Online tech sales academy Uvaro has closed a US$12-million Series A round and plans to use the cash to grow its programming and member services.

The raise was led by White Star Capital with participation by BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, Amplify Capital and existing Uvaro investors Real Ventures, Waterloo-based Garage Capital, XFund, WTI and a number of executives from Oracle and Wave. 

“The tech sector is the fastest-growing segment of our economy and is expected to hire more than 250,000 individuals, with revenue-generating roles representing a significant proportion of this number,” said co-founder and CEO Joseph Fung. “With the shift to hybrid and remote work, every employer is now tech-enabled. As a result, demand for our grads is through the roof.”

Uvaro was launched in January 2020 by Fung, his sister Donna Litt and co-founder Derek Hall. The company, which provides online training and support for newcomers in the field of tech sales, evolved out of the trio’s previous venture – Kiite, a software platform that enables sales teams to capture and organize critical information needed to close deals.

Fung and his co-founders pivoted to online sales training following a deep dive into the data generated by their Kiite software, a research project supported by the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). 

Data in hand, the three co-founders spoke to their Kiite customers and discovered “a bigger skills gap in the marketplace than we anticipated,” Fung told Tech News.

 “We first launched a free training opportunity to our customers to help them grow and we were overwhelmed by the demand on both sides, the individuals and the businesses,” Fung said. “So, we launched Uvaro as an offering in January 2020.”

That was just when COVID-19 was sweeping across the globe. The pandemic has been devastating for many industries, but it has also accelerated the adoption of technology. Fung points to a 2020 study by market research firm Gartner that says 80 per cent of B2B sales will occur through digital channels by 2025.

“It was a difficult time to launch a business but the right time to launch this business,” he said. “This is the right time for people to make that (career) change and, frankly, a great time for a business like ours.”

Uvaro offers four- and 12-week tech sales training programs. It develops curriculum in consultation with industry partners, many of whom offer work experience to Uvaro students through apprenticeships, said Fung, a serial founder and graduate of the University of Waterloo’s computer engineering program.

Since launching online a year and a half ago, Uvaro’s sales academy has produced more than 300 graduates and boasts an 80 per cent job placement rate, the company said.

Uvaro employs 22 people. Fung said he expects that number to rise to 40 by the end of the year.

“We’re hiring aggressively in all functions – software development, curriculum development, sales, service, operations.”

 Uvaro said its training program is updated regularly to meet the needs of job-seekers and employers.

 “The COVID-19 crisis has forced the business world to shift to virtual collaboration and new communication tools,” said Christophe Bourque, General Partner with White Star Capital. “Uvaro’s unique, 3.0 training model fills a significant void in the market. For job seekers, it offers an affordable and achievable retraining option with direct pathways to tech employment. For employers, it helps unlock hidden talent pipelines that lead to highly effective, more inclusive workplaces.” 

Looking forward, Fung said Uvaro is focused on “delivering career success” and providing support at every step of a graduate’s career journey.

“We believe that for someone to evolve and see long-term success, they need a lifelong partner who’s there alongside them,” he said. “Our long-term vision really is that idea of helping them with their next step, being there when they have that moment of stress, that moment of doubt… being that support network we all wish we had.”