By Nancy Dahlberg
Teal, a digital platform that helps professionals manage their job searches, is defining a new category of technology focused on supporting people’s career growth. In the past year, the South Miami-based startup has grown its free membership platform and helped its users land dream jobs at companies like Google, Apple, TikTok and Spotify.
Today, Teal announced the closing of its $6.3 million seed round led by City Light Capital with participation from Rethink Education, Human Ventures, Gaingels, Miami-based Pareto Holdings, Basecamp Fund, Zelkova Ventures, and angel investors including Tom Willerer, the former CPO at Opendoor and Coursera. Previous investors Flybridge, Lerer Hippeau, and Oceans also participated in the round. Altogether, Teal has raised about $11.3 million in venture capital.
“In the future of work, the employee is the enterprise,” said David Fano, Teal’s CEO and founder. While companies have HR teams, recruiters, and sophisticated tech to seek out employees, most job seekers only use a rudimentary spreadsheet, Google and perhaps recommendations from family and friends, he added. “We’re leveling the playing field by building the infrastructure that helps people grow their careers with confidence.”
Founded in 2019, today Teal has helped more than 65,000 users – 20,000 of them in this year alone. Over the past year, Teal has grown its platform of free tools that empower people to grow their careers on their terms. These include a Job Tracker, a Contacts Tracker, a Work History app, a Resume Builder, accessible salary data, and a Chrome Extension for job recommendations. “Those are the ways we are equipping the consumer with data and insights so they can gain a little bit of that power back in this kind of lopsided process,” Fano said in an interview with Refresh Miami.
Teal has built algorithmic guidance right into the tools, like a digital career coach. “It’s that continuous voice helping jobseekers all throughout the disjointed process that is the job search,” he added.
With tens thousands of tech workers now facing layoffs in the current economic environment and also propelled by much more job shifting during the pandemic’s Great Resignation, Teal is ready to put the new funding to work.
The latest funding willpower the next phase of Teal’s business model, including building a recommendations engine that pairs people with the right ROI-oriented skills-based online courses aligned to their career goals, with affiliate partnerships currently in place with platforms like Coursera, General Assembly, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning. This effort is being led by the new Head of Growth, Yowana Wamala, who comes from NerdWallet, Credit Karma, and LendingTree.
“Teal is building the tools to help people navigate the future of work where career agility is more important than ever,” said Jeff Rinehart, Partner at City Light Capital and former CMO at 2U, in a statement. “We need a new category of technology that champions the candidate — not the company — empowering people to take control of their careers and develop the skills they need to excel long-term. Teal’s business model positions them to both do good and do well, and we couldn’t be more excited to back them at this pivotal moment.”
FANO’S MIAMI BOOMERANG STORY
Fano, Miami born and raised in Little Havana, the son of a Cuban immigrant father and a graduate of Palmetto High and FIU, left for New York in 2003 for Columbia grad school for architecture. He thought he’d never move back.
After grad school, Fano eventually started his own company, CASE, doing technology consulting and helping architecture and construction firms leverage tech to build better and faster, and drew WeWork as a client, back when they had only about eight locations. Long story short, “we grew very quickly with them. We consulted for three years, did a lot of the infrastructure for them and were basically embedded in the company. We grew to 63 employees, and then WeWork acquired us in 2015.” That acquisition process took a toll on the company’s culture. Fano stayed with WeWork, where he was overseeing the rollouts of WeWorks globally as Chief Growth Officer, until 2019.
Having worked as both a business owner and an employee, he was thinking a lot about how complicated careers can be and how there is a lot of bad advice out there. “I realized that there really is a lack of career infrastructure and resources for the modern professional that is truly their advocate. You can hire a career coach but they’re actually quite expensive. … I started to obsess on that problem,” Fano said in an interview last year with Refresh Miami.
So in 2019, he founded Teal, raised $5 million in initial funding in 2020, and after learning about the exciting #MiamiTech momentum during the pandemic, Fano moved back to his hometown from New York City in February 2021.
As a way to give back, last year Teal partnered with the City of Miami and a number of Miami sponsors to host its signature event, the three day Career Growth Summit. Speakers included Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of ‘the Happiness Project,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Keith Rabois of the Founders Fund, and dozens more from the Miami tech community and beyond. As a sort of reverse job fair, tech employers were also be involved in the summit.
Today in Miami, Fano is seeing more and more people wanting to transition into tech. This includes non-technical tech jobs such as marketing, operations, HR and customer service.
“We’re excited to grow in Miami. We just signed a lease in South Miami. We think there is a lot of incredible talent here and we’re excited to participate in any way we can to help grow the ecosystem. “
ADVICE TO TODAY’S JOB SEEKERS
What is Fano’s advice for job seekers navigating the recessionary economic times of today? “Go slow to go fast,” he said. “A lot of people feel like they have to do activity for the sake of activity. They just apply to a lot of jobs, make a ton of resumes. They present themselves as a jack of all trades and so they present a very confused and non-consistent version of themselves to the market.”
“Take a week to get clear,” he continued. “Prepare, document your achievements, make a great log of your work history. Get your LinkedIn really great. Talk to your mentors, be clear on the jobs you want to apply form, make sure you are qualified and then start doing the work. Focus on quality over quantity.”
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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