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Talent platform Plum raises US$6 million

Waterloo-based talent platform Plum has raised US$6 million to help accelerate sales, marketing and product development.

While many tech companies are laying off staff to get through a prolonged downturn, other industries are struggling to hire and retain talent.

“There’s over 11 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. alone and there’s no sign of that slowing down,” said Plum CEO and co-founder Caitlin MacGregor. “Even though there may be this recession that companies are dealing with, established enterprise companies are making this well-overdue investment in how they manage their people.”

Launched in 2012, Plum uses data to help companies hire, retain and support staff throughout the full lifecycle of employment.

The company’s customer list includes numerous global enterprises, such as Scotiabank, Whirlpool and Hyundai. Plum says its annual recurring revenue has recently increased 100 per cent year over year, and its workforce has doubled in size over the past five years, rising to 34 full-time equivalents plus a number of contract, co-op and part-time employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in traditional workplace structures and attitudes, MacGregor said. Employees are now seeking more flexibility in terms of remote and hybrid work options, and they want more supportive and fulfilling work cultures.

“At Plum, we know that when people flourish, business thrives,” she said. “The market has caught up to a value proposition that we have been developing and perfecting and becoming a market leader in for years. So, it’s the convergence of where the market is at, and Plum being in the right place and the right time after very much establishing ourselves as the leading talent assessment platform.”

MacGregor described Plum’s latest investment as a “pre-Series A” round, although she said that “series” descriptors are losing their relevance because they vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including a company’s location.

 Plum previously raised approximately US$7 million in seed and seed-extension rounds.

The latest investment was led by Pearson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of global learning company Pearson. Other new investors include JFF Ventures and Strada Education Network. Existing investors Export Development Canada (EDC), Real Ventures, BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, EduLab Capital Partners and Impact Engine also participated.

“We are excited by the innovation that Plum is bringing to the talent management space, particularly their focus on connecting individuals to the right opportunities where they’ll thrive,” said Pedro Vasconcellos, Vice-President at Pearson Ventures. “We are pleased to support Plum on the next phase of their growth and look forward to exploring various collaboration opportunities with them.”

With traditional VC investment hard to come by in the current economic environment, Plum’s latest round is structured as a convertible note – a form of short-term debt that can be converted to equity through future financing rounds.

“It’s the best outcome in this climate,” MacGregor said, explaining that “strategic investors” like those involved in the current round are looking at a company’s long-term potential, not just a quick return.

Describing the round as a “massive win,” MacGregor said the capital enables Plum to pursue the growing demand for tech-assisted talent platforms.

She also gave a big shoutout to many in the tech community who have supported Plum in the past and who helped the company secure the latest round of investment.

Communitech, for example, invested in Plum in 2013 through the organization’s former Hyperdrive accelerator program. Janet Bannister, a partner at Real Ventures and a Communitech board member, played a key role in Real Ventures’ investment in the company, and she helped lay the groundwork for getting other investors on board for the latest round. 

“This round would not have happened if it wasn’t for Janet Bannister,” MacGregor said. “She has done so much for the tech community and for KW. This is an example of how it takes a village to keep the motor running that helps companies get to the next stage.”

 MacGregor also praised EDC and its investment matching program.

“EDC has funded a significant number of Communitech (member) companies,” she said. “It’s a huge lift – it’s not like a little impact on our companies, it’s a massive impact on our companies, and I don’t know if anybody is really giving them enough credit.”

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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