Edtech startup Forage bags $25m Series B led by Blackbird Ventures

Photo: Mimi Thian / Unsplash.com

Remote learning startup Forage has closed a $25 million Series B round led by Blackbird Ventures, with participation from Telstra Ventures, Citi Ventures, Gaingels, Cap Table Coalition, ETF@JFFLabs and existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and FundersClub.

This brings the total funding of the San Francisco-based startup to $36.6 million.

Forage, which has offices in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Miami, New York, and London, last raised $9.3 million in Series A funding, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in September 2020.

This fresh round comes after a period of significant growth for the company, with 1.8 million candidates turning to Forage’s virtual experience programmes to build career skills during the pandemic.

The fresh funds will go towards investing in its core product, virtual experience programmes, as well as expanding its curriculum of programmes, according to a press release.

Forage was founded in 2017 by Tom Brunskill and Pasha Rayan and formerly known as InsideSherpa.

Forage aims to tackle the problem of mismatch between the skills that candidates possess, and the skills that employers identify as being critical to job success, leading to a misalignment between the skillsets candidates possess and the roles they are being hired for. The startup helps candidates build critical career skills and visibility before the hiring process.

Furthermore, traditional recruitment methods have significantly disadvantaged students from underserved communities and underrepresented minorities.

Forage partners with over 350 universities globally to embed virtual experience programmes in coursework and their careers centres, including with Macquarie University, Maynooth University, UCLA, University of Westminster, and National University of Singapore.

“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,” said Forage CEO and co-founder, Tom Brunskill. “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.”

Blackbird, the lead investor in the latest funding, is a venture capital fund based in Australia and New Zealand that raised A$500 million ($356 million) for its fourth fund in September 2020 to invest in startups in these two countries. Its portfolio companies include graphic design unicorn Canva in which it has pumped in over $110 million and US-based autonomous vehicle company Zoox, which was sold to Amazon for a reported $1.3 billion in June last year. 

The edtech sector has seen a boom during the pandemic as learning turned virtual.

In April, Tiger Global Management injected $50 million in Indonesian edtech startup Ruangguru’s latest funding round. In June, Seoul-based edtech startup Mathpresso raised $50 million in a Series C funding round from investors including GGV Capital, Yellowdog, Goodwater Capital, and KDB.

In the same month, private equity giant KKR announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the Australia- and New Zealand-based edtech company Education Perfect (EP) via its Global Impact Fund. The transaction translates into an equity value of around $301 million for the edtech company.

According to MarketResearch.com, the edtech and smart classroom market in APAC is expected to grow from $ 17.7 billion in 2019 to $ 64.35 billion by 2027.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.