Koru's mission: help college grads find jobs, help companies find talent




Posted on May 5, 2014 at 6:57 AM

Updated Monday, May 5 at 5:54 PM

If you're about to graduate, we don't mean to rain on your commencement exercise parade, but consider this: more than 50 percent of all recent college grads are either unemployed or underemployed.

That's the problem that Koru hopes to solve.

The Seattle-based startup company is another in a growing pool of education-related companies popping up in the Puget Sound region. Koru's goal is to provide real-world, relevant skills to those about to graduate, and then hook those job candidates up with high-growth Seattle companies such as Zulily, REI and Trupanion.

The company, led by former Onvia co-founder Kristen Hamilton, has deals with 13 colleges across the country. Those taking part in the Koru programs pay $2,750, and scholarships are available.

Koru gets paid if its program graduates are hired by its partner companies, and Hamilton says that's starting to happen with its first batch of program attendees, largely because of the training gaps that Koru is able to fill in for graduates.

"We're teaching them things like how you build Google analytics campaigns, or how to do retail math in Excel," she said. 'These are very specific skills that are really relevant to the employers we partner with, but they (the graduates) really don't get in their education in college."

Arizona State University graduate Michael Karlik agrees. He said he gained enough valuable experience in Koru's program to get the attention of Zulily, which recently hired him.

"Walking into a boardroom in front of executives and being able to present to them, it's a nerve-wracking experience," Karlik said. "But once you go through that - and it's something you're not going to learn in school or have the opportunity to do in school - it's a very confident feeling that you have."

Hillary Spanjer is closing in on her first month working at Trupanion. The Koru graduate got her diploma from Eastern Washington University in December 2013. "When you go to Koru, they're putting you in real-life situations. They're putting you in the room with executives and you present to them. They're telling you how you need to be presenting yourself and how you need to be presenting information or studies or research."

Monday is the deadline for Koru's June program. More information is available at www.joinkoru.com.

The company has raised more than $4 million in initial funding and is looking to expand to San Francisco in September. It also has hired a former Amazon executive to help with securing new partnerships with other high-growth companies.