Miami startup Career Karma is upskilling workers — and uplifting communities along the way
By Riley Kaminer and Nancy Dahlberg / Refresh Miami
The jobs of the future will be digital. To a large extent, so are the jobs of today. But research from the nonprofit think tank RAND Corporation has found that many workers still lack even basic digital skills — much less the top technical skills needed for many of the most lucrative jobs. The World Economic Forum notes that more than half of all employees require significant reskilling.
In this challenge, Miamian Ruben Harris sees an opportunity: Upskill workers and unlock economic opportunities for all.
Harris is building Career Karma, a startup that enables users to transition into the tech industry. The platform, which is free for users, helps workers find a tech boot camp or education program that is right for them. It then provides support and guidance in the form of coaches, who are a mix of peers and mentors. Employers would support by offering Career Karma’s platform to employees looking to pick up a new skill.
“We work with forward-thinking employers that want to quickly level up their frontline workers into technology roles in their companies in less than a year,” Harris explained. He noted that offering education benefits will be as important for employers as other benefits employees expect, such as healthcare and a 401(k).
Miami will build the future of work
Miami is a particularly relevant place for Career Karma, in Harris’s estimation, given the high density of service jobs. When it comes to retaining employees, “service sector employers struggle the most,” asserted Harris. He explained how a Career Karma student’s pathway looks quite different. “Companies can level up their employees in a year and create growth paths, creating more job satisfaction and more retention.”
On the surface, the tangible benefits of a Career Karma transformation affect mostly the employee and the employer. But Harris has much broader aspirations: “My goal is to help a billion people in the next 10 years.”
How will he get there? City by city, starting in Miami, he hopes.
Harris expressed interest in working with the City of Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez, who is also President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
How can Mayor Suarez help? “Organize a roundtable with the top employers of frontline workers in Miami,” said Harris.
“The City of Miami can create an incentive for these employers and set a goal to have at least 10 companies that want to train 50 to 100 people locally into corporate jobs,” he continued. This kind of plan could upskill 1,000 employees. Multiply that across multiple cities, and it’s easy to see how the benefits of this initiative could quickly compound.
While Career Karma focuses mainly on non-degree programs such as online boot camps and other accelerated educational programs, Harris said that there are also synergies between the startup and universities. For instance, companies that support their employees through college can offer Career Karma’s services post-graduation to keep their workforce’s skills sharp.
Career Karma’s key success metric is whether they have connected people to the schools that get them a higher-skilled job, a promotion, or a lateral move with growth opportunity. A constellation of additional factors paints a broader picture of the startup’s impact, including student satisfaction, enrollment figures, and the number of raises its students secure.
Poised for growth
So far, Career Karma has raised $52 million of funding from institutional investors. This includes a $40 million Series B fundraise that Harris closed earlier this year.
Career Karma reports making more than 25,000 matches to job training programs each month. It has upwards of three million organic visitors to its website on top of thousands of users in its live audio rooms. Notably, the majority of the platform’s user base is people of color and women — addressing a major issue in the tech world.
“Now we’re focused heads down on making sure we serve our users well, that we expand into higher education, and that we take the time to get our enterprise business right,” he said.
Career Karma’s team is spread across 28 countries, with staff numbers in the hundreds. Harris and his cofounders, brothers Artur and Timur Meyster, moved to Miami this year. “We’re excited to grow in Miami because we feel that this is the most forward-thinking city in America right now — not just from a people perspective, but also from a government perspective,” Harris said.
Advice for job seekers
For people looking to take the first step toward the next chapter of their career, Harris suggests starting today. “Do something every day that makes progress in your life.” For instance, talk to people who work in your target career field, read and comment on relevant articles, and attend industry events.
If you’re looking to get a new job in tech, download Career Karma or go to CareerKarma.com/apply. Harris also suggests going to CareerKarma.com/events which are live audio rooms where you can listen to mentors who can give you guidance.
“We want to remove every barrier so that all you really need is the willpower and the desire to do something that will help you,” Harris said.
This is the second installment of our Opportunity Miami x Refresh Miami Startup Series on entrepreneurs addressing issues pivotal to our economic future.The first story in the series features Kind Designs here.