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Female co-founded Skiller Whale scoops $2.9M to help businesses upskill workers

Skiller Whale
Image credits: Skiller Whale

Currently, employers are facing a massive skill shortage globally that could hold back the economic promise of innovative technologies. In addition to that, digital innovations will alter the demand for skills in the future. 

As a result, it is crucial for business leaders to rethink how to prepare their workforces from learning skills their organisation will need and to help them apply acquired skills throughout their careers.

However, the execution part is a problem that has been hard to solve. This is because traditional models of training are maladapted to the needs of tech companies.

According to Axonify’s State of Workplace Training study, 85% of learners want training to be flexible on time and location, and even more, 90% want it to be personalised.

Meet Skiller Whale!

Here’s where Skiller Whale, a London-based company tries to fill the gap. The UK company is taking a new approach to train that is designed for learning during employment, effectively. 

To scale up their on-job learning offering, the company raised $2.9M funding in a Seed round led by Brighteye Ventures, along with a group of VCs and angel investors, including Playfair and RLC.

Bad software is death knell..!

Founded by Hywel Carver, Hayley, and Dave Millican in 2018, Skiller Whale is an online live training platform that offers hands-on micro-coaching for developers, with topics targeted at individuals’ skill gaps. 

According to the company, bad software can be the death knell of startups before they even get off the ground, and the quality of the software is only as good as the team building it. 

Hywel Carver, Co-Founder, and CEO says: “In founding Skiller Whale, I wanted to offer CTOs a real alternative to hiring for skill gaps. This means the kind of learning that has a ~100% completion rate, gives people immediately usable skills, and guarantees that nobody wastes a single hour learning something they already know.”

With a team of 11 people based in 6 countries, the company has been a remote-first organisation from the outset. 

How does it work?

As per the founders, and CTOs, four things need to be true for tech training to work when upskilling experienced developer teams – Personalisation, hands-on, challenge, and sustainability.

Each team member gets a personalised learning plan, based on skill and gap analysis and priorities. The company measures the impact of training through learner feedback, manager feedback, and code metrics. 

Tech they teach

Skiller Whale currently offers languages, runtimes, libraries, DevOps technologies, and tools.

  • Language and libraries: Python, Go, Javascript, Rust, Java, C#, Ruby, SQL, Typescript, React, React Native, and PostgreSQL. 
  • Tools: Kubernetes, Docker, Git, Terraform, AWS.

Business model

The UK company earns revenue wholly through the subscriptions package. At present, Skiller Whale offers three packages:

  • Up to 20 developers – £200/dev/month (£50 per credit)
  • 21-40 developers – £180/dev/month (£45 per credit)
  • 41+ developers – £150/dev/month (£37.50 per credit)

Skiller Whale says credits are transferrable from one person to another and rollover from month to month.

Investors

Brighteye is an edtech venture capital fund in Europe leveraging deep experience and relationships in tech, education, media, and VC. 

The company focuses on startups at the intersection of learning, entertainment, and creativity to empower and expand the frontiers of human potential. 

Benoit Wirz, Partner at Brighteye Ventures says: “The extraordinary pace of growth in tech means that developers need to constantly upskill to keep up, even while juggling ever-expanding demand for their time — a challenge that will only become more acute in the coming years. We are impressed by the Skiller Whale founders who have experienced this problem first-hand and have built a personalised solution for developers to learn efficiently, and for companies to enhance their team capabilities reliably and at scale.”

Playfair Capital is an early-stage fund that takes a sector-agnostic approach and invests in deep tech, SaaS, marketplaces, and B2B companies. Based out of London, the founders have backed more than 70 companies including Mapillary, CryptoFacilities, Omnipresent, Orca AI, and more.

Joe Thornton, Partner at Playfair Capital said: “The current pace of change in our digital economy, coupled with the sudden shift to hybrid work environments, is putting tech leaders under increasing pressure to offer better ways of upskilling their engineering talent. Unlike the passive approach taken by existing solutions, SkillerWhale offers a far more personalised and engaging experience to its learners, resulting in clearly superior outcomes.”

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