- Employees outside the C-suite can access a career coach through a startup called BetterUp.
- BetterUp just raised $103 million in Series C funding.
- CEO Alexi Robichaux said company leaders — and the startup community — are realizing how valuable career coaching can be.
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There was a time when career coaching was a perk limited to C-suite executives.
That left a whole bunch of ambitious professionals with nowhere to turn for advice on how to advance, improve their performance, or stay engaged at work.
In recent years, the startup community has infiltrated that untapped market: junior employees who would benefit from coaching, but can’t afford it on their own and can’t convince their companies to subsidize it.
One of the most successful examples is BetterUp, which connects workers at high-profile companies including Airbnb, LinkedIn, Lyft, and Instacart with trained coaches.
BetterUp just announced that it raised $103 million in a Series C fundraising round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Since launching in 2013, they’ve raised a total of over $142 million.
BetterUp’s clients are companies, not individual employees. Those organizations pay a monthly fee based on how many employees will use BetterUp’s services. Offerings include individual phone and video sessions with a coach, on-demand coaching (e.g., right before a meeting), plus training on lifestyle issues like sleep and nutrition.
“What’s really exciting,” cofounder and CEO Alexi Robichaux told Business Insider, is “this refocusing on talent as our greatest asset class.”
He cited the “great awakening” of the past five years, during which company leaders have realized that, with enough practice, people can improve and master skills like management. Venture capital has picked up on this trend and started investing their money in this growing space.
In a press release, Will Kohler, a partner at Lightspeed Ventures, said BetterUp’s “focus on driving change via human coaching — empowered and informed by technological tools — is the winning recipe for true, personalized human capital transformation and persistent behavior change.”
Read more: A former Facebook HR exec says don’t bother pretending everything is perfect at work — sometimes the best way to impress your boss is the exact opposite
BetterUp research finds employees who use the platform are more effective at work
Robichaux said he’s targeting three main areas of investment in the near future: expanding internationally, using artificial intelligence to provide better data on employee performance, and building out more interactive learning experiences.
In terms of interactive learning experiences, Robichaux said a coach might provide an employee with specific exercises to develop a certain skill.
Another new coaching startup is Bravely, which offers employees at companies like Zillow and Evernote personalized career coaching. Bravely, which launched in 2017, aggregates anonymized data from all the coaching calls and reports major trends back to the companies.
Interestingly, career-coaching trends mirror those in mental-health counseling. Apps like Talkspace now offer on-demand, virtual therapy, Business Insider’s Erin Brodwin reported.
BetterUp research found that members have experienced a 19% reduction in burnout, and employees who use the platform for at least three months are, on average, 26% more effective at work.
Robichaux summarized BetterUp’s angle this way: “We help people — both organizations and individuals — find success at the intersection of the company’s vision, mission, and priorities and the individual’s developmental needs, desires, and preferences.”
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