Startup Raises $7.65 Million to Translate the Value of College into a Language Employers Understand
AstrumU helps colleges and universities signal skills that matter to U.S. employers to create a more equitable and inclusive hiring process
AstrumU, a Seattle-based startup that is pioneering the use of machine learning to forecast the value of educational experiences in the labor market, announced its $7.65 million in Series A funding led by Kingdom Capital, along with the KC Rise Fund, and City Light Capital, bringing the company’s total funding to $13.2 million.
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Heidrick Struggles chairman Adam Warby and DocuSign founder Court Lorenzini (investors in AstrumU’s seed investment, which included Ignition Partners, Correlation Ventures, the University of Kansas, and ASU ScaleU) also participated in the round. Warby will join AstrumU as chairman of the board of the directors.
“Employers know that talent isn’t dictated by where you went to school, and pedigree isn’t a good proxy for potential, but they don’t always know where to find the skills they are looking for, excluding many qualified graduates as a result,“ said Adam Wray, founder and CEO of AstrumU. “This is about providing employers with trusted insights into who college graduates are in ways that go well beyond the college transcript or a resume. It’s about leveling the playing field by helping students — and colleges — translate their experience into an incredibly dynamic world of work.”
Following the decision by a growing number of employers to eliminate college degree requirements, or halt on-campus recruiting, the White House issued an executive order that would prioritize skills over degrees in federal hiring practices. But a growing body of research suggests that liberal arts and other more traditional academic programs have significant, long term economic value in a future of work where skills like problem solving and critical thinking are in-demand.
AstrumU’s platform ingests verified data directly from both colleges, and employers, to understand — and predict — how specific skills, courses, and even internships or extracurricular activities translate into career outcomes. By creating personalized “Learner Scores” for students, AstrumU can help to inform college coaching and advising efforts with an understanding of how course taking pathways, majors, and other choices affect a student’s return on educational investments. Employers utilize the platform to understand the academic backgrounds of top performing employees, to identify high potential candidates regardless of where they went to school.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach. We see liberal arts majors thriving in tech jobs and philosophy majors translating their skills into finance. AstrumU is enabling institutions to take the false dichotomy of skills vs. degrees head on,” said Doug Girod, chancellor of the University of Kansas. “It enables employers to broaden their search for talent. But it is also shedding light on the surprising ways that college prepares us for the world of work, often through experiences that would never show up in a resume, transcript or test scores.”
Originally incubated at the University of Kansas, AstrumU’s suite of tools for learners, advisors, and is now being used by an initial cohort of colleges and universities across the country including the University of Kansas, the University of Washington, American University and [others].
“Employers are leaving talent on the table because of the simplistic—and often incomplete—measures we use to recruit, screen and hire candidates, which has profound implications for equity in the workforce and our economy,” said Chet Guess, CTO & President of the Technology Investment Group at Kingdom Capital. “This new approach to measuring—and signaling—skills is one of the most important investments we can make to build a more inclusive workforce.”
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