Verb, a management training platform, raised $6.4 million in seed funding from angel investors including Brett Hurt, Nav Sooch, Andy Roddick, Leon Chen and Barshop Ventures.
The Austin-based startup has transformed throughout its lifetime, according to its co-founder and CEO Suzi Sosa. When the company first started out, it led social innovation competitions for big brands like Dell, MetLife and IBM.
“For example, with MetLife we ran a global competition on financial inclusion,” Sosa told Built In. “With Dell we ran global competitions on education and empowering women. We were focused more on corporate social responsibility and employee volunteering.”
Employees from these client companies would be paired with competition applicants and be mentored as they put together a pitch deck. Sosa says the companies loved Verb’s mentoring platform so much that they wanted similar training for their employees internally.
“Millennial employees were aging into their first management positions, and companies needed better leadership training for them,” Sosa explained. “Companies have discovered that the thing that’s holding back employees are not their technical skills, but actually soft skills — their leadership skills.”
She continued, “We’re in a moment in time where even the understanding of soft skills is changing. Once upon a time, soft skills were giving and receiving feedback or setting goals. And now it’s things like mindfulness, self-awareness and unconscious bias.”
Verb uses a blended learning model to teach both traditional leadership skills and modern ones. Users learn through a series of “bite-size” micro-lessons and group learning classes. They’re also paired with a mentor to discuss and review their progress and set future goals.
Sosa says Verb’s current team is made up of about 30 entrepreneurs, educators and creatives. She anticipates ramping up its brand and product teams by about 50 percent in the next year to accelerate the development of the company’s B2B SaaS platform.