Rajeeb Dey’s new career platform Learnerbly secures £1.6M led by Frontline Ventures

Professional development is one of the hot areas for big
corporates grappling with their millennials influx who are
hungry to learn, so it makes sense that new platforms are now
appearing to service this need.

Today, Learnerbly, a “curated
professional development SaaS platform” based in London
announces that it has raised £1.6 million in seed financing to
create a so-called Development Management System. The round was
led by Frontline Ventures, while other participants in the
London headquartered start-up funding round include Playfair
Capital, the Mayor of London’s London Co-Investment Fund
(LCIF), Future Planet Capital and UK tech angels including
Stephan Thoma, former Global Learning and Development director,
Google; Renaud Visage, co-founder, Eventbrite; Jason Stockwood,
CEO, Simply Business; and Claire Davenport, CEO, HelloFresh UK.
It already has clients including IDEO, carwow, and ustwo

The founder and CEO is Rajeeb Dey MBE, a high-profile person in
the UK tech community after previously founding Enternships, a
portal which connected students and graduates to internships
and graduate jobs in startups and fast growing businesses. For
that he became a Young Global Leader (YGL) for the World
Economic Forum in 2012 and the youngest recipient of the
Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2013.

Enternships will be the parent company/legal entity for
Learnerbly, while Enternships will remain as a free to use,
self-service jobs platform for startups/SMEs.

The idea is that Learnerbly allows SMEs to manage the
development of their staff using personal development planning
tools which flex around their personal needs. Employees are
matched to learning opportunities and these are curated via
peer-to-peer recommendations and insights from over 100
industry experts from companies including Google, Airbnb, AKQA
and Unruly. Over 50% of the learning recommendations are either
free or cheap to access.

The market for professional learning is highly fragmented and
small businesses can rarely access the “Learning Management
Systems (LMS)” aimed at big companies. This is a market also
being attacked by the UK-based Smartup.io which this year

raised $5.5m
. In addition, competitors Degreed and Sequoia-backed
Everwise are
focused on the enterprise and are both US-based.

Learnerbly takes a bottom-up approach, allowing employees to
learn however they choose — whether it’s by reading a book or
article, attending a course or watching a TED talk. Employers
cam also give employees learning budgets who can then spend
that on courses, conferences, books and coaching through the
platform. HR departments get given a view of the choices and
the platform captures feedback on all internal and third-party
learning opportunities and uses this to recommend the best
resources and ascertain the return on investment.

Dey told me he saw the need after working on Enternships and
seeing that the people placed into internships needed more
professional development as they grew. “Despite nearly $360bn
being spent globally by businesses in 2016 on professional
development, there is still a disconnect between spend,
activity and impact. Learnerbly leverages expert insights and
brings transparency to expenditure by continuously assessing
the efficacy of all forms of learning activities. By placing
our focus on the application rather than solely the acquisition
of knowledge we are able to evaluate the impact of learning
both for the employee and the business. We are creating a new
category in the industry which we are calling a Development
Management System,” he says.

William McQuillan, Partner at Frontline Ventures says:
“Millennials do not look at a job as a job for life, but
instead as a stepping stone. Learning and development are
therefore crucial to them when considering which employers they
want to join or stay with.”

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