WorkRamp, an enterprise training software company, today announced it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding. The startup is aiming to improve training within companies by providing tools and templates to enhance employees’ skills, making them more valuable to the company.
The platform basically hooks into any type of existing training program, be it in-person or an online webinar. The idea, according to the founders, is to organize training initiatives, provide data analytics on how well people are doing, and integrate the platform with other software tools, such as Salesforce (data perspective and correlation) and Slack (push out communications about the training).
The Y Combinator startup had already raised an initial $120,000 after completing the accelerator program in August of this year. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., WorkRamp was founded in late 2015 and has since been working on developing its software as a service (SaaS) for enterprises. “We noticed that people were hacking cloud storage systems like Google Drive or Dropbox to be able to do better training,” said Ted Blosser, cofounder and CEO of WorkRamp, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We realized that there had to be a better way to disseminate this knowledge.”
WorkRamp isn’t the first to address the issue of quality training within companies. Others — like Cornerstone OnDemand, which helps organizations recruit, train, and manage their people, or SAP SuccessFactors, a provider of cloud-based human capital management (HCM) software — are already well-established in the market. But what WorkRamp is trying to do is offer a more personalized and customizable service.
The startup has about 50 customers at present, ranging from Stripe, Twilio, and PayPal in the U.S. to Off Grid Electric in Africa. “Training is a global, international problem, regardless of what you do as a business,” said cofounder Percia Safar. WorkRamp offers a variety of interactive exercises, such as video or sound recordings of sales pitches that can then be shared on platforms through which managers can provide feedback and reviews. Companies pay $15-20 per user per month for the service.
Enterprise training is an increasingly trending topic, especially in light of the middle class malaise that is spreading across the U.S. “We see companies across the Midwest, like AM Transport, using WorkRamp to train the next generation of skilled workers,” said Safar. Large corporations have also weighed in on this issue. IBM recently published an open letter to President-Elect Donald J. Trump, encouraging him to create “New Collar” jobs by supporting IBM’s educational initiatives. “We think investments in vocational education through IBM and skilled training through WorkRamp will allow us to utilize our labor force at its full potential,” concludes Safar.
The challenge ahead will lie in the automation of the workforce via bots and AI, which is one of the greatest fears of middle-class workers across the country. Otto’s self-driving trucks are just one example of encroaching technology. “People are going to get automated out of their jobs,” said Blosser. “We can be the platform to retrain and retool that workforce to be used in another area of the business.” Manufacturing workers or truck drivers could therefore be retrained to take customer support calls, for example.
WorkRamp currently has seven employees and will use the new funds to expand its team and market reach. The round was led by Susa Ventures and included Initialized Capital, Haystack, Liquid 2, Y Combinator, and angel investors Elad Gil, Adrian Aoun, Charlie Songhurst, and Wei Guo.