Praxis Labs Launches Virtual Reality-Based Diversity and Inclusion Learning Platform
Blue-Chip Clients Include eBay, Amazon, Google and Uber
Raises $3.2 Million in Seed Round from Diverse Investor Group, Including SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Firework VC and 20|20 Fund
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Elise Smith Becomes One of 93 Black Women to Have Raised More Than $1 Million for a Venture-Backed Business1 2
VR Learning Builds Empathy for and Understanding of Experience of Other People in Innovative and Efficacious D&I Training
Praxis Labs announced the launch of its virtual reality-based (VR) diversity and inclusion (D&I) learning platform and flagship curriculum, Pivotal Experiences, designed to redefine work cultures, develop inclusive leaders and drive sustainable change for individuals and organizations. Praxis Labs comes to market following its beta testing phase over the past year with clients including eBay, Amazon, Google and Uber.
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Praxis Labs is changing the way clients train employees on and measure D&I through research-backed VR experiences. The platform simulates first-hand incidents of bias and discrimination in the workplace from the perspective of either an employee who encounters bias or discrimination firsthand, or of a co-worker who is complicit in the encounter. Unlike traditional, static one-way diversity training programs, Praxis Labs’ platform enables employees to practice responding in the moment, reflect on the incidents and provide anonymous feedback on their experience of inclusion in their workplace. Through the aggregate data collected from each participating employee, Praxis Labs delivers clients actionable insights into equity and inclusion at their company, as well as research-backed interventions to create positive changes to their organization that increase equity and foster a greater sense of belonging. Praxis Labs also offers employees an easy to use dashboard where they can set commitments to practice behaviors or interventions and which allows them to revisit certain incidents and review their progress on the virtual platform to practice being a conscious leader.
In conjunction with its launch, Praxis Labs today also announced that it has raised $3.2 million in seed funding from a diverse group of investors, including SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Firework VC and 20|20 Fund. With this funding round, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Elise Smith becomes one of 93 Black women to have raised more than $1 million for a venture-backed business.1 2 The capital raised will primarily be used for the continued development and scaling of Praxis Labs’ learning experiences and platform.
Elise Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We’re beyond thrilled to announce the official launch of Praxis Labs and introduce our impactful learning platform to companies of all shapes and sizes. Given the current climate and the deep divisions apparent in society, we believe that building empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives, as well as the knowledge of how to intervene in the moment, is vital to taking steps toward increasing inclusion and belonging in the workplace. We believe our platform provides a strong foundation from which employees can make their workplaces – and ultimately, society – more equitable.”
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Ms. Smith continued, “We’re so thankful for our initial clients – eBay, Amazon, Google and Uber – who have been with us since the beginning as we’ve tested and iterated on the learning experience, and to our incredible group of diverse investors – including SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Firework VC and 20|20 Fund – who have provided us with the partnership and funding needed to have the impact we all care so much about.”
Heather Shen, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, said, “Unlike traditional workplace D&I training platforms, we are leveraging VR to actually put employees in real-life situations and allow them to experience and react to incidents through the intersectional identities across race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, body size, religion, age and power in the organization. Our leading technology, immersive experiences and actionable insights at the individual and organizational level are what truly set Praxis Labs apart.”
Shu Nyatta, Managing Partner of the SB Opportunity Fund and co-lead of the SoftBank Latin America Fund, said, “Praxis Labs is combining two powerful secular themes in a unique way. The first theme is discrimination and equity, which should be front and center for all companies today. The second theme is immersive learning technology, which is uniquely suited to this particular problem. Praxis Labs was the Opportunity Fund’s first investment, and Elise and Heather couldn’t be better representatives of what we’re all about. We’re very excited to be their partner as they build a company for this important moment in history.”
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