The Global VC

Mirza’s Goal: Empower Parents to Take Control of Family Finances

COVID-19 has reshaped the labor market and forced a readjustment around work-life integration. We believe there's an opportunity to create solutions for working parents that help them pursue careers while raising children.

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Mirza founders Siran Cao (left) and Mel Faxon.
Picture courtesy of Mirza

Clayton Bryan

Clayton Bryan

Partner at 500 Global





There’s a longstanding childcare crisis in the U.S. and the COVID-19 pandemic has only eroded the situation for many families. This has disproportionately impacted women, who have left the workforce in worrying numbers as it became harder to balance career and family. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. We see an opportunity to create solutions for working parents that help them pursue careers while raising children. Enter Mirza, which works with employers to provide financial products and personalized planning tools that help with everything from navigating maternity leave policies to predicting future childcare costs. 

The Nuts & Bolts

Problem: COVID-19 has reshaped the labor market and forced a readjustment around work-life integration. Childcare—which was already broken in the U.S., suddenly became an even more significant issue, with families sequestered at home and tackling work, school and care at once. The brunt of that burden has fallen on mothers. Women’s jobs have been almost twice as vulnerable to the pandemic as men’s, with one in four women considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers, versus one in five men. Overall, women’s labor force participation has dropped to 57% during the pandemic. 

These trends have potential economic ramifications. Reversing course requires investments in education, family planning, maternal health, financial inclusion and more. Policies and tools that provide flexibility and support for mothers may prove key to attracting and retaining talent. Against that backdrop, we believe there’s potential to create new products and services designed for working parents. 

Solution: Mirza’s mission is to end the “motherhood penalty” by building family financial health and helping to make it a choice for moms to pursue their careers. It offers employers a suite of products that allow families to predict and prepare for future costs, while giving employers an opportunity to retain talent and enhance workplace equity.

Underpinned by a dataset, Mirza’s platform encompasses a range of financial solutions, FSA/HSA, insurance, and Mirza’s own products: securitized childcare “care now, pay later” financing ISAs, pension gap-free 401Ks. Once employees set up their financial plan through Mirza, the company’s algorithm optimizes contributions towards these accounts and maximizes employer benefits.

Crucially, Mirza’s platform is built to grow with users: once a child is born, parents become eligible for financial products, such as 529s or ESAs. As childcare costs become education costs, Mirza provides ongoing options. 

Getting to know Mirza

Mirza was co-founded by CEO Siran Cao and COO Mel Faxon. Siran graduated from Harvard with a degree in gender studies and later worked for Uber building its driver support organization in New York, before attending the London School of Economics to study social business and entrepreneurship. Mel attended London Business School and has a range of experiences, from managing a luxury real estate portfolio to co-founding a wellness company. The pair met during their graduate degrees and stayed in touch. Mirza was born when they caught up over coffee, the conversation moved to picking apart the gender wage gap, and their napkin sketches revealed the beginnings of a solution. 

Why now?

The pandemic could be spurring a generational change in the workplace and making it unavoidable to ignore the childcare crisis any longer. As this megatrend unfolds, we believe Mirza is well-positioned to tackle systemic issues faced by working parents.

There are 83.1 million families in the U.S., 78.2% of which had at least one employed member in 2020. But the time to act is now: a recent study found nearly a quarter of women surveyed are planning on leaving their jobs sooner due to their company’s pandemic response. But by taking action now to achieve gender-parity improvements by 2030, we could add $13 trillion to the global GDP and potentially create hundreds of millions of new jobs for women globally. 

The future of Mirza

Mirza is currently expanding its parent community and driving engagement within organizations as it develops and tests different financial products with employers. Going forward, Mirza has an opportunity to expand to become a full-fledged neo-bank focused on families. Think of it as a more family oriented version of SoFi, a neo bank that initially focused on recent professional school graduates. We look forward to supporting Mirza as it creates solutions that help working parents feel confident in their future financial health. 

You can learn more about Mirza at: 


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Clayton Bryan

Clayton Bryan

Partner at 500 Global

Clayton Bryan is an early stage venture investor and operator. Currently a Partner at 500 Global, Clayton has spent time at some of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley. He has built expansive online communities, scaled marketplace businesses, and facilitated million dollar deals. At Yahoo he worked on award winning products. Later, at Payvment, he helped a team pioneer a new set of tools that started the social commerce movement. With Diversity as a guiding principle, Clayton has spent the entirety of his career within venture capital focused on supporting underrepresented founders. In 2016, Clayton and four others launched a non-profit organization, Transparent Collective, tasked with coaching and connecting underrepresented founders with investors. Companies to have gone through Transparent Collective's program have raised tens of millions of dollars in early stage financings. Clayton has invested in over 30 companies, including Printify, Public Goods, Silk+Sonder, Blue Wire, Fintor, Neon Financial, Hamama, EcoCart, JusticeText, Pariti, and Kiira. He Received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Economy from The University of California, Berkeley and his Masters of Business Administration from The Stern School of Business at New York University.