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Formerly known as InsideSherpa, Forage aims to bolster its market presence and team-building efforts
Y Combinator-backed edtech startup InsideSherpa has closed its Series A funding with US$9.3 million in its kitty, the company announced last week. It added that InsideSherpa will also be rebranding itself to a new company name, Forage.
The funding round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, the company said, and will be used to expand its hiring efforts in engineering, product and sales roles. Co-founder and CEO of Forage, Tom Brunskill added that the company will also be beefing up its presence in Asia, Europe and North America.
InsideSherpa announced that it will also be rebranding itself to Forage, with a new logo and website URL. Rebranding efforts will continue over the next six months, the company said.
“For us, the name Forage evokes self-development, curiosity and self-sustenance, things that reflect the qualities of the students and companies in our ecosystem,” Brunskill said about the rebrand.
The company, which was founded in Australia and eventually moved to San Francisco, has raised funding to the tune of $11.6 million so far, the company noted. Apart from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Y Combinator, Forage also counts FundersClub and Arizona State University amongst its investors.
Forage is a skill-building edtech platform that provides access to online training programs in partnership with companies. The platform offers virtual work experience courses to equip students with a first-hand entry-level introduction to workplace skills.
Founded in 2017 by Brunskill and Pasha Rayan, Forage is a global company spread across San Francisco, Sydney, New York and London, the company said. Over 50% of its revenues are derived from sources outside the U.S., it further noted, with 30 full-time staff members on its payroll.
The company noted that it aims to increase its product offerings to encapsulate more job roles as well as programs targeted at audiences beyond college goers in the future.
Forage’s solution is focused on enabling students, who will eventually become job seekers, to be work-ready and develop career-compatible skills. It has had over a million enrolments on its platform, the company said in the announcement.
Some of Forage’s partner companies include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft, BCG, Accenture, Latham & Watkins, Goldman Sachs, GE, KPMG, Deloitte, Clifford Chance and Equinix, the company noted.
The company further noted that since April 2020, it has had a total of 830,000 new enrollments, the company said, with an average of 165,000 new enrollments each month. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was seeing enrollments of 20,000 to 30,000 new students each month.
Moreover, over a million projects have been delivered through courses on Forage’s platform since April this year, and the company also launched 54 courses globally across the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and South Africa, as well as China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia in the APAC region.
The KPMG Data Analytics Program is currently its most popular course, with over 100,000 enrolments since April, the company said.
“We don’t believe there is a silver bullet solution to fixing the education (or recruitment) system (which is why we love seeing other companies tackle this same problem), but we think our model will play an incredibly important role in democratizing skill-building & employment opportunities in a scalable way,” Brunskill said in the announcement.
Forage’s courses are free and openly accessible for students, while its corporate partners pay a yearly subscription fee to host their courses on the company’s platform.
The company was founded as a mentoring marketplace connecting students with young professionals, and eventually pivoted to their current business model and product based on insights from its student user-based.
“As the product evolved, we’ve long felt it was time to evolve our company name as well,” Brunskill noted about the rebrand.
Adding that the company had been considering a rebrand for a while, Brunskill said, “With this funding round, we thought now was the right time to introduce a new company name and rebranded look and feel.”
According to a 2019 report, problem-solving, resilience, and communication are the top three skills facing between graduate skills and employer expectations worldwide. Of these, problem-solving and communication are the most important skills globally.
Moreover, problem-solving was a top skill gap across industries including tech, sales, manufacturing, law, health, and finance, according to the report.
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