Digital portfolio company Pathbrite today announced that it has secured a $2.5 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Rethink Education with a strategic investment from U.S. college and career readiness assessment company ACT. These investors join an impressive group of angel investors, including Ben and Jerry’s Ben Cohen, Serious Change’s Joshua Mailman and Zynga co-founder Steve Schoettler. Including this round, Pathbrite has now raised about $4 million. The San Francisco-based company plans to use this additional funding to continue its product development and focus on new user acquisition.
The idea behind Pathbrite is that traditional resumes and portfolios don’t give prospective employers enough information about potential employees, especially now that students create such a wealth of digital artifacts about themselves. With Pathbrite, students can, as the company says, “collect, chronicle and showcase a lifetime of learning and personal achievements, enabling students to differentiate themselves and to stand out from the crowd.”
As the company’s CEO Heather Hiles told me earlier today, the company is currently mostly targeting college students, but it’s also been testing the product with high schools and even some younger kids. There is some evidence, says Hiles, that digital portfolios don’t just increase people’s chances of getting a job, but also improve their critical thinking skills at the same time.
Beyond this, though, Pathbrite’s long-term goal is to see its tools being used across age groups and as a place where life-long learners can aggregate all their achievements and credentials. Indeed, she stressed how she also thinks about the product as something akin to “credentials 2.0″ and as a way to liberate data about learners that is now typically held by colleges (report cards, transcripts, earned credentials etc.). On Pathbrite, these certified official documents can stand side-by-side with other digital artifacts that can give evaluators a more complete picture of a student’s achievements and personality.
A number of college admissions offices will soon use Pathbrite as an alternative to traditional resumes and Pathbrite plans to launch an enterprise product with added security capabilities later this year.
Currently, the service is available for free and as Hiles told me, the company plans to always offer a robust free plan. In addition, the company plans to launch some additional paid features in the future.