Talent development company Everwise raises $8M

Steven Loeb · December 8, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/41e5

Everwise helps professionals reach their goals by matching them with mentors who can help guide them

If the top problem for companies is hiring the right people, the second biggest problem is keeping them, and making sure they reach their full potential. Unfortunately, most companies currently fail at this, not because it isn't something they care about but because they don't have the right tools.

That is where Everwise comes in. The company helps aspiring professionals define development goals and connect with the right mentors, peer groups and individually curated content. It matches employees directly to the people and resources that can help them be more productive and successful at every stage of their career.

The company announced on Tuesday that it has raised $8 million in Series A funding of funding from Canvas Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Webb Investment Network. The company had previously raised $2.3 million in funding from Webb Investment Network, IronFire Capital and a number of angels, such as Scott McNealy and Andre Haddad.

"Most organizations struggle to hold onto top talent. The minute people stop growing, they have one foot out the door," Mike Bergelson, co-founder and CEO of Everwise, told me in an interview. "The two things are correlated, and we want to reduce unwanted attrition. It's not most important problem in the world, but for lots of organization, retaining people is a top challenger."

He outlined three methods for not only keeping employees, but giving them the right tools to succeed in their future careers.

The first is to be exposed to ideas, either through books or videos. The second is guided learning, where a person has a mentor or a coach, to help go on the journey with them, where they build a relationship, and can offer guidance. And, third. is learning by doing, or trial and error.

What most companies do is only the first one. So if an employee is promoted to being a manager, they will be given a book to read or a video to watch, then sent out on their own.

"That's not the only way people learn, and it doesn't drive behavior change," Bergelson explained to me. "Companies only focus on first mode, but content is just small fraction of where real learning happens."

So what Everwise has done is taken all three methods and combined them into one platform. 

Here's how it works: in Bergelson's view, it starts out "a bit like an online dating platform," where it gets to know them and their goals, through a mix of software, and through interactions with a concierge, who will work with the user throughout the whole process.

"The concierges get people to open up and share into in a way that people wouldn't naturally do with software," Bergelson said, comparing them to what a fitness trainer would do for a person's body.

Right away, employees on the platform can jump right in and start learning with bite-sized lessons that have been selected by the Everwise global community for each specific growth area. The concierge will also them match the employee the right mentor. The company currently has a community of thousands of volunteer mentors, who are operating executives, who have signed up help out.

The concierge will book a meeting between the employee and the mentor after feeding the information into Everwise's algorithm. Each employee works with their mentor using a proven, structured process, with ongoing support from their Relationship Manager, to meet their goals and build their career.

The vast majority, around 94 percent of the time, the platform will make the right match between employee and mentor. Only six percent of the time do people have to be rematched, and only one percent of those people have to be matched again after that. So it has gotten pretty good at finding the right people.

Once the right people have been matched, Everwise guides 10 hours over six months at a minimum, but the employee and mentor can talk as much as they want. Some folks connect daily, and other every two or three weeks, Bergelson told me. 

"We are a mix of high tech and high touch. We are in your corner, curating to make sure you are progressing. We want to be like a  call center that employees are not afraid of using," he said.

The typical customer for Everwise are, right now, people who are becoming a manager, or an executive for the first time, as well as someone who has been labeled as high potential, who will be fast tracked in their organization.

Other use cases include people who are in the tirst 100 days in a new role, and people who face headwinds, including women approaching senior leadership.

"There may not be not overt bias, but there could be inherent bias. People don't even realize they are listening with different levels of attention when it is men versus women, so that present unique challenges. That is why we work with women in leadership," Bergelson said. 

Right now, employees on Everwise have to be invited on, to make sure they will be people who put in the effort, and make it worth it for the mentors to take them under their wing.

"It's important that we qualify the participants, to make sure they will put the work in. You can't learn unless you do the work," Bergelson said. "Not everyone is a great fit because it requires work. During the onboarding process, we watch patterns of engagement. If someone is not engaging in the process, they can't get to the next level."  

Historically, Everwise has worked with companies directly, who would recommend employees from their organizations that they believed should join. However that is going to change soon, as Everwise is going to allow individuals to join on their own.

"That is part of why we raised money, to enable employees to sign up directly. HR can be super busy, as well as risk averse, and we think people should have access to the right resources," Bergelson said.

"The reason we focused on companies directly is that we first started marketed to individuals, and there was overwhelming demand, because who wouldn’t want mentor? A third to half viewed mentoring as a way to get a new job, which is unsatisfying for mentors. Selling to companies dramatically reduced the number of people. But now that we have a bunch of data sets, and we know which questions to ask, we know how to qualify those folks out."

In addition, the company will use the funding to double its 40 person team over the next year, hiring in engineering, sales and marketing, and some operations, as well as some on the learning and curriculum side. The company has a PhD in science on the staff, and he will building out his team. 

The vast majority of it, though, will be used for go to market, and to keep building out the product, eventually being able to become a complete solution, and one that can augment the experience to individual users. 

"We want to be the integrated talent platform for organization that care deeply about developing people," Bergelson said.

Everwise is based in New York City and San Francisco. 

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Everwise provides a completely new model for talent development. Our mission is to connect professionals to the people and resources they need to thrive at every stage of their career.


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