San Francisco-based edtech startup InsideSherpa has raised $9.3 million in a Series A funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners to continue investing in students through its virtual work experience programs.
Along with the funding, the company has upgraded its brand from InsideSherpa to ‘Forage’ to better reflect “who we are and what we value – specifically the intuitive, innovative, and adaptable nature of our students, our platform, and the companies we work with.”
Started in 2016 by Tom Brunskill and Pasha Rayan, Forage hosts company-backed free open-access virtual internships for college students all around the world. Its programs allow students to build career skills, gain experience and increase their understanding of different careers. Forage provides a platform where any student from anywhere can see what it is like to work at the companies they are interested in.
Forage partners with large companies that employ upwards of 1,000 students per year via internships. Its courses are designed in collaboration with the particular company, which gives students a chance to explore what a career would look like at their firm before the entry-level application process opens. Forage claims to have enrolled more than 1 million students in its free online programs, with companies including KPMG, JP Morgan and Microsoft paying a subscription fee to have their courses on the platform.
Commenting on the development and current situation for the student community, Tom Brunskill said,
“Career uncertainty is unprecedented for the student community right now, internships are being cancelled, universities are moving online and work experience opportunities are drying up. Then put into the mix that we’re seeing some significant tailwinds around the acceptance of remote learning, online learning, upskilling and we’ve really seen students flock to Forage.”
Some of the popular courses include JPMorgan Chase Software Engineering Virtual Internship, Deloitte Tech Consulting Virtual Internship, KPMG Data Analytics Virtual Internship, and Microsoft Engineering Program.
Forage plans to use the investment to expand its team which is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Miami, New York and London.
Commenting on the investment, Mercedes Bent, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said,
"The pandemic had put hundreds of millions of people out of jobs globally and Forage was an essential platform for employers and candidates looking for talent and work."
The company claims to have seen a huge growth in terms of enrolments through the COVID-19 pandemic, with 830,000 new students signing up since April, up from 20,000 to 30,000 each month before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Forage has now raised $11.6 million in known venture funding. Its other investors include Steve Baxter’s Transition Level Investments, FundersClub, Y Combinator, and Arizona State University.