Georgia work, sales efforts set stage for more contracts

Skills assessment and career planning company YouScience has raised $2.1 million from a small group of investors and is planning to raise another $1.6 million to grow its business across the country.

Nashville-based YouScience last year filed papers to raise $2.5 million to go with the $14 million of funding it had already secured to develop and launch its online talent assessment tool. CEO Philip Hardin said he decided to expand that round to $3.75 million rather than launch a new one to keep things simple and build on the momentum from an 11,000-student project in Georgia that scored well on a number in measured outlined by state officials.

The company’s equity raise has so far involved five investors; Hardin said John Ingram, Anna Ball of the Illinois-based Ball Foundation (a major partner in the development of the assessments) and he himself are the company’s three largest shareholders.

Hardin said four-year-old YouScience is making a mark by more better defining what students — the Georgia project focused on 10th- and 11th-graders and showed its effectiveness across cultural and socioeconomic groups — actually do well so that they can more efficiently find a place in the workforce.

“Older interest tools have been misdirecting students away from the economy and from their aptitudes,” Hardin said. “They’ll ask kids if they want to be a mechanic, work in a research lab or write plays — but students haven’t had any contact with those activities. They don’t have the proper perspective.”

Hardin said YouScience is making solid progress toward contracts in eight to 10 states and has been connecting with more high school and university counselors through an effort led by Senior Vice President of Marketing Armando Garza, who came aboard last June. That will continue going forward.

“And we still need to push forward on product development,” Hardin added. “Some of it is about function, some of it is about usability and some if it is focused on integration with state portals.”