Corporate learning startup GO1 has raised $10 million in Series A funding in a round led by Australian online recruitment giant Seek, as it looks to take its ed-tech platform global.
GO1 is an online marketplace for professional development and general training, launched by Andrew Barnes and co-founders Chris Eigeland, Chris Hood and Vu Tran in 2015, when it completed the Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley.
Fresh out of the program in 2015, the startup closed a $1.36 million investment round, led by Australian entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Steve Baxter and Sydney venture capital firm Tank Stream Ventures. In January last year it raised a further $4 million.
Now, the startup has more than 350 companies using the platform in Australia, the UK and the US, and more than 100 employees.
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Barnes isn’t specific on the numbers, but he says the business has increased its revenue by two to three times in the past year.
This latest investment is pegged for growing GO1’s product and engineering teams, Barnes says, but it will also contribute to growth in additional markets worldwide.
“We think it’s a global opportunity and that’s something we’re excited about,” Barnes tells StartupSmart.
The Series A funding is led by Seek, a company founded in 1997 and which now has a market capitalisation of around $7 billion.
Already a GO1 customer, it was Seek that suggested the investment, and while the founders had not considered this route previously, when they thought about it, “it was really obvious that they would be excellent as investors and also on the strategic side”, Barnes says.
And having a company on board that has seen growth on a global scale — and overcome its own challenges — was a key advantage for GO1, says Barnes, as it’s an “opportunity to have investors on board who can provide something more than money”.
Not a disruptor
GO1 has been named as one of the most disruptive companies in the world, but Barnes doesn’t necessarily identify with the label, saying it “has a lot of connotations”.
“I’m excited about what we’re doing and I think it’s unique,” he says. But that doesn’t make his startup a disruptor.
“Whenever someone thinks of something that’s a new idea, or provides some creativity, that’s exciting,” he adds.
In terms of advice for other entrepreneurs, disruptive or otherwise, Barnes says the main thing to focus on is what you’re trying to achieve, rather than how to get a cash injection.
“If you’re focused on building something that adds value, then raising capital is not necessarily going to be a barrier,” he says.
But doing things for the sake of raising money is “never going to work”.
Being a startup founder is an “exciting role”, Barnes says, “to be able to deliver something that people enjoy using on a regular basis … that needs to be what drives you”.
It’s also challenging, Barnes adds. This is the biggest company he has ever run, and he and his co-founders have “had to learn as we’ve grown”, he says.
With a company of 10 people, getting everyone together in one room to share updates is easy. When there are 100 people in different locations, it requires “different techniques”.
“That’s something that I’m still learning,” he says.
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