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About Handshake: discover our business model and why we are trusted by over 1500 universities worldwide

About Handshake: discover our business model and why we are trusted by over 1500 universities worldwide

Learn all about Handshake, our mission, our business model, how Handshake works with university partners around the world, and the growth of our global team.

Since our 2014 founding, our network of university and employer partners—and the impact for students— has grown exponentially. Today, Handshake is trusted by 1,500+ educational institutions worldwide, with a dedicated team of 750+ employees including teams across Germany, France and the UK, committed to democratising career opportunity for all students and alumni—no experience, connections, or luck required.

Working in partnership with over 1500 educational institutions

Before Handshake was founded, Handshake's founders, Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen, and Scott Ringwelski, went on a cross country road trip to meet with as many universities as possible to understand their unique needs and the challenges students face when starting their career. It was evident that career services were a catalyst for student success, yet the technology they used daily had been consistently under invested in. Leading to outdated and isolated systems that impeded their work with students and employers, instead of amplifying it.

This initial journey underscored Handshake's commitment to prioritise partnering with universities. Handshake works alongside universities and careers professionals, blending our technological expertise with their specialist knowledge and deep understanding, to deliver innovative solutions tailored to their unique requirements and the rapidly evolving needs of students and employers. We provide universities with an easily curated network to amplify their team's expertise and foster career communities that enable direct engagement between students, recruiters, career advisors, and alumni to support students throughout their career journey.

All of our university partners benefit from the support of a dedicated Relationship Manager, many with backgrounds in careers, recruitment and education. These Relationship Managers invest significant time understanding each institution's needs, spending time onsite and in meetings with university staff members, working in partnership with teams to tailor Handshake to deliver maximum impact on their specific institutional goals.

Our Relationship Managers work closely with the Product team, including our dedicated Berlin-based R&D team, to align our product roadmap with partner needs. We integrate feedback from educational partners early in development, ensuring they can participate in testing, stay informed about product updates, and access ongoing training and support as both their teams and Handshake grow.

Our revenue model and its importance

Aligned with our mission to democratise opportunity, Handshake offers its services free to students and employers. The majority, around 98% of employers, use our core services at no cost, which includes job postings, targeted student messaging, and event management. This approach enables our university partners to develop their own revenue models as necessary, whilst also ensuring students are exposed to a broader and more varied array of opportunities.

For large employers interested in advanced features such as branding, campaigns, additional support, and analytics, we provide premium paid options designed to streamline and scale up the hiring process, that do not compromise the control our educational partners have over the opportunities visible to their students. Our premium employer partners span all industries, creating a sustainable foundation for growth for our company.

Universities also contribute to Handshake's revenue, ensuring that our incentives align with those of the universities and that we continue investing in tools for them. This investment is crucial for fostering robust partnerships. Unlike some platforms that offer their products and services for free (as one of our university partners noted, "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product"), we charge for our offerings. However, we believe our pricing policy is fair and maximises our partners' return on investment.

We only offer our product as a comprehensive solution rather than on a feature by feature basis, ensuring a seamless experience for students between mobile and desktop and across all aspects of career-related activities. Additionally, our agreements are designed to be flexible and completely free of exclusivity clauses, empowering our university partners to decide on the products and services that align best with their specific requirements and those of their student body, rather than being bound by legal small print.

Investment and innovation

Handshake has secured over $430m in funding from prominent investors such as Coatue and Kleiner Perkins who have also backed other transformational companies like Google, Spotify, Uber, Looker and Slack, as well as firms focused on tackling some of society's biggest challenges such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

These large financial resources set us apart from other technology companies in the space and enable us to make long-term investments that are necessary to build a truly transformational company and deliver value to all our partners and users.

In addition, most other companies in the space are owned by private equity firms, which generally expect a return on a short (3-4 year) time horizon. This incentivises short-term profit over long-term development investments (with a much longer payback period)

We take pride in our independent, privately-owned status and our ability to attract the investment that enables us to build a world-class team that collaborates with our growing network of education and employer partners, transforming early talent recruitment and enhancing the work of career professionals globally.

Our global team's growth

In the decade since our founding, Handshake has expanded to over 750 employees worldwide with colleagues across the EU including Germany and France, as well as the UK and US. Our team mirrors the diverse professionals and career seekers we serve, bringing unparalleled expertise to our mission.

Many of our colleagues have worked at the cutting edge of new technologies for leading companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Tesla or have worked for universities and employers across the US and Europe, supporting a broad range of students and early talent from across the globe.

Since launching in the UK in 2020, Handshake has continued to increase its investment in Europe, acquiring Talentspace in 2022, the European market leader for virtual career fairs. This strategic move has led to the creation of Handshake’s dedicated European R&D hub, significantly enhancing our ability to quickly address the unique needs of our European partners.

We recognise the importance of hiring local teams who understand regional nuances. As we grow globally, so does our team. Recent expansions into France, Germany, Austria and Portugal, mean we now have around 100 colleagues working across Europe.

Our company is still led by our founder, Garrett Lord, who was named Forbes 30 under 30 and Money’s Changemaker 2023, who ensures the company stays true to its mission. He is surrounded by a leadership team with seasoned executives from companies like LinkedIn, McKinsey & Company and Google. The leadership is overseen by our Board of Directors that includes Margo Georgiadis, formerly CEO of Mattel, who also sits on the board of the McDonalds Corporation and Mamoon Hamid, partner at Kleiner Perkins, who also sat on the boards of Slack and Box.

From the early days of a cross-country road trip to our current status as a leading platform with a global impact, our journey reflects our dedication to collaboration, inclusivity and innovation. As Handshake continues to grow, our unwavering commitment remains to bridge the opportunity gap. Together with our esteemed board, diverse global team, and strong partnerships with educational institutions and employers, we are not just navigating the changing landscape of early talent recruitment; we are redefining it, ensuring that every student has the tools and opportunities to forge their unique path to career success.

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