Australian EdTech firm Go1 was founded in 2015 by four school friends – CEO Andrew Barnes, CTO Chris Hood, CRO Chris Eigeland and chief evangelist Vu Tran – all with different backgrounds. Eigeland is a trained lawyer, Tran is a doctor, Hood is a software engineer and Barnes is an economist.
For Eigeland, his journey into the learning space, and to Go1, started in 2011 when, as a law graduate, he was working in Haiti after the earthquake with United Nations (UN) organizations who were trying to “rebuild supply chains for training materials for schools”.
He tells UNLEASH how this led him into other roles at the UN, including as a National Commissioner for UNESCO in Paris, around education and innovation in the space.
Back in Australia, Eigeland and his co-founders decided that there was a need to bring together all their expertise to fix the professional education space.
Go1 and the L&D space
They wanted to solve a few problems in the learning and development (L&D) space, explains Eigeland.
The first is “the discovery problem”; “it is really hard, even today, to find the best piece of learning or training for you based on where you are at in your career, your location or industry”. The second problem was accessibility and procurement; “how do you bring together all the best-in-class content creators around the world and simplify the sourcing” for organizations and individuals?
Go1 aims to solve these challenges in the L&D space with its Netflix model. “We don’t create any content ourselves; we aggregate it together and then surface that out to wherever the professional learners are”, notes Eigeland.
In addition, rather than competing with the likes of Degreed and Skillsoft, Go1 sees them as partners. It helps companies like Skillsoft get their content out to new audiences, and it provides content to the likes of Degreed.
Eigeland notes that its relationship with Degreed is like files and a filing cabinet; “we provide all the files for the filing cabinet, which is a system like Degreed”.
Fast forward six years from its founding, and Go1’s learning model has evidently gained traction as the company is now a HR tech unicorn following a $200 million Series D round. It has also helped millions of learners in thousands of organizations, like TikTok, Hays and Delta Airlines, to access top-quality learning content.
Go1 as a unicorn
Eigeland explains that Go1 “didn’t set out to raise a significant amount of capital” during the summer.
He notes that over the past six years, Go1 has been “lucky” to have been backed by big players like Microsoft, Salesforce and SEEK, an Australian recruitment and training firm.
“We’ve been working over the last couple of years with their assistance to build out [our] learning in the flow of work focus”, including by looking at how you can provide content through systems like Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Workday and SAP.
“We still had cash in the bank from a previous raise”, notes Eigeland, but investors started to realize that the progress Go1 had made to date is “just the beginning” and its business model has a lot of potential in the future of work.
In a release, Go1 CEO Barnes wrote: “As society transitions out of the pandemic, ensuring that employees have opportunities to explore learning and development resources will be essential for team retention and encouraging employee growth within the organization.”
The round was led by new investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2, as well as AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures.
Talking about the round, Salesforce Centures head of Australia Rob Keith noted: “Go1 is well positioned to support learners and companies to develop the skills needed for today’s digital economy, with international growth and product innovation increasing the breadth and depth of its offering.”
The future for Go1
Go1 is using the funding to continue to drive more partnerships and integrations and expand its product offerings.
The company wants to make sure it is “at the forefront of making training really accessible and convenient for people”, notes Eigeland.
The funding will also help Go1 grow its physical presence globally, feeding into its desire to “unlock positive potential” from learning and to make it accessible to all.
Eigeland notes that the Series D funding will also help Go1 expand its “network of content creators”, particularly in new languages.
Currently, Go1 primarily operates in English-speaking geographies like North America, the UK, Australia and New Zeeland. But this funding “will help us move into South East Asia” for instance, explains Eigeland. Go1 has already begun this work by partnering with the Malaysian Government to provide free and accessible skilling pathways for those who had been furloughed in the country.
This all feeds into Go1’s mission to reach “as many as learners as possible” by “adding value to their learning journey as much as we can”.
Therefore, for Eigeland there are no plans for a SPAC or an IPO at the moment. “The exit event is not important to us, [it is about] the reach and scale” of the offering.
The company hopes to be at the forefront of the next disruption of learning, which Eigeland believes will be dominated by “personalization” and new mediums. “One size fits all is not the right approach for online training”, notes Eigeland. “Podcasts have exploded; audio is having a bit of a renaissance”.
This will be the top of Go1’s mind as it continues to innovate in the future.