Rising Team closes $8M funding round with plans to deepen AI investment

The company plans to roll out a personalized leadership coach that draws on proprietary data from team engagement sessions, founder and CEO Jennifer Dulski says.
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Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

Rising Team, a maker of team development software, announced an $8 million Series A funding round on June 6. The company said the funding will go in part toward incorporating AI technology into the platform, including the launch of an AI-powered leadership coach in the coming months.

The round was led by Zeal Capital Partners, a Washington, DC-based venture capital firm focused on investing in “diverse management teams.” Previous investors including Peterson Ventures, Roble Ventures, and Female Founders Fund also participated. Rising Team’s last funding round, completed in October 2022, drew $3 million worth of investments on a valuation of $11 million.

Rising Team’s origins. Founder and CEO Jennifer Dulski launched the company in 2020 after working at a number of big tech companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Facebook (now Meta), as well as petition platform site, where she was president and COO.

At these companies, Dulski said she noticed engagement was key to team success, but there was a dearth of tools available to managers trying to cultivate it. Typical offerings focused on building engagement—such as learning management systems or off-site events—are ill-suited to support managers, Dulski suggested, particularly in a hybrid or virtual environment. A recent Gallup report found engagement among US employees dropped to 30% in Q1 2024, the lowest level since 2013.

“I know the feeling of getting your pulse scores back and seeing a gap there and feeling at a loss,” Dulski said, referring to the scores often used to measure employee engagement. “Rising Team is essentially the tool I wish I had had as a leader of teams for my whole career.”

Rising Team offers leadership kits that focus on areas like “psychological safety,” “appreciation,” and “natural talents.” The sessions range from 10 minutes to two hours, and are intended to be facilitated by a manager and completed together as a team. By putting managers in charge of the sessions, they “learn the content better, because they are actively practicing it and teaching it to others,” Dulski said.

The company counts firms like Google and Weight Watchers as customers. Dulski said Rising Team typically suggests teams complete their sessions a few times a quarter; in doing so, the company promises improved engagement scores, with employees reporting more trust in and connection with their team, as well as a belief their manager creates a safe environment, according to a document shared by the company.

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Embracing AI. With this new round of funding, Rising Team plans to hire new team members (it currently employs 14 people full-time) and expand its market presence, as well as lean into AI.

The launch of large language models like ChatGPT and Gemini prompted the company to build aRTi, a personalized AI leadership coach that Rising Team plans to roll out this summer. The tool draws upon data collected during Rising Team sessions to help employees offer “hyper-personalized” feedback to one another, Dulski said. A teammate might share, for example, that they prefer to work on two to three things at a time, or take outdoor breaks in the middle of the day. Such information can in turn advise a manager on how best to help this employee cope with burnout. “The AI gives us the perfect 24/7 memory of everything our team has ever told us, which makes us much better at supporting them,” she added.

Dulski said Rising Team built the AI tool “on top of various LLMs,” incorporating the company’s own proprietary data coming out of team sessions. The data is only available to teammates who have consented to share their information with one another, and Dulski said employees can opt out of responding to questions if they wish to remain private. To ensure privacy, “we’re very clear before we ask them any questions which answers will be shared with their team and which won’t,” she said.

Other HR tech firms are also exploring ways to incorporate AI into employee engagement, HR Brew has previously reported. People management platform Lattice launched new AI tools this spring that use “generative AI to summarize comments from employee engagement surveys for people pros,” as well as offer key takeaways from peer reviews for managers.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.