Workera today announced $5 million in seed funding led by Owl Ventures and AI Fund, with participation from Plug and Play Ventures. The company is founded by Kian Katanforoosh, award-winning Stanford Computer Science Lecturer who has taught AI to over a million people and James Lee, former VP of Global Operations at Udacity, and its chairman of the board is Dr. Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera. Workera will use this investment to further extend its adaptive skills assessments platform that helps workers unlock their full potential in data science, machine learning, and other AI technologies.
“Today’s attention economy makes it nearly impossible to identify the right content to meet individual goals — the content is there, but it’s hard to know where to even start,” said Kian Katanforoosh, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Workera.
“We want to be the backbone for the learning economy, interpreting skills, understanding roles, and providing personalized mentorship at scale.” - Kian Katanforoosh, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Workera
One of the greatest challenges enterprises face in developing Data and AI capabilities is understanding which skills are essential and upskilling their workforce in those skills. Individuals face a similar challenge in understanding where they stand, what to study, and how to learn the skills that will best serve their careers. The World Economic Forum predicts upwards of 150 million new AI-related jobs will be created in the next two years, while only 300,000 AI professionals exist in the global workforce today.
To address this growing challenge, Katanforoosh and Lee took an inventive bottoms-up approach to assessing and benchmarking skills that directly maps to enterprise-wide development. Informed by their experience teaching AI to over a million individuals and upskilling 100+ Fortune 500 companies, the team devised a suite of computerized adaptive assessments to evaluate the more than 500 micro-skills needed to carry out the essential tasks that make up Data & AI projects. Technical employees use assessments in machine learning, data science, data analytics, and software engineering. Non-technical employees take data literacy assessments to enable a companywide culture of data fluency.
Workera’s adaptive assessments are used to generate personalized curricula from the ocean of content readily available across free and paid platforms, ranging from Arxiv to Github and more. Workera then guides the user to the most effective online course, video, research paper, or other materials, and further evolves the curriculum as the user’s skills develop.
100,000 assessments have been administered to individuals representing 1,000+ companies and universities. These benchmarks empower companies and their employees to index their technical proficiency against the general population, competitive businesses, and industry leaders like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
“Companies are investing billions to develop in-house talent in AI and other areas; measuring the impact of these investments is critically important,” said Andrew Ng, chairman of Workera.
“Workera’s platform allows companies to accurately make these measurements, and thereby prioritize the most impactful upskilling needs.” - Andrew Ng, chairman of Workera
Workera’s ambition to eliminate the AI & Data skills gap has garnered the backing of Owl Ventures, the largest venture capital fund in the world focused on the education technology market. “AI and data capabilities are a growing focus for companies across every industry, but the rapidly evolving skills required to build and maintain a successful AI and data team is a significant challenge for enterprises,” said Ian Chiu, Managing Director at Owl Ventures. “Workera’s assessment and upskilling platform is uniquely poised to help companies address this challenge. We are excited to partner with Andrew and AI Fund to back Kian, James and the entire Workera team who are globally recognized experts in the field of AI and data.”