Transfr raises $ 12 million for Collection A to deliver digital actuality to manufacturing amenities
The coronavirus has displaced millions of workers across the country. In order to recover, companies must focus on re-qualifying their workforce in a measured and sustainable manner. However, training and recruitment can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars, a large investment that is difficult to explain in volatile times.
For Bharani Rajakumar, founder of Transfr, the displaced person's dilemma is the perfect use case for virtual reality technology. Transfr uses virtual reality to create simulations of manufacturing facilities or warehouses for training purposes. The entry level of the platform offers workers the opportunity to learn a profession safely and effectively, and companies a solution to the mass qualification requirements.
At its core, Transfr is building a “classroom-to-career pipeline,” says Rajakumar. Businesses influence the training they need, and students can become entry-level students in vocational schools, on-site, or in training institutions. Below is a presentation of the company highlighting the apprentices' experiences.
Transfr's core technology is software. In terms of hardware, the company uses Facebook's Oculus Quest headset with Oculus for Business, not the generic customer hardware that is commercially available.
Transfr makes money by charging companies a software-as-a-service license fee, which can be as high as $ 10,000 depending on the workforce.
Transfr started out as a mentor-based VR training program. The company sold courses from bartending to surgery, as shown below:
According to Rajakumar, the move to training displaced persons came from realizing who had the purchasing power in the relationship with the newcomers. Note: It was the companies that could benefit most from a higher skilled worker.
Virtual reality has received a general boost and a better reputation due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it still has to be massively adopted by the Edtech founders. Rajakumar believes it could be revolutionary for the sector. He first saw virtual reality while attending a game conference in San Francisco in 2017.
"I can't believe games and pornography are the two big industries for this technology," he said. "I don't think anyone understands what this is going to be for teaching and learning."
Labster, which offers schools VR simulations for science lessons, has recorded 15 product usage since March. The company raised money in August to expand into Asia.
Michael Jensen, CEO and Co-Founder of Labster, says that Transfrs Gamification and just UX are good for adoption, but noted that production costs could be the biggest barrier to scaling the company.
"It's just too expensive to build a stable, well-polished VR application, and all gamers, including us, need to think about reusability, testability, and scalability to be truly successful."
Transfr tries to cut costs by creating a catalog of work simulations, a type of Transfr virtual reality training facility that can then be re-used for each customer. Every month the training facility is expanded with new, sought-after jobs so that it can be scaled without having to start over with each new customer. Transfr's customers have quadrupled since March.
Most notable, however, is Transfr's recent work in Alabama. The company is behind a statewide initiative in Alabama that uses its software in the Community College system and the Industrial Workers Commission for retraining purposes. Through these large contracts, Transfr will be able to truly scale its workforce training mission. Rajakumar hopes to sign 10 to 15 similar contracts over the next year.
It's an ambitious goal, and it pays to raise funding to achieve it. Transfr today announced that it has raised $ 12 million in a round led by Firework Ventures . The money will mainly be used to expand the Transfr catalog of virtual reality simulations. While the company is not yet profitable, Rajakumar says Transfr "could be" if they wanted to move at a slower rate of growth.
"Before COVID, people would say we are good Samaritans to work on workforce development," he said. "In a post-COVID world, people say we are important."