Chronus Raises $78M in Funding to Grow Its Mentoring Platform

The Seattle company plans to use the new funding to invest in its go-to-market strategy and hiring more people.

Written by Gordon Gottsegen
Published on Aug. 04, 2021
Chronus Raises $78M in Funding to Grow Its Mentoring Platform
Chronus CEO Seena Mortazavi talking to coworker
Chronus CEO Seena Mortazavi (right) | Photo: Chronus

If your job isn’t bringing the same satisfaction it used to, you’re not alone. Plenty of people have been talking about what’s being called “The Great Resignation” in which more than 90 percent of workers are considering leaving their jobs. One Prudential survey found that, among the respondents planning to leave their jobs, 80 percent of them said they were moving on to seek new job growth.

New job growth can come from a lot of different sources: hard work, luck, having the right network, changing priorities, etc. But one way to fast-track growth is through mentoring.

“Mentoring helps a lot of folks that need the kind of support to accelerate in their careers,” Chronus CEO Seena Mortazavi told Built In. “And it does so in a way that helps level the playing field. Some people who may not have the same opportunities as others really thrive by finding the right mentor.”

Seattle company Chronus was started in 2007 by former Microsoft employees who believed that the mentoring they received at the company was instrumental to their career trajectory. But in 2007, a lot of corporate mentoring was done manually, and kept track of using things like written notes and spreadsheets. Chronus’ founders believed that they could create a tech platform to help enterprise companies run their mentoring programs and connect mentors and mentees in a more intentional way.

Over a decade later, the need for proper mentoring is stronger than ever, and Chronus hopes to capitalize on this demand. On Wednesday, the company announced that it received a $78 million growth investment from Level Equity. This is the first time the company has raised VC funding.

Chronus’ platform helps manage different parts of the mentorship journey. It helps large corporations create mentorship programs and helps them scale. It uses advanced algorithms and AI to match mentees to the right mentors. It helps guide mentors and mentees through the process by giving them a checklist of topics and helping schedule meetings. It also measures key statistics to see if the mentorship program is having a positive effect and gives the company suggestions to grow its mentorship program.

Some of the most recognizable companies use Chronus, including Uber, MetLife and four out of the five companies in FAANG. But Chronus’ mentorship software isn’t only used by corporations, it’s also used by organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Mentoring has always been an important aspect of human development, but that need has become more obvious over the past year.

“Even before the pandemic, we had what they called the loneliness epidemic,” Mortazavi said. “Everyone was feeling very isolated, and from a societal perspective, I think our mental state was not in a great place.”

Of course, this loneliness epidemic was worsened by the pandemic, when social interaction — in both our work and personal lives — was taken away.

“Especially in the last year and a half, we’re just craving human connections. Those people that you chat with at the bus stop, or at the water cooler at work, those conversations just aren’t happening anymore,” Mortazavi added.

Chronus had prepared its platform for virtual mentoring before the pandemic, with its own mobile app and a built-in video conferencing tool already set to go. For that reason, Mortazavi said that Chronus customers were grateful for its software when they had to transition to working remotely.

Last year also saw the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and racial justice protests. This caused countless companies to pledge to do better with their diversity and inclusion efforts, but many didn’t know where to start.

It turns out proper mentorship from a diverse group of individuals is also a good way to ensure the growth of diverse candidates in the workplace.

“Mentoring really helps make a difference in particularly for diverse employees,” Mortazavi told Built In. “Because what we’ve seen is that companies can turn into a club of sorts. If you leave mentoring for people to do on their own, what ends up happening is people at the top naturally gravitate to people like them. And so you end up having a homogenous group of leaders. If you’re a diverse employee, you may miss out on that opportunity if you don’t have a mentor who can help break that cycle.”

He continued, “Because we can track data, we can show how mentoring has actually diversified folks. People that get mentors have higher retention rates, higher promotion rates, and if you overlay a diversity lens to it, you can really back up these claims with data analytics. That’s been incredibly powerful to further justify why you need a formal mentoring program to meet these key DEI goals that organizations are so focused on, but haven’t been able to move the needle on.”

The need for better DEI tools in the workplace and feelings of social isolation acted as tailwinds for Chronus. Mortazavi recalls that the business took a hit — as did most businesses — in Q2 2020, when the pandemic was just getting started. But Q3 2020 ended up being a record quarter for the company, and Q4 2020 was still better.

This is why Chronus finally chose to pursue growth investment. The company mostly got by through word-of-mouth, but with this new funding, it plans to ramp up its go-to-market strategy to capture surging demand. It also wants to grow the company by funding a hiring push, adding new positions for jobs across the board. This includes roles in engineering, sales, marketing, customer success, HR and more.

“We are definitely growing. We were hiring aggressively before. And we’re going to hire even more aggressively going forward,” Mortazavi told Built In.

All this growth is to help companies prioritize the value of mentoring. Because once companies do, the impact will be felt in the careers of countless individuals.

“What we’re seeing is that there is an opportunity to continue to innovate and invest in our thought leadership in a much greater way,” Mortazavi said. “And part of that is preparing the industry for future-ready mentoring — because the way we’ve done traditional mentoring is not going to work with the way things are in the future.”

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