Cultivate raises $8 million Series A to scale AI-driven leadership coaching in the enterprise.

Portions of this post were originally posted here, by Megan Hernbroth at Business Insider

The Summary Funding Announcement

Cultivate, a digital leadership coaching platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide in-the-moment feedback and management coaching within the enterprise, today announced an $8 million Series A investment to grow its go-to-market team and product offerings. Trinity Ventures led the Series A round with participation from previous investors Bloomberg Beta, Silicon Valley Data Capital and SAP.iO. Karan Mehandru from Trinity Ventures will be joining the Cultivate board of directors. Cultivate has raised a total of $10 million since the company exited from a Samsung NEXT accelerator program in the summer of 2018.

The Problem of Scaling Change

According to a 2018 People Management study by The Predictive Index of over 5,000 employees, 77% of respondents who rated their bosses as “bad managers” intended to leave their company in the next 12 months. With 2 million employees leaving their jobs monthly, turnover is costing businesses $11 billion annually. While the problem of poor managers impacting the employee experience is well-defined, no scalable and cost-effective solutions are available to global enterprises seeking to up-level their leaders’ management skills.

“Companies are really good at measuring and reporting,” Cultivate cofounder and CEO Joseph Freed told Business Insider. “They can collect a lot of data from surveys and make reports for leadership teams, but what they are not very good at is change.”

How Cultivate Is Changing the Game

Cultivate aims to address this leadership development gap by leveraging unstructured communication data passively, rather than traditional surveys which require self-reporting, to empower individual managers with insights on their own behaviors and easy-to-execute actions to improve their workplace relationships. Cultivate reviews a manager’s own digital communication data — through channels such as Office 365, Google Suite, Teams and Slack — to deliver feedback and coaching directly to managers who have opted-into the service. As Cultivate learns a manager’s communication patterns, it nudges them to focus on developmental areas related to leadership and soft skills. This is feedback is private for the manager, as the company leadership does not have access to a manager’s personal data.

“Cultivate came from my own need as a people leader. I wanted to understand if I was treating people differently and not aware of it,” said Freed in Cultivate’s funding press release. “I found that today’s forms of active feedback like pulse surveys or 360s did not provide me the level of self-awareness I needed to impact any meaningful change. Given that a large portion of my relationships at work are digital, I wanted an AI tool that worked for me, parsing data to give me insights into how I communicate as a leader and where I can improve.”

The onus to improve is on the manager, which Trinity Ventures general partner Karan Mehandru sees as a positive as more millennials take up managerial roles. “For the first time I can remember, we see a massive portion of those jobs being filled by people who have not held them before,” Mehandru told Business Insider. “They have never been trained to be an effective manager, let alone an effective manager of a whole distributed team. There is a desire and a need from the millennials storming the workforce to learn, and a massive amount of activity is coming from them asking for the tools to do their jobs.”

How Cultivate Helps the Enterprise

Cultivate is currently being used by some of the world’s largest enterprises, including SAP, which has deployed it to more than 500 managers. “Cultivate helped SAP North America HR dramatically rethink how we can better coach our leaders at scale. As a people leader myself, Cultivate gives me personal and objective feedback that I can’t get from traditional forms of self-reporting,” said Dan Healey, SVP and Head of HR for SAP North America in Cultivate’s funding press release. “At SAP, people are at the center of everything we do. Cultivate is helping us develop tomorrow’s leaders to be empathetic, inclusive and responsive.”

By decentralizing people analytics and empowering individual managers, Cultivate can scale infinitely to help people managers take their leadership skills to the next level, thus help enterprises change.

“Great companies large and small know that their most precious differentiator is their people. It is therefore not surprising that leading enterprises are investing in employee coaching and leadership development in order to maintain their edge in the fierce global war for talent,” said Mehandru.


About Cultivate

Cultivate’s mission is to help companies transform their next-generation leaders with data. Without surveys or user input, Cultivate turns a manager’s digital communication data into actionable leadership insight. Cultivate’s AI-driven coaching platform provides real-time feedback and recommendations to empower managers to improve leadership skills and strengthen workplace relationships in the digital age. Cultivate works with global Fortune 500 enterprises and has received $10 million in investment by leading venture capital investors focused on the future of work, such as Trinity Ventures and Bloomberg Beta. For more information, visit https://trycultivate.com.

Original story is posted in Business Insider.