Home Articles This workplace training start-up has raised $4 million in pre-Series A funding

This workplace training start-up has raised $4 million in pre-Series A funding


GO1, a workplace training provider and course marketplace, has raised around $4 million in pre-Series A funding, attracting a stellar cast of new and current investors.

GO1 helps organisations create customised online training and e-learning programs using their own materials or from GO1’s marketplace of workplace-related courses.

The funding values GO1 at over $15 million.

The pre-Series A raise was obtained from the Queensland government, Black Sheep Capital, Full Circle Venture Capital, Blue Sky Ventures, Amasia, and ex-Wotif.com chief financial officer Sam Friend, as well as existing investors Tank Stream Ventures, Y Combinator and entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Steve Baxter.

What does this funding mean for GO1?

The funding will be used to establish new offices in the US and Europe, expand GO1’s sales presence in selected countries, and on product development.

GO1 plans to hire approximately 30 people to bolster its worldwide sales team in the next 12 months.

“We are excited that leading US and Australian investors, alongside the State government, share a belief in GO1 and the market opportunity,” GO1 co-founder and CEO Andrew Barnes said.

“The future of education and workplace training is rapidly changing, and GO1 is well positioned to lead globally in this space,” Mr Barnes said.

GO1 received over $1 million from the Queensland Government in the $3 million pre-Series A round as part of the state government’s $30 million Business Development Fund.

Why has GO1 attracted this funding?

Mr Baxter said he continued to be impressed by GO1’s progress and the performance of its leadership team.

“Investing further in GO1 was a no brainer. GO1 is the perfect example of a startup who absolutely gets it and is poised to grow rapidly all over the world into a leading provider of learning and management platforms,” Mr Baxter said.

Mr Friend said GO1 was building an exciting corporate learning marketplace proposition with many parallels to the early days of the online travel industry.

Full Circle general partner Rowan Grant said it was “delighted to participate in GO1’s latest funding round alongside a fantastic group of investors”.

“I’ve been closely following the company have been extremely impressed by growth and execution of the team led by Andrew Barnes,” Mr Grant said.

“We were attracted by the team’s intimate knowledge of the education space and their ability to execute according the plan they laid out.

“We look forward to supporting GO1 into the future as they continue their strong growth,” he said.

Professional angel investor Black Sheep Capital also paid tribute to GO1’s strong management.

“Black Sheep Capital is excited to be investing in GO1, who are a company on the rise. The strength of the leadership team has allowed them to carveout a niche for themselves in the online training space and they are now well positioned for further global expansion,” Black Sheep Capital director Daniel Gavel said.

Dr Elaine Stead, Managing Director of Blue Sky’s Venture Capital division, said GO1’s incredible growth over the past 18 months was backed by the strong market for customised, curated educational content.

“GO1’s expertise in training and technology and award-winning approach to bringing the two together has international market-leading potential. Blue Sky is thrilled to join this team of investors and expand the best of Australian learning technology into global markets,” Dr Stead said.

What is the story behind GO1?

GO1 now features over 100,000 courses created by local and international experts and Customers include SEEK.com.au, Oxford University, National Australia Bank and St John Ambulance. CEO Andrew Barnes shared more about his fast growing start-up with Anthill in the interview below.

Who is Andrew Barnes?

I completed by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business Strategy at the University of Queensland in 2015.

GO1’s origin dates back to a garage in the suburbs of Brisbane where Vu Tran and I started a web development company. Over the years to follow, GO1 expanded at a rapid rate due to their ethos of hard work and a deep appreciation of every single client and evolved as a company to become one of the top online learning platforms in the country.

Having been awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, I studied at Oxford University while continuing to expand the business internationally. I have a Master of Science (MSc), Education (Learning and Technology) from Oxford.

After submitting a last minute application to the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, GO1 was accepted into 2015 Summer program, and triggering the worldwide expansion of the organisation.

GO1 is now an established leader in online learning and education, and continues to work alongside some of the largest companies in the world covering a wide range of industries and regions.

What inspired you to start GO1?

I was building out custom training portals for some of Australia’s biggest businesses and realised there was a gap in the market for corporate training. There is always a mix of content that is specific to an organisation (e.g. training on a company’s vision/mission or products and services) and content that is more generic (e.g. compliance or leadership training). We set out to solve that. It’s also really important for me that what we do has a positive impact. Even small investments in education can have massive impact.

What problem are you solving?

Identifying what training options exist, and what you may be required to do, is a very complex challenge. Even seemingly simple things like identifying what compliance training a business needs to do are a maze of different jurisdictions, industry requirements, and regulatory changes. GO1 aggregates over 100,000 courses and we are looking to index every training course on the planet – both online and offline. So if you’re looking to do a first aid certificate, or a course on leadership, then GO1 has the answer. At the same time we also allow organisations to deliver training on their own custom material.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in business and how did you overcome it?

Not knowing the future. Growing a business has been such a big learning curve and every day there are new challenges that need new solutions. For 2016 it’s a big challenge has been managing an increasingly international team. We now have offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Ho Chi Minh City,  Kuala Lumpur and San Francisco, and we also have staff in Europe and South Africa.