Nana nabs $6M for an online academy and marketplace dedicated to appliance repair – TechCrunch

Much of the focus in online education – and let’s face it, education as a whole – has been on knowledge worker professional development, training for K-12, and how best to get affordable, engaging higher education for students and above can also be offered. But what may be a sign of the times, today a startup focused on e-learning and the subsequent job market for an entirely different end of the spectrum – home services – is announcing some funding to seriously grow its business.

Nana, who runs a free academy that teaches people how to fix equipment, and then gives students the opportunity to become part of their own market to connect with people in need of repairs – has $ 6 million collected.

The seed round is led by Shripriya Mahesh from Spero Ventures; Next Play Ventures (ex-LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s new fund, Lachy Groom, Scott Belsky, Geoff Donaker from Burst Capital and Michael Staton from Learn Capital also attend.

Nana has now raised $ 10.7 million, with past backers like Alpha Bridge Ventures, Bob Lee, and the Uber Syndicate, an investment vehicle designed to help Uber alums start new ventures. Founder and CEO David Zamir isn’t actually an Uber alum, but one of his first employees, VP of Engineering Oliver Nicholas, is an early Uber engineer, and the company has found a lot of traction from Uber drivers this year as well Many had found working out the chilling effect the pandemic had on ridesharing.

Nana – full name Nana Technologies (and not to be confused with Nana Technology, technology for older adults) – is partly a work / future game, partly an educational game, partly a tech / IoT game and partly an ecological game. in the eyes of Zamir, who trained as an equipment repairman himself and ran his own successful business in the Bay Area before turning it into a training platform and marketplace.

“There is 5.9 million tons of municipal waste [which includes lots of electronics like washing machines, blenders and everything in between] in the US, “he said in an interview,” and only 50% of it can be recycled. We’re in a vicious cycle with devices, and in part this is because not enough people have the knowledge to fix it. But what if you had the liquidity? We talk about the creation of jobs, but also about protecting the environment. “

Nana’s proposal starts with free lessons on how to fix a range of devices – currently dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, ovens, washers, and dryers – and their typical breakdown / performance issues for anyone who wants to know how to fix them. These courses are available to anyone – someone who just wants to learn how to fix a machine, but more likely someone who wants to learn a skill and make money from it.

Once you’ve completed and passed a course – currently removed – you have the option (but not a requirement) to register on the Nana platform to become a repair person who takes orders through that course to get orders for remediation to get this particular problem. Nana already has partnerships with major appliance and warranty companies including GE, Miele, Samsung, Assurant and Cinch and First American Home Warranty, that’s how it gets most of its work, but also accepts direct requests from consumers for repairs to dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, ovens, washers, and dryers.

Over time, Zamir said, there are plans not only to take on jobs and dispatch technicians to fix the problems in an Uber-style shipping service, but also to expand it to the next-generation devices that are being used today to build IoT -Diagnostic monitoring and support in integrating these devices into networked households. In addition to repairing equipment (which is still the main business), it seems to be slowly expanding to other household services as well.

Nana has registered hundreds of technicians in 12 markets in the U.S. to date and expects to expand to 20 markets by the end of 2021.

Nana has an unlikely founding story that shows how much the technology world is still about hectic pace and finding opportunities on the sidelines.

Founder and CEO David Zamir is from Israel, but unlike many other transplants you may experience from there into the tech world of the Bay Area, he’s not a technician with any education, training, or work experience. He used to run clothing stores in Tel Aviv and vaguely liked the idea of ​​someday getting involved in a tech company – Israel likes to call itself a “startup nation” so the mistake must bite even those who don’t study computers, science or technology – but he does didn’t know what to do or where to start.

“The clothing store didn’t make a lot of money,” he said. After a while, Zamir and his American wife decided to move to the USA and try their luck there.

While originally living on the east coast near her family and wondering what type of work to do, Zamir spoke to a friend in Toronto who worked as an independent dealer repairing equipment, and the friend suggested this at least as an option ago for a while.

