Kitchener-Waterloo-based Plum has closed over $8 million CAD ($6 million USD) in growth funding as the human resources (HR) tech startup looks to help more large enterprises place the right people in the right roles.
Plum’s latest financing comes at a time when, despite all of the tech layoffs, many companies across a wide variety of industries and geographies are finding it particularly tough to acquire and retain the workers they need.
“Plum isn’t selling a psychometric assessment—we’re selling a solution to a real talent crisis.”
– Caitlin MacGregor, Plum
Amid what remains a particularly tight labour market with near record-low unemployment, Plum co-founder and CEO Caitlin MacGregor told BetaKit that her startup’s talent assessment platform offers an answer.
“At enterprise-level companies, C-suites are talking about the labour crisis and how to solve it,” MacGregor told BetaKit in an interview. “Plum isn’t selling a psychometric assessment—we’re selling a solution to a real talent crisis.”
Founded in 2012, Plum offers talent assessment software designed to help organizations hire, grow, and retain employees. Using psychometric data and artificial intelligence (AI), the startup’s platform enables firms to match people with positions, quantify job fit, improve hire quality, identify potential, provide personalized career insights, and strengthen their teams.
Plum’s latest funding round closed last week and was raised via a convertible note. Pearson Ventures, the venture capital arm of United Kingdom-based education company Pearson, led the financing. The round also saw participation from fellow new investors JFF Ventures and Strada Education Network out of the United States.
This EdTech-focused trio was joined by existing Plum investors Export Development Canada (EDC), Real Ventures, BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, Boston-based EduLab Capital Partners, and Chicago’s Impact Engine. The round brings Plum’s total funding to $19 million CAD ($14.5 million USD).
Pearson Ventures typically focuses on EdTech startups. But as MacGregor noted, two years ago, Pearson spun up a division focused on the future of work, snapping up digital credentials company Credly and workforce AI firm Faethm.
For his part, Pearson Ventures VP Pedro Vasconcellos expressed excitement about “the innovation that Plum is bringing to the Talent Management space,” citing the company’s focus “on connecting individuals to the right opportunities where they’ll thrive.” Vasconcellos added that the two organizations plan to explore “various collaboration opportunities.”
Plum closed a seed round in 2019 to fuel its expansion beyond recruitment and away from small-to-medium-sized businesses towards large enterprises.
MacGregor claimed that the recent growth financing comes at “significantly better terms” than the startup’s $4.2 million USD 2019 seed round. She declined to disclose what valuation it gives Plum but confirmed that this is an up round. The CEO classified the funding as a “pre-Series A,” noting that it will enable Plum to navigate the next 12 to 18 months. “We feel like we’re in really good shape to be in a great place in 2024, when the market should be healed or in a much better place,” MacGregor added.
The startup launched its new talent management platform in late 2020 as companies entered “triage mode” amid the pandemic, the shift to remote work that it fuelled, and the labour crisis it contributed towards.
“When a company is looking at solving for their talent crisis, be it screening in talent that the rest of the competition isn’t looking at, or retaining their existing employees, we’re really providing that missing dataset for them,” said MacGregor.
In late 2021, Plum secured a previously undisclosed $2.4 million USD seed extension led by Real Ventures with participation from BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, and Impact Engine. EDC and EduLab made their first investments in Plum as part of this round.
Plum, which has amassed a list of customers that includes Scotiabank, Citibank, and Whirlpool, claims it saw 100 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2022, benefitting as companies have invested more in HR tech to “future-proof” themselves amid labour shortages and tight job market conditions.
“The biggest thing is getting people to realize that there are solutions for the current labour crisis that they weren’t even aware of before,” said MacGregor. “Now that we’re on their radar… that’s why sales are taking off.”
MacGregor groups Plum’s competition into two categories: legacy talent assessment consulting firms that don’t scale as well as Plum, and resume-parsing tech companies. “It’s kind of just the pure tech, no science, or the science with really just some tech-enablement,” said the CEO, who claims Plum is creating a new space given its scalability and focus on assessing individual fit and potential across the entire employment lifecycle.
Plum plans to put some of its new capital into product development, and the vast majority towards sales and marketing, as the startup looks to add more enterprise customers across North America. “We really have a sales machine that’s taking off and working, and so this is the time to double down on that,” said MacGregor.
Feature image courtesy Plum.