Praxis Labs—a Black-founded virtual reality-based diversity and inclusion learning platform designed to redefine work cultures—announced that it raised a $3.2 million seed round today to develop and expand the way clients train employees on and measure diversity and inclusion (D&I) through research-backed VR experiences.
Financing for the round was led by a diverse group of investors, including SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures and Firework VC.
This marks the official launch of the platform which has been in beta the past year with clients including eBay, Amazon, Google, Uber and Target. Elise Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We’re beyond thrilled to announce the official launch of Praxis Labs and introduce our impactful learning platform to companies of all shapes and sizes. Given the current climate and the deep divisions apparent in society, we believe that building empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives, as well as a knowledge of how to intervene in the moment, is vital to taking steps toward increasing inclusion and belonging in the workplace. We believe our platform provides a strong foundation from which employees can make their workplaces—and ultimately, society—more equitable.”
She added: “We’re so thankful for our initial clients – eBay, Amazon, Google, Target and Uber – who have been with us since the beginning as we’ve tested and iterated on the learning experience, and to our incredible group of diverse investors – including SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures and Firework VC – who have provided us with the partnership and funding needed to have the impact we all care so much about.”
Shu Nyatta, Managing Partner of the SB Opportunity Fund and co-lead of the SoftBank Latin America Fund, said, “Praxis Labs is combining two powerful secular themes in a very unique way. The first theme is discrimination and equity, which should be front and center for all companies today. The second theme is immersive learning technology, which is uniquely suited to this particular problem. Praxis Labs was the Opportunity Fund’s first investment, and Elise and Heather couldn’t be better representatives of what we’re all about. We’re very excited to be their partner as they build a company for this important moment in history.”
This is also a big deal for Smith, who becomes one of 93 Black women to have raised more than $1 million for a venture-backed business as of August 2020. Only about 1% of VC funding goes to Black startup founders, meaning she just became the latest addition to one of tech’s most exclusive clubs.