Propel, a Berlin-based HRtech startup specializing in a managed services platform for communities and talent, announced a successful fresh funding round of €2.5M.
With the newly secured funds, the german startup plans to expand its community platform, introduce additional tools to its value stack, and fortify its ecosystem of communities. To date, the company has raised over €3M and achieved recognition as a winner of the Google Black Founders Fund in Europe last summer.
Expressing her admiration for Propel’s inclusive approach to addressing the global skills shortage, Mariama Boumanjal, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Manager for Europe and Africa, states, “To ensure technology benefits everyone, it must be developed by everyone. Propel’s inspiring efforts in tackling this issue have earned our support through our program, and we eagerly anticipate their future endeavors.”
About the Investors
No Such Ventures, an Amsterdam-based firm, spearheaded the funding round. Joining them were APX (Axel Springer & Porsche), Golden Egg Check, and the Future of Learning Fund.
Expressing enthusiasm for the companies distinctive approach centered around communities to propel the open talent economy, Sophie Heijenberg, an investor at No Such Ventures, remarks, “Propel’s roadmap is impressive, and their commitment to the Future of Work category makes them stand out. We have high confidence in their growth journey and are thrilled to partner with them.”
Empowering the Open Talent Economy
Established in 2020 by Sunkanmi Ola, Seun Owolabi, and Abel Agoi, Propel provides innovative solutions tailored for tech talent communities, including developer groups, talent incubators, and training institutions. These communities can leverage Propel’s offerings to address critical last-mile challenges, such as facilitating connections to employment opportunities, financial services (such as loans and asset financing), and exclusive perks and rewards.
Propel offers a comprehensive “value stack” through a unified platform, enabling communities to enhance their support for members. With offices in Lisbon and Lagos, the company collaborates with over 100 tech communities across 15 countries, serving an extensive network of nearly 400,000 members.
Noteworthy partnerships within the Propel ecosystem include Niyo Network, a UK-based organization empowering underrepresented women through Web2 and Web3 bootcamps; SheCodeAfrica, one of Africa’s largest female-focused communities; Ingressive for Good, an inclusive community that annually trains thousands of individuals in tech; as well as others like Datafest, People In Product, Friends of Figma, and several Google Developer Groups.
The Propel ecosystem encompasses communities of diverse sizes, geographical locations, gender distributions, and tech stacks. According to Sunkanmi Ola, “Communities are the foundation of any ecosystem. Tech communities, especially in high-growth markets like Africa and within underrepresented groups, have emerged by the thousands to bridge gaps in education, capacity building, and inclusion.”
Ola continues, “These communities discover, upskill, and mentor talent, organize hackathons, events, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and respond swiftly to global trends, surpassing the capabilities of traditional institutions. However, they constantly seek solutions to address member challenges and achieve financial sustainability while striving to fulfill their impact goals. This is no small feat. Propel empowers communities by offering a plug-in platform that solves their last-mile hurdles, allowing them to focus on their core strengths.”
By enabling communities to expand and deepen local connections, Propel aims to make a tangible impact on the growth and development of millions of individuals on an unprecedented scale.
Business Model: Community-as-a-Service
Propel serves as a bridge between tech communities and a wide range of talent pools encompassing various skill sets, including software development, design, data science, no-code development, and other digital transformation expertise. In exchange for providing essential last-mile infrastructure, Propel grants access to this talent pipeline to multinational corporations through a unique framework called “Community as a Service.”
Collaborating with renowned organizations such as Porsche, Mercedes, Orange Telecoms, Farfetch, Stepstone, as well as startups and scaleups, especially in Europe, Propel offers a multitude of benefits. These collaborations involve talent acquisition, collaborative hackathon initiatives tailored to specific communities, and the development of projects focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Seun Owolabi emphasizes Propel’s commitment to fostering responsible and regenerative approaches to talent acquisition and pipeline development. Instead of relying on opportunistic practices like headhunting or poaching, Propel deeply engages with ecosystems, leveraging proprietary technology to identify the most exceptional talent within communities.
Owolabi further explains, “When we successfully place individuals in jobs, a portion of our revenue is shared with the respective community they belong to. This reinvestment supports programs and initiatives aimed at bringing more individuals into the tech industry.”
In essence, Propel acts as the go-to platform for ambitious companies seeking precisely tailored talent while actively contributing to solving technical challenges and making a positive impact.