White Star Capital Backs Uvaro to Help Organisations Hire a Talented and Diverse Sales Workforce at Scale, Power Charging Upward Mobility in the Tech Industry and Empowering People to Unlock their Full Earning Potential
By Christophe Bourque, General Partner at White Star Capital & Sanjay Zimmermann, Principal at White Star Capital
A large portion of the 72 million millennials (age 22 to 37) in North America are working in service and retail jobs earning $30,000 or less per year with limited potential for upward mobility. Meanwhile, technology companies are growing at an unprecedented rate across the globe. It is estimated that 360,000 additional software sales roles will be needed over the next 10 years.
SaaS companies, in particular, are growing exponentially. For them, recruiting quality and velocity are becoming one of their biggest operational bottlenecks. Today, U.S. SaaS companies have over 24,000 open job positions and are projected to hire over 360,000 new SaaS sales employees over the next decade. Beyond SaaS, five million jobs in B2B sales will open over the same time period.
Evolving work aspirations
Escalating demand for talent is accompanied by a widespread desire for improved meaning and working conditions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. Resignations peaked in April and have remained abnormally high for the last several months, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July.
The phenomenon has since been described in the media as “The Great Resignation.” While the job market remains strong with a healthy number of openings, 40 percent of employed people are thinking about switching jobs in the next year. Work-life balance, upside potential, pay and fulfillment are some of the key reasons workers have been seeking professional change.
The COVID-19 pandemic further upended the job market in a way unseen since The Great Depression. In April 2020, more than 25 million Americans were laid off and economists estimated that more than 50 percent of Americans under the age of 45 had lost jobs, hours, or been furloughed. The U.S. unemployment rate reached 15 percent in March/April 2020, a record since the 1930s. Far from being a U.S.-centric phenomenon, this situation extended globally, with many countries being more severely impacted.
While the physical economy was abruptly put on hold, the technology sector flourished and propelled with it the broader stock market. Over 300 technology companies reached unicorn status in the last 12 months and funding, valuation, revenues and exits all topped record levels.
A society of lifelong learners
The upheaval in the job market is creating an increased need for career reskilling, although lifelong learning is nothing new. 73 percent of adults consider themselves lifelong learners and 63 percent of them have received training or taken courses in the past 12 months to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career advancement.
Despite the dire need for talent, there’s still a major education gap when it comes to producing skilled technology salespeople. The current academic infrastructure of traditional colleges is addressing less than 1 percent of the market needs and producing ill-prepared candidates for sales roles while leading to high levels of student debt.
At White Star Capital, we heard firsthand from our portfolio companies countless times that the best sales hires did not necessarily graduate from the finest schools. Instead, they possess a unique mix of skills that traditional programs fail to produce in a repeatable fashion. We also spoke to $100M+ ARR SaaS companies in the White Star Capital network. They confirmed this pain point: successful technology salespeople are hard to come by — yet less than two percent of schools offer sales education.
Enter Uvaro, a career success platform allowing individuals from all walks of life to transition to technology sales roles following a 12-week online curriculum.
The company was initially founded in 2020 by Joseph Fung, his sister Donna Litt and Derek Hall. The three founders have been working together since 2009, when Fung started TribeHR which was eventually bought by Oracle. The team witnessed first-hand the chronic pain experienced by tech companies to hire quality sales employees at scale and set itself on a mission to correct the industry’s fundamental flaws in regards to talent diversity.
Uvaro’s solution is specifically designed to help candidates with no or limited background in technology or sales master the skills needed to succeed. Beyond the training curriculum, members have access to career services and a highly active community of graduates, professionals, and guest speakers to provide mentorship and support professional advancement.
Uvaro has built a solid tech-enabled candidate sourcing and screening process and demonstrated impressive traction while maintaining an industry-leading NPS score of 93. The company already receives 40 percent more applications than America’s largest college for technology sales and has helped members get hired 5 times faster, ramp up 3 times faster, and exceed quotas in a sustained manner.
The tech sales training space is currently in formation. Given the nascent competitive landscape, we believe Uvaro can build on its current traction to emerge as the clear global leader, both from size and content leadership standpoints. While the sales role has evolved significantly over the past decade, the education system has not followed suit, opening an opportunity for Uvaro to be a relevant leader in this space.
Set in this context, we are pleased to announce that we have led Uvaro’s $12M (USD) Series A funding round. The funds will be used to rapidly scale up the company’s programming and deliver enhanced services for members aimed at creating ongoing career success. We are excited to partner with the team as they continue on their mission to accelerate the future of tech sales training.
White Star Capital is a global multi-stage technology investment platform that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, international businesses. Operating out of Guernsey, New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, our presence, perspective, and people enable us to partner closely with our Founders to help them scale internationally from Series A onwards.
Find out more about how we venture beyond at www.whitestarcapital.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.