The Dutch online learning platform Studytube has recently received an investment of €10 million from Verdane, the Norwegian investment company that helps successful tech companies to grow further. This will give Verdane a substantial minority interest in Studytube. “With this investment and with our partnership with Verdane, we can realise our ambition to become a European top player in the Learning & Development market,” said Homam Karimi, CEO of Studytube.
How does it work?
Studytube provides companies and governments with an all-in-one learning platform. The technology enables organisations to create and distribute bespoke training content, and the accompanying proprietary online academy offers employees guided and inspirational access to a vast catalogue of third party training and educational programs (both offline and online). Build-in management tools smartly monitor employee development: what are relevant training courses for which employees; are they attending them, and have they obtained compulsory training certificates yet? The Studytube platform shares these insights instantly.
Studytube is not merely a smart SaaS platform, but functions as a training intermediary as well. As such it offers an inspiring search environment for (online) training, skill development and other educational offerings. Studytube has automated the entire procurement process with over 1.000 educational companies. This helps organisations to significantly reduce time spent on searching, booking, coordinating, invoicing and evaluating training and education. Organizations can save money as well, because Studytube realises purchasing discounts with all affiliated training providers, like LOI, NIMA, De Baak of VCA Nederland.
About €10 million in training was booked via the Studytube platform in 2020 alone, with customers receiving cumulatively more than 1 million euros in purchasing discounts. Studytube realised a turnover growth of 755 percent in the past 4 years. Over the past 3 years, the learning platform has consistently been in the top 20 of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 – the ranking of the 50 fastest-growing tech companies in the Netherlands. Currently, more than 200 organisations with a total of about 500,000 employees use Studytube. Customers include VolkerWessels, Manpower, ASR, Adecco, Port of Rotterdam, the Province of Gelderland and numerous municipalities, including the municipality of Groningen.
Expand and optimise further
Homam Karimi, Studytube CEO: “We would like to continue our exponential growth and we believe that the best product is the key. That is why we continue to invest in our people, further product development and we want to further expand and optimise the learning offer that we make available through Studytube for our customers. It is logical that we now bring Verdane on board as an investor, who invests in more than 40 tech companies, including a number of Human Capital Management software companies. We can learn a lot from that. In addition, we bring a wealthy partner on board with Verdane, which gives us access to subsequent investments for acquisitions, for example. Verdane is the ideal partner for us to realise our international ambition to become a top-3 player in the European market in the field of Learning & Development. ”
Iikka Moilanen, responsible for the investment in Studytube at Verdane: “Studytube has so far shown excellent growth figures in the Netherlands with innovative technology and a strong proposition. Since innovation is in Studytube’s DNA and the product is relatively easily scalable, we believe that we can continue these growth figures at the European level. More than ever, companies now need to keep up to date and the best way to do this is to invest in employee development. Studytube makes this much more efficient, easier and cheaper. ”
In this pandemic world, in-person meetings are a thing of the past. Most meetings these days are done via video conference, and no company has capitalized on the shift quite like Zoom.
Macro, a new FirstMark-backed company, is looking to capitalize on the capitalization. To Capitalism!
Sorry. Let’s get back on track. Macro is a native app that employs the Zoom SDK to add depth and analysis to your daily work meetings.
There are two modes. The first is essentially focused on collaboration, which turns the usual Zoom meeting into a light overlay, where folks are shown in small, circular bubbles at the top of the screen. This mode is to be used when folks are working on the same project, such as a wireframe or a collaborative document. The UI is meant to kind of fade into the background, allowing users to click on taps or objects behind other attendees’ bubbles.
The other mode is an Arena or Stadium mode, which is meant for hands-on meetings and presentations. It has two distinct features. The first is an Airtime feature, which shows how much different participants have ‘had the floor’ for the past five minutes, thirty minutes, or in total during the meeting. The second is a text-input system on the right side of the UI that lets people enter Questions, Takeaways, Action Items and Insights from the call.
Macro automatically adds that text to a Google Doc, and formats it into something instantly shareable.
There is no extra hassle involved in getting Macro up and running. When a user installs Macro on their computer, they’re instantly loaded into Macro each time they click a Zoom link, whether it’s in an email, a calendar invite, or in Slack.
Macro cofounders Ankith Harathi and John Keck explained to TechCrunch that this isn’t your usual enterprise play. The product is free to use and, with the Google Doc export, is still useful even as a single-player product. The Google Doc is auto-formatted with Macro messaging, explaining that it was compiled by the company with a link to the product.
In other words, Harathi and Keck want to see individuals within organizations get Macro for themselves and let the product grow organically within an organization, rather than trying to sell to large teams right off the bat.
“A lot of collaborative productivity SaaS applications need your whole team to switch over to get any value out of them,” said Harathi. “That’s a pretty big barrier, especially since so many new products are coming out and teams are constantly switching and that creates a lot of noise. So our plan was to ensure one person can use this and get value out of it, and nobody else is affected. They get the better interface and other team members will want to switch over without any requirement to do so.”
