Propel, a Berlin-based HRTech startup with offices in Lisbon and Lagos that developed a managed services platform for communities and talent, has recently announced that it has raised $2.74 million (€2.5 million) in a seed funding round led by Amsterdam-based No Such Ventures, with participation from APX (Axel Springer & Porsche), Golden Egg Check, and Future of Learning Fund.
Co-founded by Sunkanmi Ola, Seun Owolabi, and Abel Agoi in 2020, Propel offers solutions that tech talent communities (developer groups, talent incubators, training institutions, etc.) can utilize to address last-mile issues, such as linking their members to employment opportunities, financial services (loans, asset financing), and other perks and rewards. The company provides this ‘value stack’ as a single platform that communities can use to serve their members better.
Sharing about the platform, Co-founder & CEO of Propel, Sunkanmi Ola, said:
Communities are the building blocks of any ecosystem, and tech communities, especially across high-growth markets like Africa and within underrepresented groups, have emerged in their thousands to cover the massive gaps in education, capacity building, and inclusion. They discover, up-skill, and mentor talent, organize hackathons, events, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and respond to global trends quicker than traditional institutions.
However, they are constantly on the lookout for how to solve problems faced by their members and become more financially sustainable while still pushing to achieve their impact goals. That’s a very tall order. But by giving communities access to a plug-in platform that solves their last mile, Propel helps them focus on what they know how to do best. And with communities being able to grow and connect deeper on a local level, Propel is looking to tangibly impact the growth of millions of people on a scale that has not been seen before.
The startup works with over 100+ tech communities in 15 countries, serving roughly 400,000 members. Its highlights include SheCodeAfrica, one of Africa’s largest female-focused communities; Ingressive for Good, an open community that trains thousands of people in tech annually; Niyo Network, a UK-based organization that runs Web2 and Web3 bootcamps for underrepresented women; and others like Datafest, People In Product, Friends of Figma, and various Google Developer Groups. Communities in Propel’s ecosystem vary widely by size, location, gender distribution, tech stack, etc.
Propel connects to the diverse talent pools within tech communities, stretching across numerous skill sets, from software development to design, data science to no-code, and other digital transformation talents, in return for providing last-mile infrastructure. This pipeline is made available to multinational corporations under the “Community as a Service” paradigm.
Adding about the firm, Co-founder & Head of Strategy Seun Owolabi said:
At Propel, we’re championing more responsible and regenerative ways of hiring/building talent pipelines. Rather than deploying opportunistic practices like headhunting or poaching, we participate deeply in ecosystems, using proprietary technology to find the best talent within communities. And when we place people in jobs, our revenue is shared with the community they belong to, which is reinvested into programs and initiatives needed to get more people into tech. In summary, Propel is where ambitious companies come to find the talent that is just right for their needs and crowd-solve tech challenges while doing good at the same time.
With this investment round, the company plans to expand its community platform, launch new tools to its value stack, and strengthen its ecosystem of communities. It also wants to use the funds to generate €1 million in revenue for gatherings by the fourth quarter of 2024.
The platform has collaborated with organizations including Porsche, Mercedes, Orange Telecoms, Farfetch, and Stepstone, as well as several startups and scaleups, particularly in Europe, for a variety of reasons, including hiring talent, co-creating hackathons for certain communities, and developing DEI projects.
Commenting on the fundraising, Sophie Heijenberg, Investor, No Such Ventures, said:
Propel’s unique, community-focused approach to driving the open talent economy sets them apart and is a solid addition to the Future of Work category. We’re bullish about their roadmap and super-excited to partner with them on this growth journey.
Propel has raised over €3 million and was backed by Google Black Founders in Europe.