Elise Smith And Heather Shen's Praxis Labs Raises $15.5M In Oversubscribed Series A Round
Photo Credit: Makeda Sandford
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Elise Smith And Heather Shen's Praxis Labs Raises $15.5M In Oversubscribed Series A Round

Praxis Labs, a Black and Asian-woman-founded company utilizing the power of virtual reality (VR) for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) training, just raised $15.5 million in an oversubscribed Series A round.

This is the second major funding round for the company, which raised $3.2 million in February 2021, AfroTech previously reported. According to their website, Elise Smith and Heather Shen, both Stanford graduates, launched Praxis Labs in late 2019 to leverage their unique experiences and perspectives to “build the most efficacious and impactful learning experiences.”

In a press release, Praxis Labs indicated that the financing round was co-led by Norwest Venture Partners and Emerson Collective. Other investors in the round included Penny Jar Capital (anchored by Steph Curry), Precursor Ventures, Concrete Rose Capital, Ulu Ventures, SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund and Firework Ventures.

“Our society is more segregated than ever, and the workplace is often the most diverse space we enter — where we encounter differences of backgrounds and perspectives,” said Praxis Labs co-founder and CEO, Elise Smith in a press release. “We want to help employees better work across those differences — to advance inclusion and belonging in their teams through policies, practices, products, and services that produce equitable outcomes. This funding validates our work and will help us deepen our ties with corporate workforces as well as expand to new functions and industries with context-specific learning journeys.”

In February 2021, Smith made history as one of the few Black women to raise $1 million or more in venture capital funding.

“When we raised the seed round, it was really to help onboard clients on to a new product that we were launching. And since that round, we’ve been able to build and launch the product. We have thousands of learners on the platform right now, going through our learning journeys,” Smith explained in a statement to AfroTech. “We have incredible clients, some of the largest companies in the world, and they’re all seeing growth across our competency. They’re seeing impact around their culture of equity and inclusion. And we really are excited about expanding and scaling our impact with our current partners, getting to partner with even more incredible companies who genuinely want to move the needle.”

Praxis Labs currently boasts a client roster of big names like eBay, Uber, Amazon, Google, Etsy, ServiceNow and Target. With this latest round of funding, Praxis Labs is focused on expanding their team and better serving their clients.

“Our immediate goal is hiring. We are hiring across the company. We have roles open in customer success, in sales, and engineering, and VR development, and design and product,” Smith told AfroTech. “We are a learning and development company, but we’re also a listening tool. So, in addition to helping employees grow and develop as conscious and inclusive leaders, we are also getting their feedback every time they come onto our platform, hearing what they want to see prioritized around equity and inclusion in their workplace, understanding why they feel competent, or comfortable intervening in the moment and giving feedback [or why they don’t]. And we’re able to share that insight at the aggregate level with our client partners.”

Smith is also excited about the diverse lineup of investors that Praxis Labs has attracted.

“What excites me about our partners and specifically our investors is the values alignment,” she said. “Everyone in our portfolio cares deeply about creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce and more equitable inclusive society. They’ve shown that not only in their support of us but in their other investments and in the work that they do.”