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Guild Education Reimagines Employee Benefits to Include Advancement

The mission-based Denver startup has worked with Chipotle Mexican Grill, DaVita Healthcare and more


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GUILD EDUCATION

FOUNDED: 2015 | HQ: DENVER

THE INSPIRATION

Guild co-founders Rachel Romer Carlson and Brittany Stich spent their early careers working at the intersection of education and technology, helping community college students succeed in school through tech-enabled coaching and navigate the process to transfer to a four-year school. In that work, they learned that nearly 80 percent of community college students were working 30-plus hours per week. Carlson and Stich spent two years across Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Graduate School of Education, conducting research on the education-for-employment gap and brainstorming solutions.

The results ultimately led to Guild, a model that helps companies offer education as a benefit to their employees, creating a corporate ROI while helping employees advance their education and career.

GETTING OFF THE GROUND

Carlson and Stich prototyped early models with pilot employer clients and students. During that time, the focus was on building the initial technology platform and establishing the initial marketplace of nonprofit universities and learning providers. As the company began to grow in early 2016, the Guild team relocated from San Francisco to Denver to establish a headquarters and has grown rapidly from a team of eight to 150 in the last 18 months.

THE TRAJECTORY

Guild launched its first program in the fall of 2015. Today, Guild’s Education Benefits Platform is available to more than 2.3 million working adults in the U.S., through companies like Walmart, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Discover Financial Services, DaVita Healthcare and Taco Bell, and thousands of students are working with Guild coaches each month to head back to school. Meanwhile, Guild has continued to grow its Education Network, adding new universities like the University of Denver and learning providers, like EdX, to the marketplace of options for students.

Guild and Lyft, the rideshare company, also announced a partnership, offering Lyft drivers across the country the opportunity to further their education, a first-of-its-kind program designed specifically for the sharing economy.

MAJOR MILESTONES

Guild is able to drive real, tangible outcomes for working adults as well as their companies. As a mission-driven and students-first company, its priority is and will continue to be those that it serves.

Guild celebrates students’ successes alongside them, whether that be a promotion at work, an employee receiving their first college acceptance letter or a good grade on an assessment. It’s what makes the team excited to wake up every day and head to the office – witnessing the model at work as they strive to increase economic mobility for students.

FUNDING

In September 2017, Guild closed a $21 million Series B round, one of the most significant investments in a female-founded company this year, bringing the total funding of the company to $31.5 million. Guild is funded by firms including Bessemer Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Harrison Metal and Cowboy Ventures.

HIRING? YES. The company expects to hire 70 people this year.

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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