Credly today announced the closing of a $2.5 million seed financing round led by University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners with participation from Lumina Foundation Venture Fund, the London-based City & Guilds Group and Lion Brothers Company. The investment is part of the first round of investments of City & Guilds Group’s New Venture Fund, and is the first-ever direct investment by Lumina Foundation.
Credly is the leading platform for managing, distributing and using digital credentials, which represent a range of verified skills, abilities and certifications. Today, thousands of educational institutions, companies, and professional associations use Credly to securely validate and acknowledge the competencies achieved by learners, employees, and members of their communities. Credly’s digital credentials put verified and portable evidence of achievement into the hands of those who earn them, empowering people to connect their talents and abilities to opportunities.
“The ‘Credential Revolution’ is underway,” said Ryan Craig, managing director of University Ventures. “Fueled by the proliferation of new education providers and the accessibility of unbundled programs, degrees are diminishing in importance as the default currency of the labor market, and universities and employers need the digital infrastructure to manage and recognize emerging digital credentials. We are delighted to be partnering with Credly to further its position as the leading digital credential service provider.”
A New Economy for Jobs
“Credly is building infrastructure that supports a rapidly expanding jobs economy in which credentials are the currency of choice,” said Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly. “We are thrilled to receive the support of leading investors in the education and workforce fields. We’re also honored to help inaugurate the Lumina Foundation and City & Guilds Group’s funds.”
Mark Grovic, Founder and General Partner of New Markets Ventures Partners, said, “There is increasing pressure on traditional and non-traditional education providers to more cost effectively help learners, job-seekers and employees acquire relevant skills, and we’ve long been looking for impactful companies that enable students to better communicate their specific value to employers. An enterprise platform for digital credentials provides that means and Credly is the clear leader in the space.”
“This is the first in a series of impact investments to spur social innovation in postsecondary learning,” said Kiko Suarez, vice president of Communications and Innovation at Lumina Foundation. “One of Lumina’s strategic focus areas includes the development and acceptance of digital credentials as a means to increase the attainment rate for America, and Credly’s leadership in digital credentials aligns well with the Foundation’s work in this space.”
John Yates, Director of the New Ventures Fund at the City & Guilds Group, explained, “Our Fund aims to support skills innovation across the world. It’s clear there’s a growing trend for innovation in skills recognition, as more and more people need to showcase their skills on digital platforms. Credly brings currency to the value created by education and training, helping individuals showcase their talents and abilities for career progression, while employers can discover potential employees who more accurately match the skills profile they are seeking. We’re delighted to be working with such an exciting, fast-moving organisation and contributing to its future growth.”
Suzy Ganz, CEO of Lion Brothers, the largest and longest-running manufacturer of embroidered patches and emblems for leading national and global brands, added, “Credentials and badges are central to how we communicate our identity as members of a community, team, association or profession. As our lives move online, so too must the essential symbols of our identities. Credly facilitates a seamless transition to that new reality with a reliable, enterprise-grade platform that’s accessible to all groups of people, however they associate.”
About University Ventures
University Ventures (UV) is the only investment firm focused exclusively on the global higher education sector. UV pursues a differentiated strategy of ‘innovation from within’. UV has the deepest respect for the missions and traditions of colleges and universities around the world and is confident that through innovation, these same institutions will be successful in fulfilling and expanding their missions. By partnering with top-tier universities and colleges and then strategically directing private capital to develop innovative programs of exceptional quality that address major economic and social needs, UV is setting new standards for student outcomes and advancing the development of the next generation of colleges and universities on a global scale. www.universityventures.com
About New Markets Venture Partners
New Markets Venture Partners is a venture capital firm that invests in and actively assists innovative education, information technology, and business services companies. The New Markets Team has decades of experience investing in and building high growth companies, maintains proprietary relationships with centers of innovation, and has particular domain expertise around technology and education. It prides itself on working to add value before, during and after the investment process.
About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an equitable, accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. www.luminafoundation.org
About the City & Guilds Group
The City & Guilds Group is a leader in global skills development, providing services to training providers, employers, and trainees across a variety of sectors to meet the needs of today’s workplace. The City & Guilds Group is made up of City & Guilds, ILM, City & Guilds Kineo and The Oxford Group. Combined, the City & Guilds Group operates in over 100 countries. The Group’s products and services are valued by employers across the world, and enable individuals develop their talents and abilities for career progression. Backed by a Royal Charter, the City & Guilds Group has over 135 years’ experience in making sure that people are prepared to contribute to successful businesses and thriving economies. www.cityandguildsgroup.com
About Lion Brothers Company
Founded in Baltimore in 1899, Lion Brothers Company Inc. is a world leader in apparel identity and badging systems for leading global brands and organizations. Wherever one goes throughout a day, Lion’s products appear as identification on fashion garments and uniforms. From your favorite professional NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball sports teams to brand identity for organizations including the Girl Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America, Lion designs and produces apparel identity and badging systems that create community, reward achievement and communicate brand values. Lion is a female-owned business today that serves customers throughout the world. www.lionbrothers.com
Credly is a leading digital credential service provider, helping the world recognize lifelong achievement with the most popular platforms for verifying, sharing and managing digital credentials and badges. The enterprise-class system allows organizations to officially verify skills and competencies; distribute portable and secure digital credentials and open badges; and gain actionable data and insights. Thousands of education institutions, industry associations, employers and workforce development programs use Credly to make achievements visible. www.credly.com