SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwired - Dec 13, 2013) - Koru (http://www.joinkoru.com/), an education startup focused on decreasing the staggering -- 44 percent -- underemployment rate among recent college graduates in the U.S., today announced $4.35 million in funding. Investors are Maveron, who led the round, Battery Ventures, First Round Capital and a16z seed as well as a small number of individual investors. Founded by veteran entrepreneurs Kristen Hamilton and Josh Jarrett, Koru will use the funds to create a significant online/offline business that will transform how college graduates prepare for success in the real world and make the leap from job seekers to impactful contributors at some of the country's most innovative and fastest growing companies.
Hamilton, who was a co-founder at Onvia and the former COO of World Learning, is CEO. Jarrett, most recently the Head of Higher Education Innovation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and formerly McKinsey & Co, is Koru's chief learning officer responsible for program development. Maveron partner Clayton Lewis has joined the Koru board of directors.
Koru is an immersive, experiential learning program designed to quickly create workplace-ready recent college graduates and place them in high-growth work environments. The company partners directly with actively hiring employers, and participants work and learn in the context of real-world challenges those employers provide. Koru's approach combines in-person instruction, professional mentorship, and online learning to teach job-specific skills and expose participants to the tools and techniques they need to be competitive in the modern workplace. Participants get direct access to staff, executives and hiring managers and develop professional connections at other organizations through guest speakers and instructors.
"The process of transitioning from college into the workforce is fundamentally broken," says Hamilton. "Graduates don't have a roadmap, and most have never even been in a working office. They are entering the job market without the context, specific skills and real word experience they need to get hired and put their degrees to work. From the employers' side it's just as bad: they have entry-level positions they struggle to fill with great people because they have no acceptable proxy measurement for quality in a hire without first hand experience. Meanwhile retention rates for millennials are dismal. At Koru, we believe there is a way to transform the college-to-career landscape and to fix this problem, for all involved."
"Koru eliminates the weighty experience gap that old-world institutions like internships and self-guided e-learning programs aren't able to fill," said Lewis of Maveron. "The company represents a new, evidence-based approach to helping college graduates succeed in today's knowledge economy and we feel privileged to invest in Kristen and Josh and in their vision for this next generation of corporate leaders."
Koru has run successful pilot programs with REI and Trupanion and will kick off 2014 with a Winter Break program at zulily, which has over 100 open positions to fill. Additional programs and partners will be announced early next year.
"Working at zulily is about rapid growth, a high level of responsibility and the willingness to try new things, and that includes how we get the best possible candidates in the door," said Colleen McKeown, senior vice president, human resources for zulily. "Our commitment to delivering an amazing customer experience every day requires that we hire the best people for specific jobs and that they are able to make an immediate impact, which is exactly why we're excited to partner with Koru."
For more information on Koru and details on upcoming programs, please visit www.joinkoru.com.
Education startup Koru is transforming the college-to-career landscape with an immersive, experiential learning program designed to quickly create and place workplace-ready recent college graduates inside high-growth work environments. Founded by veteran entrepreneurs Kristen Hamilton (founding partner at Onvia, COO at World Learning) and Josh Jarrett, (former head of Higher Ed Innovation for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and McKinsey & Co Consultant), Koru has raised $4.35 million in funding, led by the venture capital firm Maveron. Other participating investors include Battery Ventures, First Round Capital, a16z seed and a small number of individual investors. Headquartered in Seattle, Koru is currently running employer-embedded programs with partners like REI and zulily to give recent graduates the skills, experience and connections they need to get hired and make an immediate impact at leading companies. For more information on Koru and details on upcoming programs and partners, please visit www.joinkoru.com.
Maveron is a venture capital firm that exclusively invests in consumer companies. Founded in 1998 by Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz, the firm has offices in Seattle and San Francisco. Representative Maveron investments include eBay, Capella Education, General Assembly, Julep, Potbelly, Shutterfly, Trupanion and zulily. For more information about Maveron, visit http://www.maveron.com, follow on Twitter @maveron or connect on LinkedIn.