Making It Work: US online education platform for women moves HQ to Dublin

GenConnectU was launched in New York, but has set up a hub in Ireland and plans to hire ten people here

26th March, 2021
Making It Work: US online education platform for women moves HQ to Dublin
Nancy Spears, founder of GenConnectU.com. Picture: Bryan Meade

An edtech start-up founded in the US has established an Irish hub to make and market online career content for professional women here and abroad.

GenConnectU.com is the brainchild of Nancy Spears, an American businesswoman who launched the platform in New York in 2018.

GenConnectU employs 15 people in the US, and Spears plans to create ten jobs in Ireland having recently raised €500,000 from private investors here and from Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

Spears describes GenConnectU as an “online education platform for women”. It delivers courses in short-form video format on soft skills ranging from sales and leadership to broader life skills, such as mindfulness, health and wellbeing.

“We target a female audience. Our entire mission is to help move women into more senior roles in their careers and advance their lives overall,” Spears said.

GenConnectU.com sources course content from a roster of 3,000-plus experts around the world, according to Spears.

“We film courses with them, so we have a video library of about 10,000 short-form clips and over 100 courses,” she said.

“Eighty per cent of our course content is career-based and the rest focuses on health and wellness, because, I believe that we have to be balanced in order to make clear decisions and direct our lives in a productive way.”

GenConnectU has a distribution deal with LinkedIn, which gives the networking site’s premium subscribers access to course content under their monthly membership fee.

On GenConnectU.com, courses are priced from €49 to €150 for one hour or 90 minutes’ worth of learning content divided into three to six-minutes lessons.

Spears said the majority of the company’s customers are in the US, where a lot of the company’s traction comes from its LinkedIn partnership.

Its most popular courses on LinkedIn currently include Working with Purpose and Passion in the Corporate World presented by Sally Susman, executive vice-president of Pfizer, and Lessons in Enlightened Leadership, presented by Carolyn Everson, vice-president of global marketing solutions at Facebook.

“Our biggest market is still very much the US, but we’re starting to see a bit more traction every week elsewhere in the world – in Ireland, the UK, Europe and even down into Singapore and Australia,” Spears said.

The Florida-born entrepreneur relocated to Ireland in 2019 after a working holiday in Connemara followed by a trip to Dublin.

“I was blown away by the technology scene in the city. LinkedIn has a big presence in Ireland, as does Google and Facebook and there are quite a few edtech companies in the city as well,” Spears said.

“We made a strategic decision to reposition the company and set up an Irish entity, so now we’re headquartered here in Dublin, scaling back into the US, into Europe and even into Asia.”

Spears closed her €500,000 funding round in Ireland at the start of the year and already employs 15 people in the US.

“I’m on a mission now to get ten people hired here in Ireland over the next two years,” she said.

“We’ve made our first hire in Ireland in business development and we’re looking for someone to manage content. I want to bring that position from the US over to Ireland. We’re also in discussions with various production teams to start filming here.”

GenConnectU is a high-potential start-up client of Enterprise Ireland. “Silicon Valley can be so tough for investment,” Spears said.

“I’ve done so many of those meetings over there and we’ve been successful up to a point, but conversations with investors here have been, in some ways, much more palatable.

“There is just a lot more enthusiasm and optimism here. Right now, our big effort is reaching out to Irish women in leadership positions, whether they are C-suite or own their own businesses as entrepreneurs.

“The big push for the next quarter will be to film these women and distribute their wisdom back into the US and around the world.”

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