Brisbane edtech unicorn Go1 wins Scaleup of The Year 2023

Just months after its valuation surpassed A$3 billion, Brisbane workplace learning platform Go1 has raced away with the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards’ Scaleup of The Year award, presented by AWS Startups.

Taking out one of the top trophies from the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards gala event in Sydney, Go1 was voted Scaleup of The Year, ahead of finalists, Melbourne high-speed 3D metal printing innovators SPEE3D and fast-growing fintech Shift.

Judged by industry leaders across Australia’s startup ecosystem, Go1 was chosen for its game-changing impact across eLearning on a global scale. More than eight million people have taken their courses for workplace learning and development in what Go1 dubs ‘the world’s most comprehensive online library of learning resources’.

Speaking to Startup Daily after accepting the award on behalf of the company, Mark Dick, Head of Sales at Go1, said the business has met the market where it’s at.

“There’s just an opportunity now within the learning space. It’s a hot topic,” he said.

“We have the challenges of the workforce with regards to reskilling and upskilling to cater for the future of work for organisations. Our solution today helps organisations meet those needs and increasing demands.”

Co-founded by school friends Andrew Barnes, Vu Tran, Chris Hood and Chris Eigeland in a garage in Brisbane, the edtech unicorn got its big break in 2015 when their web development company was accepted to the American tech Y-Combinator accelerator.

Go1’s software was quickly snapped up as online learning exploded throughout the pandemic. Integrating with HR platforms and workplace apps, the tech is now widely used to help with employee engagement (and as a result, staff retention and productivity), as well as addressing the skills gap.

aws and go1

Award presenter John Kearney, Head of Startups AWS, ANZ, giving the Scaleup of The Year award to Go1, accepted by Mark Dick, Head of Sales. Image: Startup Daily.

On being voted Scaleup of The Year, Dick said: “I think it’s due to the growth that we’ve managed to achieve as an organisation over the last few years, amid the challenging backdrop of the economy. We’ve been very privileged that our customers, our internal team and the rest of learning ecosystem has helped us grow even through those challenging times.”

The edtech scaleup’s investor base includes M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures, AirTree and SEEK.

In June 2022, Go1’s US$100 million (AUD $154 million) raise placed the company’s valuation to more than US$2 billion (A$2.86 billion at exchange rates at the time), having become a ‘unicorn’ (worth $1bn) with a Softbank-led Series D raise in mid 2021.

After acquiring UK content curation startup Anders Pink at the start of 2023, Go1 topped up the capital reserves again in May with an undisclosed round backed by Insight Partners, alongside acquiring German learning app Blinkist.

With that kind of fuel in the tank, they’re not short on the ‘think big’ mentality.

“We hope to reach one billion learners,” Mark Dick said.

“Our mission is to unlock people’s positive potential through a love of learning. If we can unlock a billion learners’ full potential, then hopefully one day we can actually have a positive impact on the world.”

It’s fair to say they’re well on their way, in many places around the world. Their largest market is currently North America, followed by Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

Reflecting that, Go1’s workforce has soared past 1000 employees across 13 offices including the United States, South Africa, Vietnam, the UK and Malaysia.

Bringing together content curated by 250 content providers, another major element of Go1’s scaleup success has been its strategic acquisitions and partnerships. Go1 has indicated that its will enhance the use of AI in Blinkist’s text summarisation process for better learning.

Its range of other content providers includes Thrive, Skillsoft, Pluralsight and Harvard Business Publishing.

They’ve also been working with the Australian, Malaysian and Singaporean governments to help upskill citizens in key areas of social change. A recent example is Go1’s eLearning program with social enterprise Challenge DV and the Queensland Government to educate public sector employees on domestic and family violence. More than 85,000 Queensland Government employees enrolled in the training between 2021 and 2022.

Congratulations to the Go1 team, and the Australian scaleups looking to join them next on the unicorn list.

See the full list of 2023 Startup Daily Awards winners here.

GO1, Hysata, LaunchVic’s Kate Cornick, Q-CTRL and Earlywork win at the Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards

This article is brought to you by Startup Daily, with the support of AWS Startups.

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