Here’s an exclusive look at the pitch memo former Y Combinator startup Arist used to raise $12 million to simplify workplace training

Arist Cofounders
  • Arist is an edtech startup that lets businesses run training courses for staff via text message. 
  • Employees across the world who only have access to phones, not just laptops, can do the trainings.
  • Arist was part of Y Combinator’s Spring 2020 class and now has raised $12 million in new funds.

According to Allied Market Research, corporate training for employees is a $300 billion industry. Arist is an early-stage startup that’s trying to tackle this massive industry and change how companies run corporate-business trainings. Instead of hours-long video presentations completed via a computer, the company builds mobile software that runs five- or ten-minute “micro-lessons” by quizzing employees with short questions via text message, WhatsApp, Slack, or Microsoft Teams. The goal is for a company’s employees to engage with deeper, less disruptive learning during the work day. 

Now, Arist has raised a $12 million Series A round that PeakSpan led — with Rainfall Ventures also participating — to expand its training program to Fortune 500 companies nationwide, the company exclusively told Insider.

Michael Ioffe, Maxine Anderson, and Ryan Laverty — the cofounders — initially created Arist to help students in war zones continue their schoolwork on mobile phones. Ioffe told Insider that while he first was concerned with how to make learning accessible to people who don’t have full-time access to the internet, he realized there was a much larger opportunity to help everyone learn through mobile devices. 

“People are really busy, so if you’re a single mother with multiple jobs, for example, you don’t have time to learn in a class, but almost everybody has access to phone, so we could deliver learning to people where they are,” Ioffe said.

Arist currently partners with Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and BP to offer its once-a-day corporate lessons, but also offers lessons with nonprofits and universities like Report for America and the University of Washington. Two of Arist’s most popular courses include career development and diversity, equity, and inclusion training. Arist’s closest competitors are learning apps like Connecteam or quiz apps like SurveyMonkey, but Ioffe quickly noted that those generally face low adoption and engagement and aren’t able to get the same learning outcomes that Arist does. 

Arist students average a 20% increase in learning retention compared to a traditional training course, Ioffe said. These results helped Arist get accepted into Y Combinator’s Spring 2020 cohort and helped the cofounders meet investors like the team at PeakSpan Capital, who liked that the company used a pitch memo in lieu of a traditional pitch deck.

“We felt like a memo could help us tell our story and impact more, and it’s also consistent with how we operate internally, since Arist is fully remote and most internal decision making is memo-driven,” Ioffe said. 

Check out Arist’s redacted pitch memo that raised $12 million in funding for micro trainings: 

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