With high rates of unemployment, an emphasis on entrepreneurship as the rope to pull America out of its economic slump, and the impending Presidential election, jobs are a hot button topic. Entrepreneurs not only create jobs for themselves, they create jobs for other people. This could take the form of direct employment, or as we are seeing in today’s funding news, by creating platforms that leverage the power of a workforce looking for work. Whether it be a marketplace for skilled labor, a language learning service to boost a resume, or a tool to simplify opening an online store, startups and their investors are putting in their part to jumpstart American business.

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Gigwalk raises a fresh $6M, expands Bing Maps partnership

Temp work marketplace Gigwalk has raised another $6 million. Gigwalk pairs businesses with short term workers for a wide range of jobs, including mystery shopping, photography, and flier distribution. Launched last year, the company has raised $7.7 million to date, underscoring investor interest in the approach.Also increasing is interest in the company from Microsoft, which has enlisted Gigwalk workers to expand its Bing Maps data. Read more on VentureBeat.  

Crowdsource nabs $12.5M to bring scalable labor to the enterprise 

Crowdsource, a company that crowdfunds labor-intensive tasks like content creation and data-crunching, has raised $12.5 million in a round led by Highland Capital Partners. The St Louis-based startup’s typical workers are students, housewives, and people with flexible hours. They receive a decent hourly wage (usually between $15 and $30), cash bonuses, and opportunities for higher-paid tasks. Since it launched in June 2011, the startup has signed on 500,000 workers, who have completed over 25 million tasks. Read more on VentureBeat.

Clever makes teaching with technology as easy as 1,2,3

While new developments in education technology may enhance the learning process for students, it can be challenging for instructors to implement. To address this issue, Y Combinator startup Clever has raised $3 million to make this process easier. Clever’s technology integrates data held in Student Information Systems (SIS) into educational software. This means teachers can focus on teaching, instead of data integration.

A number of Y Combinator partners personally invested in this  round, as well as SV Angel, Mike Maples, Jeff Clavier, Google Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Mitch Kapor, Ashton Kutcher, and a slew of high profile ed tech executives. Read more on VentureBeat.

Tictail makes Do-It-Yourself e-commerce easier than arts and crafts

Do-It-Yourself yourself is all the rage these days, as I unpleasantly experienced when I smothered my hands in hot glue in an attempt to craft Japanese style lateens for my patio. However certain types of DIY endeavors are far more practical, like those run on Tictail. Tictail offers an e-commerce platform where retailers can set up their own online stores.

Balderton Capital has given the Sewdish company €1.2 million in seed funding to continue expanding its roster of features, tools, and services. Since launching in about six months ago, Tictail powers more than 5000 stores. Its primary markets are in Europe, and this investment will help fuel UK expansion. Read the press release. 

Lithium Technologies gets $5.6 power shot to buy Social Dynamx
Lithium Technologies has raised an additional $5.6 million to power a “business combination transaction,” such as a merger, acquisition or exchange. Although unconfirmed, this money is likely connected to the October 9th announcement that Lithium acquired Social Dynamx.

Lithium helps brands build social networks that can be used to drive sales and marketing, inform product development, and improve customer service. It closed $53.4 million in its fourth round of financing in January. This recent offering lists investors from Shasta VenturesEmergenceBenchmark and New Enterprise Associates. These firms all participated in the Series D, as did SAP VenturesDAG VenturesGreenspring Associates, and Tenaya Capital. Read more on VentureBeat.

Language-learning tool Busuu gains $5M and a boardmember from LastMinute.com

Busuu, a startup with a free tool for you to master a new language, has pulled in about $5 million in its first round funding. The company describes itself as a “social network for language learning” — it offers free and paid-for audio-visual courses in 12 languages, including Spanish and French. There is a free web version, as well as a well-designed mobile and tablet application. What’s unique about this technology is that every user is a both tutor and a tutee. The series A round was led by PROfounders Capital with participation from angel investors. Read more on VentureBeat. 


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