This NYC Startup Raised $40M to Make America Smart Again



Going into a new job there are often new things to learn that you may not have experience in. Not wanting to seem like you have no clue what you are doing, you want a resource that can educate you about your own job. Grovo has you covered. With microlearning readymade videos for you to absorb, you can avoid seeming like the “new guy who has no clue what’s flying”. With well-known companies such as Major League Baseball, SurveyMonkey and Capital One using the Grovo platform, there is no end in sight for how many more companies will improve thanks to them.

CEO Jeff Fernandez speaks with AlleyWatch about the future of workplace education, their recent funding and the one text that started it all…

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

Grovo raised $40 million in our Series C round, led by Accel, who has supported and believed in our vision since the very beginning. Accel also led our $15M Series B announced in Feb. 2015 and participated in Series A and Seed rounds. Other participants include Costanoa Venture Capital, SoftTechVC, and Greg Waldorf, and Vayner Capital.

Tell us about your product or service.

Grovo is a SaaS company reimagining learning for today’s workplace. We bring together behavioral science, technology, content, and service in one smart learning solution. By focusing on how and when learning happens in the workplace, we’re able to keep learners engaged and boost employee performance. The heart of our approach is microlearning – an instructional design method that matches how people engage with the world today. It pares content down to 90-second videos, quizzes, and materials covering everything from soft skills and digital skills to management training and HR topics.

Jeff Fernandez_CEO_Cofounder[1]

Jeff Fernandez

What inspired you to start the company?

As I mentioned in an earlier interview with AlleyWatch, Grovo was born out of a text I received during dinner with my friends, and soon-to-be co-founders, Surag Mungekar and Nick Narodny, back in 2010. It read, “How do I connect Google Analytics to my WordPress?” With this simple question, we realized there was no place to quickly learn all the new skills that our high-velocity world was throwing at us. Training methods were not only dull and ineffective; they just couldn’t keep up with the rapidly changing workplace, so we decided to deliver a better solution.

How is it different?

Grovo focuses on how and when learning happens, not just what information is being covered. We believe that when learning is done right – when it’s short, engaging, and available in the right place, at the right time – the effects are transformative for companies and their people.

In a world saturated with Facebook videos and Snapchat moments, old-school, long-form corporate training just doesn’t work. Businesses are looking for innovative learning solutions like Grovo to develop their next generation of leaders.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

The $130 billion corporate training industry has seen explosive growth in the last few years. In fact, total 2015 U.S. corporate training expenditure was approximately $70.6 billion, up 14% from 2014. Grovo’s own growth reflects that better learning in the workplace has never been more important, thanks to an influx of new technology, a highly competitive labor market, and an increasingly millennial workforce.

What’s your business model?

Grovo is an SaaS-based business selling to the enterprise. Our learning solution – platform, content, and service – is priced per seat across a few tiers that fit the needs of the majority of our customers. In addition to this out-of-the-box learning solution, we also offer custom content to many of our largest customers.

Now that you have entered a phase where you have raised a substantial amount of capital and are entering a more mature phase, how is your role changing from a strategic and management standpoint?

It’s really about balancing near-term execution with longer-term vision. We’re working to build out a phenomenal executive team to support rapid growth and innovation across departments. We’ve been very deliberate in the evolution of our culture as we expand, and internal learning initiatives are now taking center stage. These new initiatives have created a huge surge of enthusiasm and focus.

What was the funding process like?

The Accel team made the process go very smoothly. We have been working hard and executing against our model, and we’re fortunate to have great investors who demonstrate continued belief in our team and our vision.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

Getting married at the same time proved to be a challenge! Getting both done with just a few days in between was exhilarating.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Our investors recognized Grovo’s high-performing team, innovative product vision and strong business fundamentals.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’ll be investing deeply in our product, both on the content and technology sides of the business. Additionally, we plan to hire key executives to continue to drive the business forward, namely a CFO, VP of Marketing and VP of Product.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

The advice is the same to those who have recently raised capital. Invest capital wisely and efficiently.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

Our goal is to be the most innovative company in workplace learning. The added funding allows us to continue to drive the business forward by investing deeply in our product, thrilling our customers, and hiring a best in class executive team.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Tough call. It’s either Wolfgang’s on 33rd or Periyali. Wolfgang’s is right across the street from our office. If we’re celebrating something, that’s usually where you’ll find me. Periyali is quiet and the decor is like the Greek islands, where I recently spent my honeymoon.

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About the author: AlleyWatch

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