Fintech startup Climb bags $9.8 million Series A funding to provide affordable financing for career-skill programs that lead to higher-paying jobs
The student loan debt is at a record $1.5 trillion with no sign of slowing. Politicians are busy fighting each other with no concrete solutions to the problem. Enter Climb Credit, a student lender startup that is addressing the student loan crisis by expanding socioeconomic opportunity for lower- and middle-income Americans. Climb also expands access to quality education for the new economy.
Unlike banks and other lending companies, Climb identifies, selects, and funds career-relevant training that meaningfully increases the earning potential of graduates. The schools and alternative pathways available on Climb’s platform teach skills needed for in-demand jobs across industries from software engineering and data science to teaching and heavy equipment operation. To date, Climb has originated well over $100 million in loans, funded the education and skills training of over 11,000 students, and partnered with more than 140 schools and next generation post-graduate career training programs.
We wrote about Climb back in January when the startup raised $50 million funding from Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group to expand access to career-transforming education for students. Today, Climb announced it has raised another $9.8 million in Series A financing to expand its career transformation platform to help more Americans increase their earning potential and introduce a new loan product to shake up the ISA market. The round was led by Third Prime and New Markets Venture Partners with participation from Acumen, Impact Engine, Two Culture Capital, and Elizabeth Tse—alongside existing investors including 1/0 Capital, Learn Capital, Montage Ventures, Hill Hedge Funds and Michael Sidgmore.
The startup was founded in 2014 by Alexander Rafael, Raza Munir, and Vishal Garg. Climb identifies schools that consistently improve their graduates’ earning potential and justify the cost of their tuition. They then provide simple, fast, and affordable loans to their students to help them meet their career and financial goals. By factoring in the power of a transformative education, Climb can offer more students better rates–and they strive to only finance education that positively impacts students’ lives.
“The current process of evaluating and choosing an education program is very difficult for potential students—especially with the existence of some over-priced schools teaching skills that are no longer in demand as well as predatory schools that don’t deliver,” said Wes Barton of Third Prime. “We’re excited to work with Climb, who is evaluating career training programs on the basis of their outcomes, and making the value—and top choices—more transparent to students.”
Climb will use the funding to expand its suite of products and help more people access skill-based training. On its expanded platform, Climb allows students to explore and compare career and technical schools, so they can find top schools that have been validated as high-quality—with career outcomes that are worth the cost of tuition. Climb verifies school quality through a proprietary return-on-investment calculation, an assessment that reviews each program’s cost, time to completion, graduate performance, job placement, starting salaries, and salary growth over time to ensure that potential students are receiving an education that is worth the tuition. The expanded platform makes Climb’s quality-vetted programs more accessible and helps students understand the connection between their education and career outcomes.
“We recognize that the future of work is constantly evolving due to rapid technology and labor-force advancements, and we want to enable people to gain the skills they need to succeed—without burying themselves in debt,” said Angela Ceresnie, CEO of Climb Credit. “We’ll use this capital to make a positive impact on the higher education industry by helping students throughout their career journey, from choosing the correct program of study to attaining credentials and continuous up-skilling.”
Additionally, Climb will use the funding to roll out a new outcomes-based loan within the next year. The new structure will be the first to market with a tuition payment option that includes the student benefits of an Income Share Agreement (ISA) along with the consumer protections of a loan.
“At a time when millions of American college graduates and dropouts are laboring under $1.4 trillion dollars of student debt and many are questioning the value of traditional college degrees, we’re proud to support a mission-driven company like Climb Credit, which is making alternative pathways and high-quality career training accessible to all students, regardless of socioeconomic background,” said Jason Palmer of New Markets Venture Partners. “We look forward to supporting the innovative solutions they’ll bring to market to drive the future of postsecondary education.”