'A single destination cannot own all your knowledge'
Prosenjit Datta December 9, 2017
David Blake, chief executive of Degreed, says that in today's world, everyone is pretty well learning throughout their lives and at their jobs. But when you ask anyone about their education and learning, they still talk about the degree that they took years ago.
Five years ago, he set up Degreed to certify people learning and skills beyond their formal degrees. Degreed is an unusual educational start up in the sense that it does not create or sell its own content - though it uses AI to suggest content and courses you need to take in line with your interest areas. These could be articles, TED Talk videos, seminars or courses in a MOOCs platform.
David says that he has raised $40 million so far, and is going to raise another $40 million in his next round of funding. Degreed started off operations in the US but has since set up offices in Europe and another in India (in Bangalore). The Bangalore office is about 10 months old and David says it is growing fastest (though on a small base). His customers are primarily enterprises (he says mostly Fortune 200 and Fortune 500 companies) as well as organizations such as Nasscom. (He is in talks with them.)
For individuals, Degreed is free. You can keep track of your learning on Degreed by posting things you are reading, watching or conferences you are attending or lectures you are giving. However if you want a certification, you need to pay - or your employer does.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. So how does Degreed actually work?
A. The issue is that when you ask people about their education, they usually talk about their formal credentials. But we are in the knowledge economy where we are learning over the entirety of our lives and our goal is to make all learning matter. It is not replacing college degrees but opening up the concept to include our college degrees and everything we have learnt after that.
Q. You have companies as customers and then you have individuals?
But if the goal is to make all your education matter, it has to matter to employers or to universities. And we really believed it needed to matter to your employers if it needed to apply broadly across your whole career.
Academically, we are there three, four, six years but professionally we are there 30 or 40 years so we honed in our employment.
Q. How long have you been in India?
A. We have been here for 10 months or rather 9 months plus... There is significant traction in the market as far as Degreed in India is concerned. Predominantly the strategy has been enterprise though we are also looking at a lot of bodies or consortiums like Nasscom. We are working with all of them in tandem.
Q. You have raised about $40 million so far...
A. We have raised about that much to date and we will raise about that much more in our next financing. We are growing a 100 per cent each year in terms of revenues. Of course it started on a low denominator and it has been only 10 months but the growth rate in India has been even faster.
Q. When you say you certify the learning of an individual what is the process? Is there a test? As you said, people are learning from different sources... They might be taking a Coursera course or listening to a TED talk...
Q. You have operations in Europe as well. How is that growing?
Q. How does the revenue model work?
Q. What makes you different?