London-based startup Neol has just raised $5.2 million in seed funding, its first outside capital, to build a Web3-enabled talent and learning platform that wants to take on both On Deck and McKinsey.
What does Neol do?
Neol runs online training schemes. is similar to on deck, though rather than targeting startup founders and operators, it will target younger design and creative professionals, as well as mid-level managers involved in corporate innovation. Neol will bring them together to study topics such as sustainability, food systems and the future of mobility, you know, the great problems.
The idea is that the $1,500 to $2,000 corporate employees will pay to participate in a cohort will help supplement scholarships for people earlier in their careers. Companies will also be able to financially support cohorts.
On the talent side, Neol wants to work with the community that is already gathered to learn how to provide consulting and support services to companies. If, for example, a global fashion brand wants to reinvent their packaging or supply chain to be more sustainable, they can call on the Neol community for ideas.
“The McKinseys of the world are not well equipped to work on those kinds of challenges in the way that this kind of community-driven platform can,” says Neol co-founder Kerem Alper.
What does Web3 have from Neol?
The longer-term plan, says Alper, is to find more ways to put decision-making and ownership in the hands of platform members, a decentralized vision of “sharing the wealth” that is central to Web3 companies.
In the future, that will mean allowing community members to build their own cohorts and create a token or some kind of Neol currency. People could be rewarded with tokens for doing things that benefit the platform, like bringing great talent to a consulting project with a company or giving a great class to a cohort.
Alper gives the example of how this might be different from a regular university, where a teacher’s only motivation to continue teaching might be the brand of that school or the quality of the students there.
In a tokenized Web3 university, that same professor would be financially rewarded for helping build a richer academic community, beyond his salary.
How is the market?
- Neol believes it taps into both the e-learning market and freelance work, two markets that will grow rapidly in the coming years. The e-learning market alone is expected to grow by approx. 24% per annum until 2028 – what would put it between the fastest growing sectors in the world.
- And with competition for talent still fierce, companies are looking for creative sources of off-the-shelf talent, especially when it’s selected. This is one area where Web3 proponents say Web3 can really shine, especially when it comes to sharing the fruits of that labor with the entire community.
Who is investing in Neol?
- The round was co-led by kyu Collective, a network of creative companies backed by Japan’s second largest advertising agency, and Global Ventures, a venture capital firm most active in the Middle East and Africa.
- Other participating investors: Tony Xu, CEO of DoorDash, LearnStart, FJ Labs, Paribu Ventures.
What’s next for Neol?
- Right now, Neol is focused on building its product, brand and partnerships in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, but also wants to expand into markets in the “Global South”.
Cohort and community-led learning is all the rage – just look at how popular On Deck has become in recent years or the funding that has been poured in. Section of Scott Galloway4. And Neol seems to have chosen a distinct niche within that, which could work in his favor.
Alper insists that the decentralized and tokenized aspect of the business is key, but more broadly, it remains to be seen if that’s something that really motivates talent or if organic community pull alone will be a strong enough retention tool. strong.