Vancouver-based edtech startup Riipen, developer of a platform that enables students at post-secondary institutions to connect with real-world projects from companies, has raised $3.75 million in a pre-Series A funding round.
Investors participated in the round include Reach Capital, Strada Education Network, SEI Ventures, EduLab Capital Partners, Entangled Group, Atrium, and Arizona State University’s ScaleU. The latest round brings Riipen’s total funding to date to about $6 million.
Founded in 2015, Riipen enables transformative opportunities for companies to collaborate with post-secondary students on real-time, real-world challenges that are embedded directly into coursework. Its platform enables schools/universities to list the expertise and services students could provide, and companies to share the services or work they needed. The platform then pairs them up for projects, and students would end the project with a presentation of their findings and work to companies in exchange for course credit.
Riipen claims to have served more than 40,000 students at 150+ colleges and universities to do 1.5 million hours of applied learning with over 5,000 companies.
Speaking about the company and its mission, Dana Stephenson, Founder and CEO of Riipen, said,
“Project-based, real-world experience has a profound impact on students. But this kind of experience is out of reach for too many of them. To address this problem, we created Riipen to change the relationship between educational institutions and employers. Riipen is a powerful, proven platform that enables companies to rapidly identify and recruit students to work on projects. Working with Riipen, educational institutions can better serve students by getting them the experience that they need now.”
Riipen aims to help students of all backgrounds and geographies to boost their skills, gain career clarity, network, and find jobs they love. At the same time, the company aims to address youth unemployment and graduate underemployment by connecting students with companies to eliminate the skills and experience gap between graduates’ abilities and the needs of the businesses. Riipen plans to use the newly raised funds to diversify its offering to reach more students, and to expand its operations to other markets.
Commenting on the investment, Shauntel Garvey, General Partner at Reach Capital, said,
“Given rising levels of underemployment and a widening skills gap, we are focused on solutions that help learners develop in-demand skills. We backed Riipen because their experiential learning marketplace allows students to meaningfully engage with employers on relevant projects and enables employers to attract new talent that may have previously been overlooked.”
Riipen’s platform is used by a number of institutions, including University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, and Concordia University, to name just a few. And, employers from IBM to the YMCA of South Hampton Roads have also used the platform to conduct research on emerging markets, build their talent pipelines, and strengthen their brands among students and young professionals. Currently, Riipen has its offices in Vancouver and Toronto, and is reportedly planning to open one in the US in 2020.