Propel, an HR-tech startup developing a managed services platform for communities and talent, has secured a €2.5 million funding round. The round was led by Amsterdam-based No Such Ventures, with participation from APX (Axel Springer & Porsche), Golden Egg Check, and Future of Learning Fund.
Founded by Sunkanmi Ola, Seun Owolabi, and Abel Agoi in 2020, the startup has built a platform that specialized tech talent communities (developer groups, talent incubators, training schools etc.) use to solve their last-mile problems – like connecting their members to job opportunities, financial services and other perks/benefits.
Propel works with 100+ tech communities across 15 countries that serve roughly 400,000 members. Highlights include SheCodeAfrica – one of Africa’s largest female-focused communities, Ingressive for Good – an open community that trains thousands of people in tech annually and Niyo Network – an organization that runs Web2 and Web3 bootcamps for underrepresented women.
Speaking on the rationale behind this community-focused model, Sunkanmi Ola, Co-founder and CEO of Propel shared: “Communities are the building blocks of any ecosystem – and tech communities, especially across high-growth markets like Africa and within underrepresented groups, have emerged in their thousands to cover the massive gaps in education, skill development, and inclusion. “However, they are constantly on the lookout for how to solve last-mile problems faced by their members and become more financially sustainable while still pushing to achieve their impact goals. That’s a tall order. By giving communities access to a simplified platform that solves this for them, we can tangibly impact the growth of millions of people on a scale that has not been seen before.”
In exchange for providing last-mile infrastructure, Propel plugs deeply into the pools of tech talent within these communities. This pipeline is offered to global companies in what it calls a ‘Community as a Service’ model. Propel has worked with companies like Porsche, Mercedes, Orange Telecom, Farfetch, Stepstone, and a roster of startups and scaleups – mostly across Europe, for a variety of purposes – like hiring talent, co-creating community hackathons, and designing DEI initiatives.
To date, the company has raised over €3 million, and was one of the winners of the Google Black Founders Fund in Europe last summer. The new funds would be deployed into scaling its community platform, launching new client offerings, and deepening its ecosystem of communities.
Speaking about the raise, Sophie Heijenberg, investor at No Such Ventures said “Propel’s unique, community-focused approach to driving the open talent economy sets them apart and is a solid addition to the Future of Work category. We’re bullish about their roadmap, and super-excited to partner with them on this growth journey.
Thomas Mensink, Golden Egg Check Capital adds: I met Sunkanmi Ola for the first time back in 2019 after he reached out for our support with investor introductions, and stayed in touch ever since. Propel was the first company we invested in last year, so I’m just really happy to be part of this new round again!