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- Online credential marketplace gains traction
- Applications for enterprises and consumers
Credly, a New York City-based provider of online credentials, would consider adding further investors as it grows, said Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO.
There is no necessity to raise more capital “but everybody knows it is a nascent ecosystem we’re building. We may pursue more capital with existing or new investors if they bring something unique to the table beyond capital,” he said.
Already, he said, there is a group of investors expressing interest “when we’re at the right stage to work with them.”
The company enables individuals to earn portable verified records of their skills, knowledge and abilities in order to help organizations better understand the talent of their employees and their audience. The purposes are threefold: to engage employees, members of organizations or students by recognizing their skills; to help organizations market their brand; and to source and find the right people for the right tasks.
The company is creating a “competency marketplace” on the Internet called credly.com. It also operates Credly Enterprise, which provides a software as a service (SAAS)-based white label service for organizations to create their own branded experience. It serves universities, associations and employers. All three segments are equally represented and growing at about the same pace, he said.
Credly is able to capture training, credentials, achievements noted on performance reviews and other data. It can create credentials or “badges” to distribute to each person, enabling them to build a competency profile. Credly connects people to jobs, promotions and other opportunities. Finkelstein noted by way of example that an insurance company client uses Credly credentials as a prerequisite for promotions of its employees.
The company, founded in late 2012, has raised over USD 7m from five investors: it raised a seed round in March 2016 and did a follow-on round in August 2017. Prior to 2016, it relied on its own capital and revenue, he said. Finkelstein emphasized that the company was already generating revenue before it raised capital in 2016.
Credly decided to take outside capital in order to scale and accelerate its growth. He said the company has experienced significant year-over-year growth, doubling its revenue from 2016 to 2017. Since March 2016, the company has at least quadrupled in size.
“I like a nimble bootstrapped company but once you have a large number of customers, it’s nice to have more resources,” he said. Credly wants to grow its engineering and product team; business development, account management, marketing and sales and form technical partnerships with corporate HR systems.
Finkelstein’s prior company was LearningTimes, which is still operating.
When asked about his desired exit strategy for Credly, he said: “I never have exit goals. All have been evolutions one from the other.” He said the company is mission-driven and trying to build value. He pointed to the big skills gap as well as a gap in the communication of skills that people do have. “If you’re doing the right work, there are going to be opportunities.”
Credly doesn’t have direct competitors. Pearson Vue has a product that is similar called Acclaim. LinkedIn is regarded as a peer, but that company has a different business model. “We are focused on verified achievements,” he said. City & Guilds of London, a 140-year-old nonprofit, awards some 20 million credentials, he said.
Credly recently announced a partnership with the American Council on Education. When employees complete ACE-reviewed training, they receive a digital credential that can be used for college credit. The credits are accepted by thousands of colleges and can be shown to employers, not just schools.
The company is also looking at new ways to communicate achievements, such as badges and certificates. Some of these badges are capable of being scanned to reveal the data behind them. The company uses blockchain technology for all of its credentials. The company is also integrating the ability to apply for jobs with corporate recruiting systems.
The digital credentials create impressions when they are viewed online. Credly is analyzing who is viewing the employer’s brand around the credentials so customers can measure the impact. “It’s part of what the organizations get from subscribing to the platform,” he said, referring to the SaaS-based business.
Credly has 25 to 30 employees.
by Marlene Givant Star
Value GBP 5m (capital raised)
Stake Value N/A