- Transfr is a job training startup that helps workers learn new skills using virtual reality.
- Workers can learn new manufacturing skills in trainings that only take a few weeks to complete.
- Transfr just raised a $35 million Series B to expand its trainings into more marketplaces.
New York City-based Transfr wants to bring virtual reality job training into highly-technical workplaces across the country.
The startup has just raised $35 million in Series B funding to expand its training program into new industries and states. The round was led by Lumos Capital Group, with participation from Firework Ventures, the former CEO of edtech company Udemy, Dennis Yang, and former Upwork CEO Fabio Rosati.
Founded in 2017 by repeat edtech founder Bharani Rajakumar, Transfr started out as a way to solve the existing problems around the high costs of technical education in the US. After working in finance for years, he left to focus on his passion for furthering education through tech startups. After attending a virtual reality conference in 2017, he became immediately convinced that VR could be a game changer for learning technology.
“I tried a virtual reality experience for the first time and I just thought, holy cow, I cannot believe this is not widespread in teaching and learning,” he said.
After returning home from the conference, Rajakumar set out to build an affordable VR education curriculum for job training, since certain industries would be more likely to adopt this new technology to quickly upskill their workers.
“We started in manufacturing because what we learned is that there are a lot of jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage and there were employers that had this huge demand for job-ready candidates,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who do not have a four-year degree, but yet they are certainly interested in and in need of training,” Rajakumar told Insider.
Transfr works primarily with workforce development companies, said Rajakumar. These organizations purchase a Transfr “lab,” which is five Oculus Quest headsets that are preloaded with the virtual training facility. Once inside, workers chan choose from a variety of sectors like advanced manufacturing, automotive, construction, or aviation training.
Workers can then complete lessons in this simulated workspace with a virtual coach. Each coach walks the student through 10 to 15 minute mini lessons, and evaluates their performance in real time while students can complete the coursework at their own pace.
For Stephanie Kanowitz at Arkansas’ state office of skills and development, Transfr’s training curriculum came in handy during the pandemic when many training facilities closed and manufacturing employers were in desperate need of new workers. Kanowitz found that Transfr’s VR trainings were particularly a hit with community college students looking to explore different career options.
“The students love it because it’s something new. They get to play with a really cool new technology and see opportunities for the future,” she said.
Tranfr currently has around 300 customers using its trainings, including several Fortune 500 companies like Mazda, Toyota, Altec, and Nikola. While the startup is currently operating in 36 states nationwide, Rajakumar hopes to expand into even more states with the new funding. The team also plans to use some of the capital to build out its healthcare training curriculum.