“So I got on a plane to tail my friend,” he recalled. “The light bulb went out. I thought I should do this in San Francisco, “which is where he somehow wanted to get into the tech world. “I thought I would start repairing equipment while figuring out how to find my way into technology.”

That was of course more than a temporary income gap. After Zamir found his business was on the rise, he realized that technology would be the way to grow it.

In part, he was helped build the idea and business through his strength. Josh Elman, the famous tech investor, complained about a broken dryer back in April and asked the Twitter hive mind if it should get a new one or go to the trouble of fixing it. The question was brought to Zamir’s attention by someone who linked Elman to one of Nana’s online teaching technicians. Twelve hours later, Elman’s dryer (by Elman) was diagnosed on the way to repair, and Elman was hired as a consultant to the company.

Move fast and fix things

In the world of technology, it’s about building new things and solving problems, with “breaking” being more a synonym for disruption (= “good”) and fearlessness (see: Facebook’s old mantra to its early co-workers to act quickly and breaking things). Behind this, however, there is an interesting separation between the technical version of “broken” and objects that are actually “broken” in the real world.

Many of us these days find it natural to use apps and other digital interfaces, but most of us would have no idea how to fix or work with much more basic electronic systems. And most of us don’t want to either. Most of the time, we give it up, decide it’s not worth fixing, and hit Amazon et al. to get a new shiny object.

On a larger scale, this is actually a big problem.

Electronics can be recycled, but in reality only about half of the materials can be meaningfully reused. Nana estimates the device repair market is a $ 4 billion opportunity. In the USA around 80 million devices have to be serviced annually. However, there are currently only around 31,000 trained technicians on the market. Nana estimates that by 2025 an additional 28,000 new technicians will be needed to meet the demand for growing numbers.

At the same time, the switch to automation in many skilled trades is leading to people becoming unemployed: According to estimates by the Brookings Institution, around 30 million people will lose their jobs in the coming years.

The idea is that a platform like Nana can help some of these people fill the void for equipment technicians while also extending the life of people’s equipment in a less painful way – by dumping less material in landfills – while on At the same time, knowledge is expanded for everyone who takes care of it.

Zamir said Nana was named after his mother, who David raised a single parent after his father’s death, a clue to work hard and be practical.

This sentimentality also seems to motivate him to a greater extent: Zamir himself is a guy with a lot of heart and emotions who flows into the concept of his startup. When I told him an anecdote about how our dishwasher failed earlier this year, and both a manufacturer’s customer service representative (Siemens) and a separate repair person advised me to replace it. He was visibly excited about our video call, like the subject was something political or a lot more serious than a story about a dishwasher.

“I’m not a supporter of what they told you,” he said in an angry voice. “It really annoys me.” (I calmed him down a bit, I think, when I told him that I uninstalled the broken dishwasher myself and installed the new one myself because COVID.)

Zamir said there are no plans to charge fees for its academy courses or get people to sign up with Nana to work once they take the courses. The fact that there are lots of inbound jobs attracts enough revenue – between 40% and 60% of those who take courses stay at work in face-to-face tuition, and right now the online numbers are between 15% and 35% .

“It’s still early,” he said, “but we find the acceptance impressive … Most of them want to participate in the market.” He says there are other call-out services they could register with, but the technology Nana has developed makes the system more efficient, and that means better returns.

All of this played well with those who have become Nana’s investors. People like Jeff Weiner – who led the company to acquire Lynda during his time as CEO of LinkedIn As part of a greater emphasis on the importance of education and training, you see the opportunity and need to provide an equivalent platform not only for knowledge workers but also for those who have more manual jobs.

“We are excited about Nana’s vision, training, access and the opportunity to do rewarding and satisfying work while filling a critical void in our economy,” said Shripriya Mahesh of Spero Ventures in a statement. “Nana has taken a new, scalable approach to giving people the agency, tools and support systems they need to build new skills and track job fulfillment.”

The round ended up being oversubscribed and Nana shouldn’t find it too difficult to raise again if she sticks to her plan and the market continues to grow as it is. That doesn’t seem to be Zamir’s motivation, however.

“We think it’s super important to build Nana for the people,” he said.

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