This is possible in large part to the cost of the Zoom SDK, which is $ 0. The heavy lifting of audio and video is handled by Zoom, as is the high compute cost. This means that Macro can offer its product for free at a relatively low cost to the company as it tries to grow.
Of course, there is some risk involved with building on an existing platform. Namely, one Zoom platform change could wreak havoc on Macro’s product or model. However, the team has plans to expand beyond Zoom to other video conferencing platforms like Google, BlueJeans, WebEx, etc. Roelof Botha told TechCrunch back in May that businesses built on other platforms have a much greater chance of success when there is platform across that sector, as there certainly is here.
Macro is also looking to add additional functionality to the platform, such as the ability to integrate an agenda into the meeting and break up the accompanying Google doc by agenda item.
The company has raised a total of $ 4.8 million since launch, including a new $ 4.3 million seed round from FirstMark Capital, General Catalyst and Underscore VC. Other investors include NextView Ventures, Jason Warner (CTO GitHub), Julie Zhuo (former VP Design Facebook), Harry Stebbings (Founder/Host of 20minVC), Adam Nash (Dropbox, Wealthfront, LinkedIn), Clark Valberg (CEO Invision), among others.
Macro has more than 25,000 users and has been a part of 50,000 meetings to date.
A study by the International Workplace group said that every week, 70% of employees are working at least one day a week somewhere other than the office. And with the pandemic where mostly everyone is work from home until further notice, working has become more flexible and dispersed, collaboration on projects becomes increasingly tricky. The timely delivery of a project on budget and having reached the end goal is threatened by poor communication.
Online chat services: A good solution?
Various online chat services and collaboration tools including Slack, Skype, Zendesk, Facebook Workplace and more have come to our rescue. Chat allows your organisation to work closer together and more effectively with other teams. Chat is intended for any communication, live Chat, sharing of files and voice and video calls. It creates a real-time in-person feel between team members and inspires collaborative conversations. However, there are many common challenges which come with chats like onboarding, data leaks, security etc. To overcome these issues, Amsterdam-based Open Social is trying to offer a community-based software platform for communication and collaboration.
Investment for Facebook Workplace competitor
And now recently the tech startup has raised €1.25 million investment from Amsterdam’s iconic VC, Peak Capital and Nimbus Ventures. Basically, Open Social is a B2B SaaS platform for building online communities. With the seed investment round, Open Social will further expand their team with top talent, develop exciting new technologies for their clients, and bring their innovative open-source online community software to organisations around the world.
How does it work?
Open Social provides an innovative online community platform for organisations that want to bring their members together online, whether it is to organise global volunteering efforts, share and generate new knowledge, drive crowd-innovation or collaborate using a digital co-working space.
Since its inception, Open Social has built award-winning online community platforms for some of the largest international organisations, including the United Nations and Greenpeace.
Impressed by commercial, open-source and technical capabilities
With the secured €1.25 million funding from Peak Capital and Nimbus Ventures, Open Social will further scale their services as an open-source SaaS-business to become a dominant player in the industry. “In 2020, we have seen a technological evolution that would normally take two years, happen in the span of just two months,” says Taco Potze, Founder and CEO at Open Social, “With increased decentralisation of organisations comes concerns over privacy and data ownership. In this new area, our vision for an open web that inspires trusted connections and collaboration is more relevant than ever.”
Peak Capital and Open Social built a strong relationship starting at a TNW Conference: “Open Social has shown strong product-market-fit with its external community solution for NGOs,” says Johan van Mil, Managing Partner at Peak Capital.
“With their open-source technology and extension strategy, they are able to tailor the platform to specific requirements of clients among different industries. We have been impressed by the commercial and technical capabilities of the team.”
Recruiting top talent to drive product innovation and enter new markets
Auke van den Hout, Managing partner at Nimbus Ventures emphasised: “The capability to service an international client base in Europe and the USA confirms the potential of Open Social.” With the investment, and the added-value of the new partnerships, Open Social will grow its core SaaS business and recruit top talent for its development team and senior positions such as a Head of Sales. This will allow Open Social to further develop their product offering, enter new markets in Europe and the USA, take customer success management to the next level and most importantly: drive its innovation roadmap.
Open Social is eager to benefit from the renowned insights and expertise of Peak Capital and Nimbus Ventures. Their guidance will ensure that Open Social grows and scales-up in a successful and sustainable manner. As Taco Potze says: “We feel very lucky to have found investors who share the same passion to deliver great products to clients, understand the drive, and ambition to discover new markets. The experience of these partners and their teams is of great value in our mission to become the world’s leading community-building platform.”
Welcome to this week’s Peer Support and Self Management Thread.
This is a Safe Place to Vent, Seek Emotional Support, Share Self Management Techniques and Experiences, or Just Rant.
The goal for this thread is to help one another manage mental and physical health so we can more easily find success.
We all struggle sometimes and it is important to recognize that the struggle is part of the journey. The important thing is to learn how to overcome that adversity to grow and succeed.
Be tactful and classy in how you vent your feelings and share your frustrations. Act in a mature manner.
Ask questions, share experiences, and be there for one another. Practice empathy in giving advice and remember that what worked for you isn’t guaranteed to work for others. Make suggestions, not demands of others.
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