Career Development Platform Upkey Closes $2.6 MM Seed Round, Signs Perdue and SNHU
By Henry Kronk
February 02, 2021
The Chicago startup Upkey announced on Febuary 2 that it had secured a seed funding round worth $2.6 million. The company contracts with companies and institutions to provide their members with career development resources and training. Along with the funding news, Upkey also took the opportunity to say it had signed three significant clients: Purdue University, Southern New Hampshire University, and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
Upkey has demonstrated its ability to do what many other career development providers cannot: gain usage among first-generation learners and students of color. The company also attracted attention last year with recognition as one of LinkedIn’s top startups.
In addition to the funding and new clients, Upkey also unveiled a new user dashboard today that allows learners to track their career progress.
Upkey Provides a Range of Career Development Resources, Training, and Opportunities, Delivered Remotely
The funding round was led by S3 Ventures and joined by Bronze Valley, Lofty Ventures, Tensility Venture Partners. Angel investor and Offers.com founder Steve Schaffer also contributed.
As part of the deal, S3 Ventures partner Charlie Plauche will join Upkey’s board of directors. “There has never been an effective and remote professional development service focused on assisting students from underrepresented communities and schools. The product’s viral growth in such a short time has highlighted a significant gap in the market. We are excited to partner with Upkey to fuel their next stage of growth,” Plauche said in a statement.
We were included in the "LinkedIn Top Startups 2020: The 50 U.S. companies on the rise" list!! 🎉🤩💪🏿💪🏾💪🏽
We are so proud to be able to keep growing despite the difficult times and be able to help more and more students with career development and hope! https://t.co/okg0SyuFnp
— Upkey (@Hello_Upkey) September 22, 2020
Upkey has designed its platform and services to be used by anyone from high school students to young professionals just starting their careers. The startup contracts with companies and institutions to offer its services at no cost to members themselves. Resources include modules to help young professionals build their resumes and prepare for interviews.
More recently, the company has begun to offer a virtual summer internship program. It is comprised of an eight-week course in which learners gain access to professionals to learn more about the work they do and complete projects that can count toward college credit.
Including those announced today, Upkey now counts 62 institutional partners.
Recent Growth and Strong Buy-In from First-Generation Learners
The company says that an incredible 70% of its users are both first generation and ‘minority’ students. Upkey has also demonstrated strong growth. In April of last year, the company announced it had served 15,000 learners in the previous six months.
In the current announcement, CEO and founder Amir Badr comments, “Over the past year, nearly 100,000 students have benefited from Upkey career preparation tools. Our mission is to level the playing field so that every student has the opportunity for support and training to reach their goals while giving organizations access to qualified candidates ready to take on new and varied challenges.”
Upkey says it plans to use the funding to scale services and open a second office in Austin, Texas.
Featured Image: Fineas Anton, Unsplash.