Skillcycle Wins the Second Startup Showdown Pitch Competition

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Portfolio
Startup Showdown

We're pleased to announce that SkillCycle (formerly GoCoach), a B2B SaaS talent development upskilling platform, is the second winner of our monthly Startup Showdown pitch competition that showcases and funds early-stage tech companies. SkillCycle received a $120,000 investment prize and is now part of the BIP Ventures community of companies.

A Conversation with Skillcycle

To learn more about SkillCycle and its pitch competition experience, we spoke to Kristy McCann Flynn, its founder and CEO.

Congratulations on your Startup Showdown win, Kristy. Can you tell us how the idea for SkillCycle came about?

SkillCycle grew out of my 20 years of experience working as a corporate HR executive for several companies. I felt a lot of frustration about the so-called "skill shortage" in organizations that was in fact perpetuated by the organizations themselves by continually replacing workers instead of investing in them through training and skills development. I left the corporate world in 2017 and assembled a group of 10 women peers to start putting up the scaffolding for GoCoach. We launched in April 2018 at an HR conference in Las Vegas and landed our very first customer.

‍What does the SkillCycle platform do?

SkillCycle meets people right where they are with personalized coaching and blended e-learning to reskill or upskill anyone. This increases the employee's value to the organization, and lets the employee take control over their career. SkillCycle is a subscription-based, SaaS platform that offers self-guided coach selection, requires no minimum enrollment, incorporates easy-to-understand workflows, and gives both managers and employees clear views into the employee's progress. In terms of the types of education offered, we serve entry level to executive level with learning focused on a range of hard and soft skills.    

While other solutions can be very monolithic and fractured in terms of what they offer, GoCoach is truly an all-in-one platform.    

Are you seeing any notable trends within your space?

Some of our more progressive clients are providing each employee with an annual learning and development "wallet" or stipend they can then use to select specific coaching or learning based on identified skill gaps or skillsets they want to obtain. We think this is great, because it's giving every employee access to learning instead of just a select few. Some of the most common areas for coaching and learning are change management, communication, collaboration, leadership, sales, and finance, to name a few.    

As a very young company, how did SkillCycle fare during the early days of the pandemic?

Before the pandemic struck in early 2020, we had been on track to have our best financial quarter ever. I knew the storm was coming for HR professionals who would be forced to make some tough decisions about their workforce. The last thing I wanted to do was try to sell into those departments during such a time when HR had the world on its shoulders.

Beginning in the latter half of Q1 2020 through a portion of Q3, we gave free subscriptions to SkillCycle so that companies could use the shutdown period for worker education and learning. We thought it was a "pay-it-forward" thing to do. The great news is that once we went back into sell mode in late Q3 and Q4, we quadrupled our client base because companies that were using the platform without charge had seen its value firsthand and wanted to continue.

How did you find out about Startup Showdown?

I think I first read about it on LinkedIn, and it looked like a great opportunity, so I applied. SkillCycle has also been part of a couple of accelerators, so I was already aware of the BIP Ventures brand through them.    

How does SkillCycle plan to utilize the Startup Showdown investment prize?

We're going to invest it into further evolving our platform's technology. We want to continue to build on our MVP based on customer feedback and the performance metrics we've obtained. It's our goal to offer the best technology in our category, and to do that, you must continually grow and evolve the product.

What stands out to you about your Startup Showdown Experience? What would you tell other startup founders about it?

The feedback I received from the judges and mentors as a semifinalist was highly impactful. They really spent time giving helpful criticism and suggestions on so many aspects, from the product itself to my pitch deck and presentation — they helped to "unlock and unblock" my presenting skills, so to speak. Startup Showdown was one of the best experiences I've had with competitions to date, because the mentors really were there to help you hone your skills and win. Whether they win or not, the experience and gained insights, as well as the connections made, will be invaluable.  

 I wholeheartedly encourage other founders to apply for one of the upcoming Startup Showdown events.

The application period for entrepreneurs to pitch in the August and September events is open now. Apply Here.    

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