“Training Corporate Employees on Data and AI: Modal Secures $25M Investment”

A few years ago, Darren Shimkus, ex-president of Udemy, had a conversation with Dennis Yang about skills building. Modal provides personalized technical skills training for a company’s staff, offering on-demand coaching and a pedagogical approach that groups users into semi-structured online learning communities. First, Shimkus says, by honing in on hot trends: data and AI. “The rise of AI is bringing more visibility to data teams than ever before,” Shimkus said. “It’s hard in today’s ever-changing workplace landscape to predict what your teams need, meaning most leaders don’t have a reliable way to plan for and improve their team’s skills.

A few years ago, Darren Shimkus, ex-president of Udemy, had a conversation with Dennis Yang about skills building.

Shimkus was of the belief that building skills in the corporate sector was a difficult, but not intractable, challenge — one that could perhaps be solved with the right technology. He brought it up to Yang, who had been Udemy’s CEO.

During their conversation, Shimkus and Yang realized that while Udemy had solved the problem of access to learning through video content, it was not enough on its own.

  • One thing led to another, and soon, they had a new startup on their hands: Modal.
  • Modal provides personalized technical skills training for a company’s staff, offering on-demand coaching and a pedagogical approach that groups users into semi-structured online learning communities.
  • Shimkus explained, “Our offering assesses every member of a team, identifies gaps in their skill sets, and creates a custom plan for each team member that minimizes the ‘skill risk’ companies face in hitting their strategic goals.”
  • “We support all kinds of goals — modernization efforts, digital transformation and even training new employees from an acquisition,” he added.

The upskilling market is a crowded space, occupied by startups like GrowthSpace, Learnsoft, Pollen, Scaler, Workera, and others. But Modal plans to stand out by focusing on two hot trends: data and AI.

According to Shimkus, “The rise of AI is bringing more visibility to data teams than ever before. Expectations are through the roof, and many teams are realizing they need to rapidly develop their AI capabilities, broad technical acumen and even the business skills of their teams.”

Furthermore, one of Modal’s key advantages is its emphasis on real-world application. As learners go through the courses, they are paired with a coach who helps contextualize and assist with key concepts.

Shimkus elaborates, “From the perspective of the learner, our inclusion of applied practice and coaching really set us apart from traditional e-learning platforms. We think our direct competitors are relatively few.”

And it seems to be working. Modal, which only charges companies when a staffer completes a course, already has over 100 clients, mostly coming from the Fortune 1000.

Recently, Modal raised $25 million in a funding round led by Left Lane Capital, bringing their total raised to $32 million. Now they plan to expand their team in order to meet the growing demand and offer their services to organizations worldwide.

Shimkus reflects, “We’ve been fortunate that the rise of generative AI has driven a critical need for upskilling in companies — no one can afford to miss out on transforming their teams and businesses.” He continues, “It’s hard in today’s ever-changing workplace landscape to predict what your teams need, meaning most leaders don’t have a reliable way to plan for and improve their team’s skills. Modal is built for this scenario.”

Avatar photo
Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

Articles: 799

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *