NextStep is raising more cash to build out its platform for recruiting and training healthcare workers and funneling them to employers.
Coming off a $3.3 million round last year, the Pioneer Square Labs spinout is in the process of closing out another $3 million in funding. NextStep aims to recruit people in low-wage jobs who are threatened by displacement from automation and artificial intelligence and train them for in-demand healthcare positions, including certified nursing assistant, home health aide and personal care assistant.
NextStep CEO Chris Hedrick told GeekWire that the aging population in the U.S. creates demand for more than 1 million new workers per year in these job roles. The startup will use the cash infusion to bring its first product to market this summer: a training and job placement program for long-term care workers.
“We’ve already built a scalable mobile learning technology platform and are just finishing production of the training program for long term care workers,” Hedrick said. “We’ll use the funding to recruit the first groups of students and to accelerate building employer partnerships for job placement.”
When it closes this round of funding, which is an extension of last year’s seed round but with a higher valuation, the company will hit a lifetime funding total of $6.3 million. The primary seed investor, JAZZ Venture Partners, is leading the new round and is joined by existing investors Learn Capital’s LearnStart fund, and Springrock Ventures.
NextStep’s primary source of income will come from selling its services to employers who need healthcare workers.
Today, NextStep has 11 employees, eight of whom are in Seattle. The company contracts with experts when putting together technical courses for students.
Hedrick previously led a higher education program in Rwanda called Kepler and a learning technology and outsourcing company Intrepid Learning. He was also the first employee of the Gates Library Foundation, the predecessor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed national philanthropic programs for Microsoft.
Hedrick co-founded NextStep with healthcare industry veteran Charissa Raynor, the former executive director of The Benefits Group, where she led the development of the nation’s largest home care training initiative. Raynor is also a registered nurse.
The co-founders worked together in the past and were re-introduced by Pioneer Square Labs Managing Director Greg Gottesman. Gottesman served on the board of Intrepid Learning, and the idea for NextStep came out of conversations between him and Hedrick.