Wilco Exits Stealth With $7Million Seed, Launching ‘Flight Simulator’ to Help Software Engineers Take Control of Their Career Growth
The game-like platform helps software engineers accelerate their professional growth and develop expert intuition through real-world engineering challenges in a “fantasy” startup
Wilco, an immersive upskilling platform for software developers, announced the release of its first public version and $7 million in seed funding. The round was led by Hetz Ventures, with participation from leading funds and angel investors including Vertex Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Shopify VP Engineering Farhan Thawar.
In a recent survey, software engineers stated that their biggest career motivator is taking on new challenges and continuous learning. “To build successful careers, developers need to acquire and continuously practice a wide range of skills beyond coding,” said On Freund, co-founder and CEO of Wilco. “Many soft skills and technical areas of expertise — like team communication, debugging complex systems, and responding to crises — are picked up by developers only with countless hours of hands-on experience, which is hard to come by.”
On Wilco’s platform, developers join a fantasy tech company — a game-like experience designed to accelerate their professional growth. At their “new workplace”, engineers go on quests that challenge them to navigate complex life-like scenarios while utilizing real tools and technologies.
One quest, aimed at honing skills like debugging and communication, begins with the developer being notified via the workplace messaging app about a mysterious issue with the fantasy company’s application. The developer must analyze data to identify the affected users, recreate the issue on their own device, find the problematic code, and push their fix to the company’s code repository on Github. When needed, guidance from virtual coworkers is provided through the messaging app, simulating a modern remote work environment.
“One of the critical challenges I’ve faced throughout my career as an engineering leader is finding ways to nurture talent and ensure the continuous growth of every team member,” said Farhan Thawar, VP Engineering at Shopify. “That’s what got me so excited when I tried the Wilco platform — the realistic environment brought me back to my early days as a dev team contributor and the engineering scenarios addressed precisely those abstract skills that are so hard to teach. On top of that, Wilco has managed to create an engaging learning experience through narrative and storytelling, making it a true game-changer for developer growth.”
“Wilco empowers software engineers to take control of their professional development,” said Pavel Livshiz, General Partner at Hetz Ventures. “With Wilco, the opportunity to upskill is no longer dependent on the goodwill of a manager or on having the resources to take on time-consuming side projects. Engineers at any level can now continuously develop their skillset at an accelerated pace”.
With its unique upskilling solution, Wilco also aims to improve career advancement opportunities for groups underrepresented in the tech industry. “Nowadays, even the most junior positions require some experience, and many opportunities are limited to those who are already ahead or those privileged with a strong social network,” said Freund. “Wilco’s mission is to empower every developer, regardless of their background or skill level, to unlock their full potential.”
The currently available quests created by Wilco’s team, who have deep expertise in software development as well as game design, cover key software engineering skills and concepts. Additionally, the platform features quests designed with content partners — including New Relic, Applitools, and JFrog — which allow developers to gain real-world experience with popular dev tools. Quests covering additional tools and technologies will be added soon, as well as support for community-authored content.
“Wilco has created an original way for developers to gain experience with tools,” said Jemiah Sius, Director of Developer Advocacy at New Relic. “We are excited to provide the opportunity for developers to engage with our product in a real-world setting, enabling us to easily communicate the value our product offers, while allowing developers to quickly acquire expertise.”
Starting today, any developer can join the waitlist for the free upskilling platform,
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