Paris-based startup Simbel has raised a €4 million seed round to help small and medium-sized businesses adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Simbel provides a SaaS enabled marketplace for learning and development (L&D) to keep staff’s knowledge and skills fresh and relevant to their employer’s evolving needs. Businesses’ own materials can be combined with more than 500 pieces of content and courses from top training providers, available directly through Simbel’s integrated marketplace.
Learning and development programs are often unpopular with employees, and are seen as something they’re made to do to check a box, rather than something they can truly benefit from. Simbel integrates with SMBs’ existing HR stack and uses periodic performance reviews as a starting point for identifying individual learning and development needs. It makes learning and development simple to deliver, allowing SMBs to benefit from the most up-to-date training from the best providers, while helping HR teams streamline all their L&D ops and measure the impact of the training.
“HR teams are supposed to inspire teams, create learning rituals, organize internal and external learning sessions, and oversee learning and development. But the reality is that SMBs typically only have one or two people to manage all these activities and still run their L&D on Excel sheets.” explains Simbel CEO and co-founder Loïc Jourdain.
The story so far
Loïc Jourdain co-founded Simbel with Charles Gras, combining Loïc Jourdain’s experience running business operations at French services marketplace Stootie, and Gras’ experience building L&D solutions for SMBs and corporates.
“As a manager, Loic was spending more and more time identifying L&D needs such as annual reviews, performance reviews, and 360 feedback. But he lacked a tool to implement an L&D action plan,” says Gras. “And while working at education platform 360Learning, I’d noticed that most L&D solutions were silos, when SMBs need a simple, all-in-one solution.”
Launching out of beta with €4m
Simbel launched in 2021 and developed its offering in partnership with its first clients, including Blablacar and Roland Berger, while in beta. But as of today, Simbel is officially out of beta mode and available to every SMB in Europe. The startup has announced the launch of partnerships with the best HR and talent development software platforms for SMBs.
The seed round was led by Speedinvest and edtech-focused investor Brighteye. Participating angels include eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elziere, Figures co-founder Virgile Ringeart, Stupeflix co-founder Nicolas Steegmann, and Prestashop co-founder Alexandre Eruimy.
The new funding will accelerate Simbel’s product development. “Our ambition is to build the easiest solution for organizations to promote the right learning content at the right time, based on our marketplace data and the organization’s own HR data,” says Jourdain.
“Building a company is all about people,” says Jourdain. “Yet most HR tech solutions essentially streamline admin processes. At Simbel, we believe that the HR stack of tomorrow will be built upon the solutions that maximize employee development and performance.”
“To stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing working environment, companies must make sure their employees have the up-to-date skills needed to perform their jobs well. It’s a massive task for any size organization and even more difficult for resource-strapped SMBs. Simbel’s commitment to these historically underserved businesses is making it possible for some 200,000 SMBs in Europe alone to now offer employees world-class learning & development at scale,” says Jeroen Arts, Partner with the Marketplaces & Consumer team at Speedinvest.
“We were immediately convinced by Loïc and Charles, who are methodical, determined and deeply knowledgeable founders. They have unique insights into the untapped L&D space for SMBs and have been able to build a product that delivers the fastest, cheapest and easiest way for employees to access curated and best-in-class training providers. Their vision resonated with us and we believe that Simbel can become the L&D standard for SMBs,” says David Guérin, Principal at Brighteye.