Three Austin tech startups combine to raise $24 million for growth

Three Austin-based startups — one focused on cybersecurity and two on remote education offerings — have combined to raise $24 million funding deals this week.  

Living Security, a startup focused on cybersecurity awareness training and risk management, raised $14 million, while software startup Acadeum and online student engagement platform Upswing each raised $5 million. 

Living Security makes a cybersecurity training platform and is developing a human risk management tool that uses data to help companies understand and spot security vulnerabilities and predict cyberattacks. The company, which started in 2017, said it plans to use the funding to continue its expansion beyond training and continue developing its platform. 

The round was led by Updata Partners and also included investment from Silverton Partners, Active Capital, Rain Capital and SaaS Venture Partners. 

Living Security CEO Ashley Rose said the company's goal is to train people to be assets, not risks, in defending against cyber attacks. 

"During the last three years, Living Security revolutionized security awareness training programs that were boring, ineffective and implemented just to meet minimal compliance requirements," Rose said in a written statement. "Now, we are leading the charge to use behavioral data and analytics to measure and manage human risk. At the same time, we can deliver powerful insights to senior leaders and board members, and provide predictive interventions to employees."

The funding builds on $5 million Living Security raised last year. The company also tripled its employee headcount last year. 

More funding for Acadeum

Software startup Acadeum, which makes an education platform for colleges and universities, raised $5 million in its latest funding round. 

The startup, which was founded in 2016, makes a platform designed to enable college students to access college courses from hundreds of colleges and universities. The platform, which has more than 40,000 online courses, is designed to let participating schools expand their course offerings and help students stay on track or catch up on courses. 

Investors in the round included Rethink Education, Socratic Ventures, Lumina Foundation and LearnStart.  The investment follows a $7 million January funding round for the company.  In the past year, Acadeum said it has begun to offer a consortium to help students catch up on courses, as remote learning and the pandemic impacted schools and access.   

Josh Pierce, CEO and co-founder of Acadeum, said the investment shows the power of collaboration between colleges and the potential to close gaps to access. 

"This year has seen unprecedented disruption to higher education, as the pandemic exposed gaps in access to courses and accelerated long-term paradigm shifts to high-quality online learning and interoperable pathways through multiple institutions," Pierce said.

Upswing looks for growth

Another startup focused on students, Upswing, also raised $5 million this week to continue its growth.  

The company makes a platform that includes student support services and mental health and wellness offerings. The startup is partnered with almost 70 colleges and is primarily focused on nontraditional and diverse populations, especially in rural communities. 

The round was led led by Imaginable Futures and JP Morgan Chase, and also saw investment from Bonsal Capital, the Agave Fund, Substain VC, Impact America Fund and Lumina Foundation. 

The platform offers academic support, including online advising and tutoring and nonacademic mental health resources to more than 500,000 students. It includes a virtual assistant, Ana, to make the platform easier to navigate and more accessible. 

Melvin Hines, co-founder and CEO of Upswing, said the investment will help the startup add to its engagement system and help the company add employees, systems and resources. 

“Our current platform provides academic and non-academic support to students. This investment will propel our work to seamlessly integrate our modules while also creating integrations with student information systems, allowing us to demonstrate the individual impact of using Upswing, as well as the impact across segments or demographics,” Hine said in a written statement.