, Vault Platform includes a feature called GoTogether, which allows users to pool their evidence and jointly file a claim — a feature that Meidav saw as vital to helping give victims more power, and the ability to support one another. 

For several months, Meidav juggled her project with her responsibilities as a senior energy and climate advisor in the British government. But by March 2018, Vault Platform was born and she was pitching investors full time.

In April, Meidav, now 34 years old, successfully raised $4.2 million in seed funding from Kindred Capital, Angular Ventures, Jane VC, and System.One. Meidav plans to grow her eight-person team, even as she says that Vault Platform is starting to find some traction with users in Silicon Valley — though it’s not ready to discuss specific customers just yet.

“There was an idea that was stronger than me, and my plans, and my career path, and everything I thought I got figured out about my life,” Meidav told Business Insider. “I’m a big believer in ideas.”

Read More: Her first month on the job, she had to oversee a 30% layoff. Now, Tile’s VP of People thinks she’s cracked the secret of building company culture even in the hard times.

Go together 

Meidav knew from her own experience that employees, and particularly female employees, would be more likely to report misconduct if they knew they weren’t the first or only one making such accusations, leading to the GoTogether feature.

“For the employee, it gives the ability to strength in numbers which is so important when it comes to reporting. With companies, it allows them to see those harmful patterns before they become tomorrow’s news,” Meidav said.

Meidav said the GoTogether feature was non-negotiable while she was building Vault Platform. She believes the feature could have saved a lot of pain if she had access to a similar tool all those years ago when she and her peer had the same bad experience with the same hiring manager. 

“If I would’ve known, it would’ve changed everything for me because from a credibility perspective. You know, if I could join hands with her and talk about it together, it would’ve changed everything,” Meidav said. 

Beth Steinberg, founder of Mensch Ventures and a Silicon Valley HR executive with more than 20 years of experience, told Business Insider emphasized that tools like this one won’t magically fix a broken corporate culture, but it could still be a valuable asset, nonetheless. 

“Where I think it is good and interesting is you get to see patterns arise,” Steinberg said. “Maybe one person will come forward, and two or three people feel that way but haven’t come forward yet. This could be a very good way to lessen the fear around reporting.”

Replacing the conventional hotline approach could have other benefits, too. 

“Hotlines were not effective for employees or employers,” Jennifer Neundorfer, cofounder of Jane VC and investor in Vault Platform, told Business Insider. “Every company is wrestling with this issue as employees demand that employers do more because this is bigger than #MeToo. It’s affecting employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment.”

Building trust

“The first thought process I go through when I work with a new company is which companies should not have this, and it is super hard for me to come up with one for Vault. I honestly can’t think of one that doesn’t need this,” Vault Platform advisor Frances Frei told Business Insider.

If Silicon Valley has a face on its struggle with workplace misconduct, Frei could be it. The former Harvard Business School professor joined Uber in June 2017 and was tasked with overhauling the startup’s notoriously “tech bro” culture in the wake of reports of a toxic workplace environment made by former engineer Susan Fowler

Meidav explained that it’s beneficial for the company to have the data and see if a specific employee or department needs to be reevaluated based on the type, frequency, and variation of the reports. Employees that report an incident can track the investigation in real time. This trust, Meidav said, “can be unlocked and enabled by technology.”

“If this would’ve helped even one day, I would have used it [at Uber],” Frei said. “Early action helps. Early identification helps. I hope we don’t have to wait a year or for 5 people to come forward. I hope we can get these things as close to the instance as possible.”

SEE ALSO: New Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston explains why he’s so excited about investing in the youngest startups, and his philosophy for helping them to grow

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This London handbag company has recycled 175 tons of fire hoses into fashion accessories