Nishika de Rosairothe founder and general manager of HumanQ, has a vision for employee coaching that disagrees with some of the biggest and most valuable startups out there. Instead of one-on-one coaching, like venture capital backed companies: BetterUp and sounding board To offer employees and managers, HumanQ wants to make group coaching an impactful alternative.
“We believe that the growth of organizations and individuals is not about the agenda of the individual and what they need – it is about the agenda of the organization in relation to groups of people who will have to work together,” she said.
By betting on the collective mindset, HumanQ has delivered a $2 million starting round led by Kindred Ventures, with the participation of angel investors including Toast CFO Elena Gomez, Natus Medical CHRO Lisa Paul and Google Head of Engineering Dinesh Chahlia. Rosario declined to give the company’s rating, but said in the end it was “really great and honest.” This is the company’s first tranche of capital after more than three years of construction.
Just two years ago, career coaching wasn’t necessarily a hot industry, but as the rise of remote work, the big layoffs and the awesome reset all set off a perfect storm that leaves employees looking for direction (and employers looking for retention). ), it’s not surprising to see yet another game in space.
The biggest argument for one-on-one coaching is personalization. If your employer can appoint a coach focused only on ways to better support and develop your career, it can be a strong support mechanism that promotes energy – and a smart retention tool. The time commitment varies from 6 to 36 hours over a year in a given contract.
“Although coaching companies are springing up like mushrooms, they are all [do] same thing: one-on-one coaching and in a way that doesn’t respond to the needs of the organization like we do,” said Rosairio.
She argues that the company’s commitment to the group helps build mindset, break functional and geographic silos, and recreate a water cooler conversation — all of which could contribute to teamwork, inclusion and innovation. The startup claims that 94% of the participants in their program feel more engaged as a result. HumanQ has provided more than 16,000 hours of coaching to more than 2,000 users, representing a 280% growth from 2020 to 2021.
HunanQ is a structured marketplace, meaning employers pay coaches after helping clients. The startup says it has generated cash flow since launch, but when asked if it was profitable, it said its “focus has been on injecting funds back into R&D.”
A potential challenge for HumanQ is one that is synonymous with any group-based work: how do you create a safe space that balances vulnerability with buy-in and professionalism? Rosairo says the company is very specific in how it hires coaches, screening to ensure they can navigate individual personalities, create psychological safety and support confidentiality.
They need the “resources to balance the needs of the individual with the group and the points of tension that may exist, especially when you are working [that can get] hot and tough.” It’s a difficult balance to strike, but one that the startup has confidence in to scale. Currently, all coaches work with HumanQ on a contract basis – great for flexibility, but challenging when you consider historical revenue with employment status.
About 95% of the coaches on the platform have some sort of certification, Rosairo said they don’t need to be certified to join HumanQ. Instead, she says they need to prove they have workplace and industry experience in different scenarios to consider. The company is testing a direct-to-consumer version of its product this year, but started selling direct to businesses, where most of the gaps were noted.
The pitch is enough to win the trust of companies such as Microsoft, VMware, Chobani, Accenture and Gojek, all customers of HumanQ.