NextStep, a Seattle startup which uses its technology platform to retrain displaced workers for roles in the healthcare industry, has raised $2.5 million in new funding.
The company, founded in 2018 and spun out of Seattle’s Pioneer Square Labs, integrates app-based and in-person skills practice to train people to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs), which it calls the largest healthcare role in the United States.
NextStep is growing in Colorado, a pilot state for the startup, where it already trains and places new CNAs at more than 70 facilities run by its employer partners.
“This new funding will allow us to grow further in Colorado, to launch our services in other states, and to continue to improve our technology platform and learning content,” CEO Chris Hedrick said.
NextStep’s revenue comes primarily from employer partners who provide the company with a one-time placement fee for each NextStep graduate that goes to work for them. NextStep also develops specific online courses for the broad market, including the National COVID-Ready Caregiver Certification, which has been taken by over 50,000 caregivers from over 2,000 employers across the U.S.
“The pandemic has certainly made our business more complicated, but we’ve adapted to help our students and customers succeed,” Hedrick said. “When nursing homes had COVID outbreaks it both made placements more difficult and created huge demand for CNAs.”
Along with its Caregiver Certification, NextStep has taken other steps in reaction to the pandemic and its consequences, including:
- Development of a virtual practice lab and clinical experiences to allow students to keep training remotely during lockdowns, before being placed with an employer.
- Increased outreach to people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, especially those who had been working in the hospitality industry. NextStep says 42% of its graduates were unemployed and 53% were on Medicaid before being placed in full-time jobs with health benefits. Those that were employed before graduating increased their hourly wages by more than 20% on average, according to the startup.
NextStep has 45 employees based in nine states, with the majority in Washington state and Colorado.
The latest funding round was led by new backers ZOMA Capital and ETF@JFFlabs, along with existing investors Springrock Ventures and JAZZ Venture Partners. NextStep, which previously raised $3.6 million in April 2020, has raised $13.46 million to date.
Hedrick said the startup expects to raise “a substantial Series A financing” in the second half of 2021 to allow NextStep to grow nationally.