The company well-known by university students and professionals for its unique approach to networking and mentorship is breaking new ground. The Waterloo alumni-founded company 10KC takes in $75 million investment to expand its offerings.
10KC, also known as Ten Thousand Coffees, is a mainstay for organizations and universities throughout Canada, matching employees and students with networking opportunities that suit their career goals. 10KC’s products have benefited a generation of young professionals as they enter the workforce and look to connect with prospective mentors.
After securing a recent round of major investment, the company is expanding a series of product offerings for what they call their All Talent Experience Solutions, which help to fill the gap in mentorship, employee connectivity and skill development that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed in many organizations.
10KC’s talent solutions are already being used by Nike, GE, IBM and RBC. Now, a $75 million CAD investment from Five Elms Capital is the first institutional raise since the company’s formation in 2014.
The company’s co-founders, Dave Wilkin (BSc ‘11) and Elliott Garcea (BASc ‘11), have deep connections with Waterloo. The pair met at the University and its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship helped set them on their path.
“I chose Waterloo because of the co-op program, which was a guaranteed way to get networks, mentors and career exposure,” says Wilkin. “At Waterloo is where the hypothesis was proven that if you have networks and mentors, opportunity happens. But it also made me realize not everyone got the same experience, and that was a motivation for 10KC.”
When the company launched in 2014, Wilkin and Garcea set out to address the widespread need for digital mentorship and networking programs. They quickly realized that their solution could work for companies in almost any sector and there was an opportunity to expand the offerings and think big.
In a nutshell, the service uses a smart-matching algorithm to connect people with other professionals, based on shared interests or other characteristics. The program then suggests a connection for the two, who then set up a meeting. It is a way to build and maintain professional networks and mentoring in a formalized yet approachable setting.
“Dave and I experienced the power of UWaterloo’s entrepreneurial culture firsthand,” Garcea says. “That power was driven by personal connections and social capital between the students, alumni and staff of the school. We quickly learned that to tap into that same innovation potential at other institutions we needed to recreate the growth of professional connection on a scale that other products in the market were failing to deliver. 10KC’s product innovations around smart matching and professional network optimization make purposeful human connection amazingly easy and powerful.”
The expanded employee connectivity offerings and skill development solutions are already having an impact in a work world in which employee engagement has declined over the course of the pandemic. 10KC is now well-positioned to continue its meteoric rise and make an even bigger difference for students and professionals seeking to build networks and find mentors.
Students and alumni can learn more by joining the University of Waterloo’s 10KC network or checking out all the product offerings on the 10KC website.