Cultivate Raises $8M to Bring Scalable AI-Driven Leadership Coaching to the Enterprise

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Trinity Ventures leads Series A investment in company improving management skills through real-time digital coaching.

Cultivate, AI-driven enterprise leadership coaching platform

Cultivate, AI-driven enterprise leadership coaching platform

Cultivate helped SAP North America HR dramatically rethink how we can better coach our leaders at scale.

Cultivate, a digital leadership coaching platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide in-the-moment feedback and management coaching within the enterprise, today announced an $8 million Series A investment to grow its go-to-market team and product offerings. Trinity Ventures led the Series A round with participation from previous investors Bloomberg Beta, Silicon Valley Data Capital and SAP.iO. Karan Mehandru from Trinity Ventures will be joining the Cultivate board of directors. Cultivate has raised a total of $10 million since the company exited from a Samsung NEXT accelerator program in the summer of 2018.

According to a 2018 People Management study by The Predictive Index of over 5,000 employees, 77% of respondents who rated their bosses as “bad managers” intended to leave their company in the next 12 months. With 2 million employees leaving their jobs monthly, turnover is costing businesses $11 billion annually. While the problem of poor managers impacting the employee experience is well-defined, no scalable and cost-effective solutions are available to global enterprises seeking to up-level their leaders’ management skills.

Cultivate aims to address this leadership development gap by leveraging unstructured communication data, rather than traditional surveys, to empower individual managers with insights on their own behaviors and easy-to-execute actions to strengthen their workplace relationships. Cultivate reviews a manager’s own digital communication data -- through channels such as Office 365, Google Suite, Teams and Slack -- to deliver private feedback and coaching directly to managers who have opted-into the service. As Cultivate learns a manager’s communication patterns, it nudges them to focus on developmental areas related to leadership and soft skills. A manager can also give feedback to Cultivate to adjust the nudges based on the context of the relationships with their team.

Cultivate is currently being used by some of the world’s largest enterprises, including SAP, which has deployed it to more than 500 managers. "Cultivate helped SAP North America HR dramatically rethink how we can better coach our leaders at scale. As a people leader myself, Cultivate gives me personal and objective feedback that I can't get from traditional forms of self-reporting,” said Dan Healey, SVP and Head of HR for SAP North America. “At SAP, people are at the center of everything we do. Cultivate is helping us develop tomorrow’s leaders to be empathetic, inclusive and responsive."

Co-founder and CEO Joseph Freed founded Cultivate along with Samir Meghani and Andy Horng, who worked previously on complex data modeling techniques at University of California Berkeley’s Jagust Lab. “Cultivate came from my own need as a people leader. I wanted to understand if I was treating people differently and not aware of it,” said Freed. “I found that today’s forms of active feedback like pulse surveys or 360s did not provide me the level of self-awareness I needed to impact any meaningful change. Given that a large portion of my relationships at work are digital, I wanted an AI tool that worked for me, parsing data to give me insights into how I communicate as a leader and where I can improve. The future of enterprise transformation is scaling tools that empower the individual.”

“Great companies large and small know that their most precious differentiator is their people. It is therefore not surprising that leading enterprises are investing in employee coaching and leadership development in order to maintain their edge in the fierce global war for talent,” said Karan Mehandru, Trinity Ventures general partner and Cultivate board member. “Cultivate is the only solution in the market that scales infinitely to help people managers take their leadership skills to the next level.”

About Cultivate
Cultivate’s mission is to help companies transform their next-generation leaders with data. Without surveys or user input, Cultivate turns a manager's digital communication data into actionable leadership insight. Cultivate’s AI-driven coaching platform provides real-time feedback and recommendations to empower managers to improve leadership skills and strengthen workplace relationships in the digital age. Cultivate works with global Fortune 500 enterprises and has received $10 million in investment by leading venture capital investors focused on the future of work, such as Trinity Ventures and Bloomberg Beta. For more information, visit https://trycultivate.com.

About Trinity Ventures
Trinity Ventures is a top-tier venture capital firm that takes a personal approach to early stage investing. For over thirty years, Trinity has helped passionate entrepreneurs with breakthrough ideas transform markets and lives. The firm manages $1.37 billion of committed capital with investments in consumer and enterprise technology companies. The Trinity investment portfolio includes iconic brands like Starbucks, Zulily and New Relic, as well as "unicorns" like Auth0, Cohesity, Turo and Outreach. For more information, visit https://www.trinityventures.com.

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Kalee Fennelly
@trinityventures
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