Butterfly nabs $2.4M seed round to improve managers with targeted tips

Nobody likes corporate trainings. Nobody.

In fact, one of life’s puzzles that eludes me most is how a person could enjoy corporate trainings enough to spend their time designing and running them. Perhaps only with disdain for the status quo can a startup create something that people not only don’t hate, but find helpful.

The idea for Butterfly, founded by David Mendlewicz, Simon Rakosi and Marcus Perezi-Tormos, originated from poor experiences the young managers had when receiving leadership training. The startup is announcing a $2.4 million seed round today from Daphni, Tectonic Capital, Precursor Ventures and a number of angels with the hopes of making things better.

Mendlewicz told me that the gold standard for training is a compressed quarterly or yearly training. This tends not to work because it’s not targeted in terms of content or timing. Instead, Butterfly monitors team feedback and uses machine learning to push brief, digestible tips to managers via a chatbot named Alex to help improve outcomes.

“We’re focusing on content that managers can take advantage of — short and conversational,” Mendlewicz added.

The startup is moving its focus to Fortune 500 companies. The team has already managed to onboard 20 large companies, including Citibank, Ticketmaster and Coca-Cola, with paid contracts reaching 50 percent or more of the addressable workforce at most customers.

Butterfly collects feedback about the impact it’s having within corporations. By building relationships with academics from the University of Oxford and Columbia University researching human behavior in the workplace, Butterfly hopes to unpack key drivers and use them to affect change.

“Younger workforces thrive on more feedback,” Charles Hudson, an investor in Butterfly from Precursor Ventures, told me in an interview. “You need a mechanism for delivering feedback to them in a way that works.”

Right now about a third of Butterfly’s content comes from third-parties and two-thirds is content the startup has indexed and reframed. In the future, the platform could make for an interesting content marketplace where managers could opt into the tools they think they could most benefit from.

“Buying central learning resources is going away and people at the individual or team level are going to have control over those budgets,” Hudson added.

With data of which resources work for which teams, Butterfly can inform decisions around which training content companies should be spending their money on. And ideally managers get accustomed to the format enough that learning starts to feel more like reading a story a friend sent via Messenger and less like a clunky, outdated training exercise.