Nov 2, 2022 - Economy

Exclusive: Michelle Rhee's tech apprenticeship startup raises $2.4 million

Photo illustration of Michelle Rhee on an abstract background with shapes representing addition.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

BuildWithin, a Washington, D.C.-based developer of apprenticeship management software, tells Axios that it's raised $2.4 million in pre-seed funding led by Dundee Venture Capital.

Why it matters: The startup is co-founded by Michelle Rhee, one of the most polarizing figures in American education. It's her first for-profit company, and says she hopes to apply some of her K-12 learnings to workforce training — at a time when there are still millions of unfilled tech jobs.

  • Rhee's co-founder is CEO Ximena Hartsock, a tech entrepreneur (Phone2Action), who previously worked with Rhee in the D.C. public school system and as part of an education reform lobbying group called StudentsFirst.
  • In addition to D.C., the startup has offices in Fairfax, Va. and in California.

Details: The round was structured as an unpriced SAFE note, and the startup plans to seek between $5 million and $7 million in seed funding by the middle of next year. It currently has a $1 million ARR.

The bottom line: Apprenticeship programs are regulated by the Labor Department, and BuildWithin is an approved intermediary. It sells not only to companies, but also to municipalities that may invest in local workforce development (workshops, conferences, etc.) but then lack systems to track what happens next.

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