Zlien raises $5 million from Silicon Valley investors, plans hires

Zlien, a New Orleans tech company with an online platform for managing construction liens, has raised $5 million in a financing round led by a Silicon Valley venture capital fund. The company plans to hire up to 10 workers by late September.

In a Monday (July 18) statement, the company said it will use the funding to grow its sales and marketing teams, boost its presence in the construction industry and continue to develop software to target bottlenecks in the construction payment process.

Altos Ventures, a venture capital fund based in Menlo Park, Calif., led the funding round.

Scott Wolfe Jr., founder and CEO of Zlien, said payments in the construction industry are messy and riddled with distrust. The company’s platform seeks to simplify the process for contractors, suppliers and others, he said.

“We’re shifting the paradigm in the industry from protection first to collaboration first,” Wolfe said.

Founded in 2008, Zlien’s cloud-based web application now touches more than 300,000 construction projects a year. Its technology focuses on simplifying the management of mechanic’s lien rights.

A mechanic’s lien is the legal claim a subcontractor or supplier makes against property that has been remodeled or improved in order to make sure they get paid. For example, a supplier that provides bathroom sinks for an office building project and is not paid by the general contractor can place a lien against the office building to recover the money.

The Zlien platform brings together various stakeholders in construction projects — from contractors and suppliers to developers and lenders — to exchange lien waivers, construction notices and other key information.

Wolfe said in an email the company hired 11 new employees in the second quarter this year. Another two people were hired over the last two weeks. The company employs 55 total.

Wolfe said he expects to hire between six and 10 more workers in the current quarter. The company currently has listings for a range of positions, including data analyst, marketing director and sales representatives.

A funding round led by a Silicon Valley firm is big news for a city like New Orleans, where startups often report difficulty attracting venture capital both from local and outside investors.

Michael Hecht, president and CEO of economic development group Greater New Orleans Inc., said the Altos investment “continues the trend of East and West Coast capital finding new opportunities in greater New Orleans, and will surely lead to additional investment and growth in our region.”

Ho Nam, managing director at Altos Ventures, will join the company’s board as a result of the investment.

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