Forage cofounders and UNSW Founders 10x alumni Tom Brunskill and Pasha Rayan have secured $US25 million ($34 million) in funding led by Blackbird Ventures. This brings the total funds raised by Forage to $49 million.
Brunskill and Rayan say they will use this new funding to improve the breadth and depth of content on the Forage platform and expand from Australia and the United States to South Africa, south-east Asia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Founded in 2017, Forage lets employers offer job candidates free virtual training courses. Brunskill and Rayan, saw virtual work internship programs as the way forward to helping students, especially foreign students, choose their career paths and land jobs on graduation.
“Students have a large anxiety about not really understanding what the real world is like, and, they're not really given many opportunities to know it either, through school or through their friends or even through some work experiences that are not reflective of what you do as a graduate,” Mr Rayan said.
UNSW Founders provided program support and investment in Forage at a very early stage. Within only a few years this led onto significant investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and seed money from startup accelerator Y-combinator, which allowed the startup to expand into the US.
Alongside Blackbird, this latest raise has been backed by Citi Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, FundersClub, Gaingels and Cap Table Coalition.
Forage currently employs 50 people and has 1.3 million student users around the globe, including the US, UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
“The main thing for us is to serve customers and then understand what the biggest problems are for our users. And then, trying to figure out ways to solve that. What’s better? And what’s the main deal? Also understanding the problem really well and trying to find a better solution to what exists. That led us to do more interesting and unique things. I'm quite proud of our businesses for that.
“When our business gets better, it actually helps more people and it makes the world a little bit better in our own little way.”
The team has established relationships with over 350 universities, with some integrating Forage’s courses into their curriculums to align them with future employer needs.
Since the pandemic, the startup has enrolled nearly two million students and signed up 90 major corporate partners, including Citi, KPMG, Goldman Sachs and King & Wood Mallesons.