Grovo, which offers a video-training platform used by customers like Arizona State University and Chevron, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. When we wrote about the company back in 2011, it was trying to become "the field guide to the Internet," helping consumers understand how to use popular web services. CEO Jeff Fernandez (he's on the right side of the photo above, with his co-founders Surag Mungekar and Nick Narodny) told me that's still the mission, but now the company is less focused on attracting consumers directly and more on working with organizations to help their teams acquire digital skills. Grovo says it has built up a library of 5,000 videos covering 150 professional skills, which customers can then supplement with their own material. The heart of the company's approach is microlearning, with each of its videos lasting about 60 to 90 seconds. "Our videos were originally about five minutes in length, but we found that the shorter the video, the more likely people were to complete the videos and answer the quiz questions at the end," Fernandez said. He was eager to extol the virtues of microlearning during our interview, but when I suggested a more cynical interpretation — that many people just don't have the attention span for anything longer — Fernandez countered, "Well, you could call that cynical or you could say that you're a realist." The most popular topics among Grovo customers include what Fernandez called "the usual suspects," namely online tools like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote and Dropbox. Those are all pretty consumer-friendly products — does the Grovo approach work with meatier topics that can't be squeezed into a minute-long video? "I think it's all about how you lay out and structure the information," Fernandez said. "You can have a 10-minute video that has a lot of rich information, or you can structure the information in a very particular, deliberate way into 10 one-minute chunks." He suggested that this need for video-based, online workforce training is "adjacent" to the rise of online courses, a.k.a. MOOCs, rather than directly competitive. Aside from the organizations I mentioned up top, it seems that Grovo's customers include a lot of ad companies, such as DDB Worldwide, MediaMath, and Saatchi & Saatchi LA. The company also says that it quadrupled its headcount in the past year, from 25 to more than 100. The new funding was led by previous investor Accel Partners, with Accel's Sameer Gandhi joining the board of directors. Gandhi told me he looks at Grovo as a "consumerized" software-as-a-service business that can serve companies large and small. In fact, he said Accel itself is one of the smaller teams making use of Grovo courses. Gandhi added that Grovo is addressing "an acute market need," given the lack of digital skills in the U.S. workforce. "And you're not just trained once — it's a continuous process," he said. "For example, Slack didn't exist a few years ago." Grovo previously raised a $5.5 million Series A. Other investors in the new round include Costanoa Venture Capital, Greg Waldorf and SoftTech VC. And here's a short Grovo video about Grovo.
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