Forage, an online platform that offers virtual work experiences to students has raised $25 million in a Series B round led by Blackbird, a Venture Capital fund based in Australia and New Zealand.
Telstra Ventures, Citi Ventures, Gaingels, Cap Table Coalition, ETF@JFFLabs, present traders Lightspeed Undertaking Partners and FundersClub have also participated in the fundraise.
The new funding will allow Forage to invest in its core product 'Virtual Work Experience Programs', as well as focus on expanding its curriculum of programs. The company is looking to expand its offering into sectors such as healthcare, biotech, life sciences, retail, and media.
The latest funding comes after a period of significant growth for the company with 1.8 million candidates turning to Forage's virtual experience programs to build career skills during the pandemic.
Forage partners with employers to create open access online training courses called ‘Virtual Work Experience Programs’ for college students to build vital career skills and industry knowledge for free and help them land jobs at the world's best companies. The programs simulate real work that employees would undertake, enabling tertiary students to build the skills and the confidence to land their first job.
The startup aims to tackle the difficulty of mismatch concerning the expertise that candidates have, and the expertise that companies recognize as getting significant to career success, top to a misalignment between the skillsets candidates possess and the roles they are staying hired for. It helps candidates build vital professional capabilities and visibility in advance of the employing procedure.
Established in 2017 by Tom Brunskill and Pasha Rayan, and formerly recognized as InsideSherpa, the US-based startup partners with about 350 universities globally to embed virtual experience programs in coursework and their professions centers, which includes Macquarie University, Maynooth College, UCLA, College of Westminster, and Countrywide College of Singapore.
Responding to the latest development, CEO and Co-founder Tom Brunskill said,
"Forage provides an affordable, scalable way of flipping the traditional recruitment method of ‘hire then train’, with the startup’s students four times more likely to be offered a role than their non-Forage counterparts. The current recruitment system is broken. The reality is that seeking to start a career at most post-tertiary employers is not a journey that is equal for everyone. We need to level the playing field so that all candidates, no matter where they come from or what their background is, have an equitable opportunity to build skills and kick-start their career."
The company has enrolled almost 2 million students since the pandemic started and signed up 90 major corporates including Citi, KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and King & Wood Mallesons.
Blackbird Ventures partner Tom Humphrey has said,
"The venture capital firm was enthusiastic about the better model of recruitment Forage enabled based on pre-skilling. There’s a bigger theme around ‘eduployment’ which is the idea of bringing the worlds of education and work closer together. Forage had the potential to be the glue between how the worlds of work and education overlap and communicate with each other."
Courses take an average of five hours to complete and simulate projects or tasks that employees at a particular company would complete, allowing students to build real-life, tangible skills and truly understand what their career could look like.
Forage, which has offices in Sydney, Peth, Melbourne, Miami, New York, and London, had raised $9.3 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in September 2020.