Sydney based experiential education technology startup Intersective has secured a Series A lead investment by Main Sequence Ventures, with further funding to close the round under negotiation. The investment was announced at yesterday’s launch of Main Sequence Ventures, manager of the CSIRO Innovation Fund by Senator the Honourable Michaelia Cash, Minister for Women and Employment, and CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall at innovation space Flux Spacecubed in Perth.
Co-founders Beau Leese, Wes Sonnenreich and Suzy Watson are veteran innovators and entrepreneurs who love tackling hard problems – like using technology to help people develop and evolve the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow – at massive scale. Their Practera platform provides the underlying toolkit for educators to manage a range of experiential learning programs like internships, cross-functional projects, accelerators, mentoring and skills micro-credentialing.
“We want Practera to be the world’s leading platform for experiential learning,” said Co-CEO Leese, formerly CSIRO Head of Strategy & Innovation before joining Intersective full time in 2015. “The changing future of work requires developing and evolving skills through practical experience. There are millions of programs globally designed to deliver that real world learning, however they have common scale, cost and measurement challenges, so many people miss out. Practera helps passionate educators make these programs far more accessible, efficient and effective. Our customers are using Practera to scale their existing programs, immediately seeing benefits.”
In Australia, the Practera software sits behind nationwide initiatives building innovation, Asia and STEM skills, linking tens of thousands of students from around half of Australian Universities with employers like the NSW and Victorian Governments, EY, IAG, Deloitte, Westpac and startups. Customers like Boston University, RMIT Vietnam and the Indian School of Careers have successfully adopted the product overseas. Intersective has won numerous awards, this year recognised as a Westpac Business of Tomorrow and an EY Accelerating Entrepreneurs Asia-Pacific winner.
“We’re going far beyond efficiency – we’re using data science to give educators actionable, real-time insights into a type of learning that has been previously difficult to measure,” said Co-CEO Wes Sonnenreich, an MIT educated computer scientist and former National Director of Innovation for Deloitte. “Intersective’s customers like the University of Sydney are already using Practera to deliver completely new types of experiential education like mentored business simulations that adapt based on real world feedback. In Main Sequence Ventures, Intersective found a partner willing to back our R&D in machine learning that accelerates skill development and increase engagement and satisfaction for all participants.”
The investment is the first time Intersective had sought expansion capital, having been revenue and grant-funded since inception. CFO Watson said “We’ve been fortunate to have visionary customers who’ve helped us be cashflow positive from day one and have been backed by some great programs like Jobs for NSW and the R&D tax incentive. We’ve worked hard to build a platform for sustainable growth – we tripled revenue over 12 months and we have built an awesome, diverse team of 23 in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Malaysia.”
As part of the deal, MSV Managing Partner Bill Bartee will be joining the Intersective Board. He said that “Intersective have already built an impressive business and team, solving real pain points for customers with a global potential market. They’re developing some deep technology in the application of artificial intelligence to enhance experiential learning and are actively building cross-sector collaboration at large scales here in Australia. Founders like Intersective, with great deep tech, outsized ambitions and a clear market are a great example of what Main Sequence Ventures is all about.”