iSTAR raises Rs 10 crores in Series A, led by Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

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Investment to be used for a national sales expansion, investment in technology and content development

9 November, 2015. Bangalore, India: iSTAR Skill Development, a skill training company has raised Rs 10 crores (USD $1.5M) in Series A funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Unitus Ventures, an early investor in iSTAR also participated in this Series A financing round. iSTAR provides skill training and recruitment services to undergraduate students from arts and science colleges across India.

iSTAR raised their seed round of equity funding in April 2013 from Unitus Ventures  when they were present only in Bangalore district and have since expanded their footprint across South India, training and providing placement to over 17,000 students to date.  Prior to funding from Unitus, iSTAR had received early funding support from the National Skill Development Corporation and the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, IIM Ahmedabad. The company was set up by Surga Thilakan and Sreeraman Vaidyanathan, both graduates from IIM Ahmedabad.

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Around 12 million people are expected to join the workforce every year over the next decade. In contrast, the country has a total training capacity of around 4.3 million, thereby depriving around 64 percent of entrants the opportunity of formal skill development every year. Further, millions of graduating students are unable to find employment opportunities. The skill deficit is largely due to an absence of a skill orientation in higher education curriculum and poor practical orientation to pedagogy.  India faces a major challenge of imparting “employable skills” to its growing workforce over the next few decades. By 2020, the country is expected to face a shortage of 13 million medium-skilled workers, posing a big impediment to labor-intensive sectors.

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iSTAR plans to use the investment to expand their college footprint across 10 states, for investment in technology and e-learning platforms and to build new content.

”iSTAR has seen tremendous growth since our seed round which allowed us to expand across south India” said Sreeram Vaidyanathan, Co-Founder iSTAR. ”We are now poised at an exciting inflection point and are pleased to have the Dell family Foundation and Unitus partner with us as we leverage technology to scale up our employability solutions across the country” he added.

“Through this new investment in iSTAR and our investment in Unitus Ventures, the Foundation continues its emphasis on catalysing strong education and skill training start-ups in India,” said Geeta Goel, Director, Mission Investing at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “We believe that iSTAR has the potential to foster truly breakthrough innovations that serve the poor and support India’s growing employable workforce. We are excited to be a part of iSTAR’s expansion” she added.

“iSTAR has a scalable solution to one of India’s most vexing problems – the ‘employability gap’”, said Will Poole, co-founder and managing partner of Unitus Ventures. “Technology is vital to scaling iSTAR’s operations. With this funding, their tech investments will dramatically increase their operational efficiency and at the same time deliver even more compelling student learning experiences” he added.

About iSTAR

iSTAR is a skill development company engaged in providing high quality employability training and placement services to college students. Its founders are alumni from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) with extensive experience in Banking, Financial Services and Technology industries. iSTAR has been an early pioneer in addressing India’s skill challenge and has been recognized by the Government of India’s National Skill Development Corporation as a Partner Institution and received the prestigious Power of Ideas Award in the Social Enterprise Category in 2010. More about iSTAR >

About Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

Founded in 1999, the central mission of the US-based Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is transforming the lives of children living in urban poverty through better health and education. Since 2006, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation have invested more than INR 856 crores (USD $138 million) in transforming the lives of children living in urban poverty in India.  In addition to its focus on education and health, the foundation also seeks to increase family economic stability as a prerequisite of progress on either front. More about MSDF >

About Unitus Ventures

Unitus Ventures is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in healthcare, education, mobile & consumer, retail & e-commerce, financial services and agriculture sectors. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Ventures is based in Bangalore and Seattle. More about Unitus Ventures >

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