Handshake's Series B: More Funding, More Partners, More Opportunity

Posted Nov 17, 2016 by Garrett Lord

Today, I’m very excited to welcome a new partner to Handshake! Spark Capital is leading our $20m Series B investment, with all current investors participating, and Megan Quinn is joining our board. We’re particularly excited for Megan and her Spark partners to join the Handshake team because of their deep commitment to our mission to democratize opportunity.

At Handshake, we know from experience that talent is spread evenly, but opportunity is not.

My co-founders, Scott, Ben and I all attended Michigan Tech in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s beautiful but remote – an 8-hour drive from Chicago or Detroit – and spends months of the year under 200 inches of snow. When I attended, few big tech companies made the trip to campus.

img Michigan Tech on the day of the 2013 spring career fair

I got a little lucky; a professor made a referral that opened my eyes to different possibilities. I took advantage of that opportunity and hustled nonstop – driving through the night to attend niche tech conferences and writing handwritten notes to recruiters – to land a great internship at Palantir. I then brokered intros for my top classmates to leading tech companies like Facebook, Dropbox and Palantir, who weren’t recruiting at Michigan Tech, earning $60k in referral bonuses.

It worked out for me and some friends, but it shouldn’t have to be that hard. More and more students are going to college, but many graduate un- or under-employed, burdened by tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. This is particularly true if you don’t live in a major economic hub, don’t attend a school with a strong brand name and billion-dollar endowment, don’t have a strong family network, or come from an underrepresented minority background.

Our best talent is often overlooked.

It’s not that companies don’t want to find them. Employers are looking to hire millions of students every year. Most desperately want to diversify away from their traditional schools, but struggle to efficiently source from multiple schools or easily assess who has the right skills, given students’ limited experience. At the same time, most universities aren’t blessed with the resources to help all of their students, or the data and tools to demonstrate how they’re helping students build their careers.

We’re working to fix this. Handshake wants to help every student build a meaningful career, no matter where they come from, where they go to school, what they’re majoring in, or who they know.

We’ve made solid progress. We’ve grown from five universities two years ago to 170 today, and expect to add another 200 to the network next year. We power schools of all shapes, sizes and locations, including Stanford, Princeton, Michigan, Texas, Colorado State, DePaul, UC-Berkeley, UVA, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Morehouse, Spelman, Harvey Mudd, Georgia, Wake Forest, and many others.

Working closely with our career center partners, we’ve added 3 million students and 100,000 companies, nonprofits and other employers — including 95% of the Fortune 500 — to the Handshake network. We’re already seeing evidence that our network helps spread opportunity more evenly:

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  • Students now have access to 2–3x more jobs per school, across the country, in any industry, with smart tools that help match their interests to the best jobs and internships.
  • Students are engaging 50% more with campus career centers — creating richer profiles that help employers find them, attending more career-focused events, and searching for, applying to, and getting more jobs.
  • University career centers now have the data and tools to figure out how to help their students, and to report internally and externally about the positive impact they’re having.

So far, we’ve been lucky enough to work with an incredible group, particularly our 170 university partners, and investors including Eric Feng at Kleiner Perkins, Toni Schneider at True, Bob Mylod at Annox, and the teams at Lightspeed, Lowercase, and many others. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the passionate, talented, committed team at Handshake, who built this company up from a germ of an idea.

But we’re only starting out. Adding Spark to the team will help us do more, faster. In fact, before we even signed a term sheet, Megan was working hard, sending us long lists of exceptional, diverse candidates for important roles at Handshake.

The Series B funds will help us put those referrals to work. Over the next two years, we will build out new tools for career centers and employers, and accelerate our vision for helping students. We want to arm students with the data, content and communities they need to build a meaningful career, particularly through better mobile products and innovative ways to use data to help make career decisions.

While we’re excited to have Spark on the team, we need more help!

We’re building a diverse, inclusive team to tackle a big problem. We’re looking for great engineers, product managers, designers, marketers and sales / account managers to help build Handshake. If you’re excited about making an impact and working on hard problems, please join us!

- Garrett Lord, Co-founder & CEO

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