Forage was my first announced investment at Lightspeed. Find the original post here on Medium (also re-posted below). The team’s fundraising news was also announced in Techcrunch and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Does everyone want to become an investment banker or consultant? My junior year of college, the answer felt like yes. At 19, I didn’t have the first idea what these roles entailed. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a stock and a bond. But I knew the roles were coveted and led toward good paying jobs.
I failed every interview (of the few I received) over 2 years.
I knew if someone could just show me what people in Sales & Trading or Investment Banking did all day, I could figure it out. How hard could it be?? But without family or connections in the industry, I struggled to learn enough to break in. I’m sure many of you have had this same feeling — that you could perform much better in an interview if you had a better sense of what they did.
What if employers told you exactly what they’re looking for, and then hired you based on how you performed?
Forage does just this. Top employers like JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Deloitte, BCG, General Electric, Latham & Watkins and more post courses on Forage’s platform that teach candidates the skills they’re hiring for BEFORE they hire the candidate. Moreover, Forage is free for candidates. It erases the barrier to learning about jobs by simulating them virtually.
And that’s why we (Alex and I) are so excited to announce Lightspeed’s Series A investment in Forage (formerly InsideSherpa), the next generation skills-training, job search, and recruitment platform.
The first major platform combining career discovery, learning, and recruitment all in one, straight from employers.
Historically training and recruiting for jobs have been separate processes. First candidates learn, taking classes at university or on digital platforms like Udemy or Pluralsight, then candidates look for jobs, searching on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.
Forage simplifies and shortens this career search process into one step. Each interactive training course showcases example projects employees at that firm would complete. Imagine a “career exploration / shadowing day” that has been turned into an online course. When candidates submit their tasks for a course, recruiters receive the completed submissions in their applicant tracking system and invite candidates to interview directly inside Forage.
Employers are the authors
Forage shortens the career search process because the employers are the authors. There’s no better authority on a job than the employer itself. With many training providers, learners wonder how similar the content they’re learning will be to what employers are looking for. With Forage, candidates don’t have to worry about the strength of the credential, because the employer is the author.
A better way to recruit motivated talent
Forage is also a better solution for recruiters because it flips the classic recruitment model on its head. Rather than rely on outbound sourcing and resume book reviews to find candidates, employers who post a course generate a qualified pipeline of candidates who’ve already demonstrated interest and knowledge of their company.
Candidates love foraging for roles
To date over 1 million candidates have foraged for a role in one of Forage’s employer courses, and many have landed jobs through the platform. Applicants love Forage because it provides vocational education credentials with both credibility and affordability since Forage is free for candidates.
Forage also helps many more candidates understand what roles they’re NOT interested in, saving them from applying to or working in roles that don’t fulfill them.
A company with access and equity built into its business model
Forage democratizes access to information about careers, access to recruiters, and creates a more meritocratic playing field for job searchers. Forage succeeds when recruiters find amazing candidates who they wouldn’t have found otherwise. Recruiters are already hiring diverse, non-traditional talent through the platform.
Here’s a few more reasons why Forage aligns so well with Lightspeed’s investment philosophy:
- A timely need — 30–40M Americans and hundreds of millions more globally are out of work due to the pandemic. When they return to work, they’ll decide whether to pursue a new career. Forage can help them learn about new careers and connect with hiring teams.
- A massive market — The global e-learning market passed $200B in 2019, continuing its growth of the last decade as traditional higher education systems fail to keep pace with the speed of change in workforce needs. The sub sectors are also large: career upskilling is an $81B market, corporate learning and development $9B, college recruitment $10B, and lateral recruitment $35B.
- Strong organic growth — with virtually no money spent on marketing and recruitment, Forage saw course enrollments 10x in the spring and revenue 4x year over year. When we met Forage, the company was impressively cash flow positive.
- Global from day one — Forage serves employers in 5 continents, and over 50% of its revenue comes from outside the US today.
- A special content library — Forage has created a library of high quality content directly from employers. This type of content isn’t readily available in many other places and Forage has developed a specialty in helping employers tell their story.
- Alignment with our core values — I’m extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion. Access plays a major role in achieving equity. Forage not only aligns well with our financial investment criteria, but our core values as well. It’s a true double bottom line company.
I wish I had Forage when I was job-hunting, and if I wasn’t planning on staying in VC, I’d be using it right now.
We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Forage to the Lightspeed family as they help people become what they can see.
— Mercedes Bent and Alex Taussig