Triple Threat: Serial Entrepreneur David Blake

Thea Knobel
Dec 17, 2020 · 4 min read

GSV Ventures backs David Blake’s startups: Degreed, Learn In, & BookClub.

David Blake Co-Founder of Degreed, LearnIn, & Bookclub.

David Blake has always been a star student. However, when he sat down to take the ACT he began questioning the education system. He wondered why this one test held such importance for where you would go to school and ultimately which job you may get, given that the information on the test had little to do with real life skills. Blake realized he was a good student, but a terrible learner. From there on out his mission was to “jail break the degree” and focus on Lifelong Learning.

“When someone asks you about your education why do you say where you went to university? If someone asked you about your health you wouldn’t say you ran a marathon 13 years ago,” said Blake.

In 2012, David Blake went on to co-found Degreed, an enterprise learning and skills mapping platform. He met GSV Managing Partner, Deborah Quazzo, during his seed round and explained his vision for Degreed. After one meeting she wrote Blake a check and went on to become a member of the Board. Today Degreed helps over 6 million people at hundreds of the world’s top organizations including HP, Cisco, and Intel. It has now raised over $207 million dollars.

While Blake continues to serve as Executive Chairman at Degreed, he is now at work on more big ideas sharing his time between Learn In & BookClub. On balancing his time between running two startups concurrently, Blake says his secret sauce is to “hire great people and get them in the right seats.” The great people he surrounds himself with include his longtime partner and Co-Founder and CTO for Degreed, BookClub, and Learn In Eric Sharp. Other Co-Founders include Yael Kauffman COO of Learn In and Taylor Blake CPO of Learn In; Emily Campbell CPO of BookClub.

Here’s how both of David’s new startups are transforming the future of EdTech & Work:

BookClub

BookClub is a platform where authors host virtual book clubs themselves through high quality, short form videos. BookClub is on a mission to democratize access to the wealth of knowledge authors hold as subject matter experts. With BookClub, consumers gain access to social community groups focused on their shared interests, author-as-an expert led content, and curated book suggestions.

Members of BookClub are guided through their favorite books with world renowned authors. They can watch cinematic interviews, engage in video Q&A, and meet the author live through group discussions.

“People learn 6.5X more from books than they do from any other source. You will learn more in your lifetime from authors than you will from teachers,” explained Blake.

While book-based platforms exist, BookClub is the first to bring together discovery, asynchronous and synchronous Q&A with authors, and discussion zones into one highly engaging platform. BookClub capitalizes on one of the major trends GSV identified in EdTech, Hollywood Meets Harvard. Education is melding with entertainment where education is augmented by engaging and entertaining experiences. Now readers can learn and interact with their favorite authors through best-in-class video content.

Celebrity authors on the platform are yet to be revealed. You can join the waitlist here.

Learn In

Learn In is providing employees with the resources to learn new skills and the time to actually do it. The platform helps organizations “future proof” business so they can retain employees with the skills to get the job done. Learn In’s software easily plugs into a company’s existing HR software, enabling companies to figure out how to finance and allocate time for employee up skilling and training.

Step by step features that show how the Learn In platform works.

“We are seeing major dollars committed towards up skilling initiatives across corporations but none of them have committed time … In a world where Corporate L&D is going to be the biggest engine of Lifelong Learning, getting that right is critically important and getting that wrong will have far reaching consequences,” said Blake.

Learn In fits with GSV’s thesis of Lifelong Learning. As technology advances, many jobs are completely evolving to the point where original job descriptions barely resemble the current role. Formal degrees and on-boarding training are not sufficient to meet the shifting demands of a role as organizations grow. Learn In is providing employees opportunities to continually grow in their jobs by up skilling to meet the needs of their evolving role. It’s a win-win situation for both employees and employers. The ROI tracker provides employers with data on how much they’ve saved on investing in helping existing staff develop new skills, versus making new hires.

David Blake & GSV

David Blake has long been a part of the GSV family. After GSV invested in him 3 times, he became an Advisor to the fund. He joins the ranks of GSV Advisors including Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Former Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Mike Smith, and CEO of DreamBox Learning Jessie Woolley-Wilson.

Now Blake is expanding his team to execute on his mission of Lifelong Learning. BookClub, Learn In, and Degreed are hiring.