Sydney startup secures $1.3 million for edtech bridging the cloud skills gap

Saasguru

Saasguru co-founder and chief Amit Choudhary (centre) with chief product officer Prateek Kataria (left) and co-founder and COO Atif Saad (right). Source: supplied.

Six-month-old edtech saasguru has raised $1.3 million for its learning platform helping people prepare for professional cloud certifications, bridging “the only point of failure” in the cloud tech ecosystem.

The round is led by Aussie VC Square Peg Capital, and also includes backing from Black Nova.

Having previously built and sold a Salesforce consulting business SaaSfocus, co-founder and chief executive Amit Choudhary set out to solve a problem he had experienced first hand.

In the thriving cloud ecosystem, a shortage of skilled workers is “the only point of failure”, he tells SmartCompany.

For SaaSFocus, he started hiring new recruits and then training them to become skilled and billable consultants.

“We sort of developed a secret sauce in the process.”

Saasguru offers interactive and personalised support to help prepare learners for specific qualifications, in Salesforce or AWS cloud technologies, for example.

That includes an initial benchmarking exam, tools that adapt to the individual’s learning style and knowledge gaps, and a gamified platform showing how they stack up against their peers and offering challenges.

There is also a content element, whereby a network of more than 100 experienced ‘gurus’ share snippets of advice via short TikTok-style videos.

Once the learner’s dashboard is green, they’re ready to take their certification exam, Choudhary explains. For those that have used the platform for as little as two weeks, pass rates are currently at about 90%, he adds.

Saasguru’s early growth

In their first three months in business, the saasguru founders built an MVP and onboarded 2000 users.

Three months later the startup has more than 5000 users across 20 countries, with numbers growing by about 50%, month-on-month.

Square Peg principal investor Lucy Tan said, while it’s early days yet, “saasguru are proving that tailored, quality education delivered at scale, can transform a company’s ability to unlock the power of software”.

But revenues are coming in from both B2B and B2C customers. B2B clients are using the platform to upskill their new hires and existing employees, while individuals can use the tool either to break into tech or to upskill in their own time.

Ultimately Choudhary intends to launch a B2C subscription model, he says.

“Certification is not a one time need. An average professional probably takes two to three certification exams a year,” he explains.

Closing a critical skills gap

This early funding boost will be focused on improving the platform as much as possible, and on building out both the network of gurus and the certification programs the startup supports.

But the round is also about more than cash. Securing backing from Square Peg serves as a validation of the product and the team behind it, Choudhary says.

The Square Peg team has already been invaluable in providing support and contacts, and having one of the region’s biggest VCs on board lends a certain credibility to the business.

Of course, saasguru’s tech taps into the edtech trend — one of many themes to emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between remote working and learning, and a tech skills crisis, saasguru has arguably tapped into a real need in the market at exactly the right time.

Choudhary, however, wouldn’t necessarily agree.

“The time has been right for a few years now,” he says.

There are many examples of great businesses headed up by great people, which would be growing much more quickly if they could just get people with the right cloud skills on board.

Lack of talent is the “number one challenge for the industry,” Choudhary says.

“The convergence of cloud and edtech is probably the most compelling story right now.”

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