How InStride Uses Ironclad Clickwrap to Power a $19M Workforce Education Partnership

InStride employee using ironclad clickwrap

Ironclad's Clickwrap enabled us to intake and organize a large volume of contracts. Without Ironclad, we would have spent considerable time and resources to attempt to build a solution of our own. With Clickwrap, we can scale effectively to reach the full population of delivery businesses (~3,000), which will allow us to provide life-changing educational opportunities to 170,000 delivery workers.

- Stephen Chu, Chief Legal and People Officer at InStride

When driving growth, businesses often prioritize investing resources in software integrations, heavy competitive research, and elaborate project management tools. But for businesses that care about long-term success recognize that there’s a category arguably more important to invest in: people. And Los Angeles-based edtech startup InStride embodies just that. 

As a provider of strategic workforce education solutions, InStride partners with leading academic institutions to connect employees with career-boosting educational opportunities. “We’re trying to create as many learners as possible,” shared Stephen Chu, InStride’s Chief Legal and People Officer. “More learners [are] good for the world.” 

This focus on social impact influences core parts of InStride’s business–even how they make money. Instead of a traditional tuition reimbursement format where learners have to front hefty sums to even enroll, InStride has their corporate partners pay the education bill upfront to take the financial burden off of the employees. “This increases the diversity of our candidate pool, because the people with $10,000 in their bank accounts to spend on a degree aren’t underrepresented in education traditionally,” Chu said. And to date, this strategy has been highly effective, with InStride’s uptake rate of up to 5-10% in some cases. That’s more than five times the average for traditional tuition reimbursement programs. 

Some of the largest companies in the world have huge groups of frontline workers that, for whatever reason, don’t have college degrees because life got in the way. Our mission is to bring education to people that may have missed out.

The larger the company, the greater the potential impact, which is why InStride–whose customers include Adidas and Labcorp– set its sights on one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. 

An e-commerce giant wanted to invest in workforce education.

When Chu joined InStride, these pursuits were well under way, with one major deal in particular. This deal involved an e-commerce giant that employs more than a million people in the United States —but that company’s employee group doesn’t include the ‘last mile’ transportation between distribution centers and homes. Instead, the company utilizes 3,000+ independently-owned delivery businesses nationwide that employ 170,000+ drivers and team members.

Since the contracted delivery businesses and their drivers are a critical piece of the customer experience, the e-commerce giant decided to invest $19 million in an education program. 

Challenge: Delivering a Seamless Contract Experience for Everyone at Scale

InStride’s partnership with the e-commerce brand represented a massive opportunity—and undertaking.  

The basic mechanics of the education program for the company through InStride are simple. The company’s contracted delivery businesses register through InStride and pay the company a $100 annual fee, which gives their employees access to education and skills training. But the scale of the project and the fact that the ultimate payor wasn’t the counterparty added complexity to the project. 

InStride identified three potential challenges:

  1. Company registration needs to be straightforward and frictionless for business owners without a legal team or legal background
  2. InStride needs to collect and manage data so employers can control eligibility requirements
  3. Employees need an easy way to sign up for their education programs

All of these delivery businesses are individual companies that we have to sign up with individual agreements. It would be very difficult if we had one lawyer trying to negotiate 3,000 agreements.

Additionally, an easy-to-use system is a must for equity. If InStride’s registration processes were overly technical or complex, then delivery businesses and employees with less time, resources, or support would be disproportionately affected. 

InStride needed a forward thinker to close the partnership and rollout.

As the bridge between legal and HR, Chu, who graduated from Columbia University Law School and spent time in big law before transitioning to an in-house role, understood how critical this partnership was. After all, a huge customer for InStride and access to higher education for thousands of delivery drivers both hung in the balance. 

When doing HR, you must remember that you’re dealing with people, not numbers and spreadsheets. When you’re running a 50,000-person organization, and you don’t know everyone’s name, that isn’t easy. But every decision you make affects a person and their livelihood.

So towards the end of the deal, Chu stepped in to finalize contract logistics–and to make sure that the experience for the delivery businesses was as easy to participate in as possible.

Chu, in partnership with InStride Associate General Counsel Maureen Boyle, was already in the process of choosing a contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool for the wider organization, with Ironclad’s CLM as the top contender. Once the two began evaluating the contract logistics for this particular deal, they realized that not only did they need a faster and more intuitive way to get the contracts signed, they also needed a way for those contracts to be stored in the CLM and made searchable to determine things like how many businesses signed up or which employees met program eligibility requirements. 

At first, the InStride product team considered building its own solution in-house. However, the solution would have taken considerable time and resources, and the solution may not have met all data and legal requirements being built from scratch, which would have introduced unnecessary data and compliance risks. Even with their own solution, they might still be less trusted by courts than a third-party vendor

Chu had already been in discussions with the sales teams and Alex Su, Head of Community Development at Ironclad (the two had connected on their early careers at large law firms), which led to a lightbulb moment—Ironclad had a clickwrap solution. Ironclad Clickwrap gathers legally binding digital acceptance with just a click, and because clickwraps are non-negotiable agreements, lawyers don’t need to step in to negotiate. This meant that InStride could quickly and seamlessly onboard delivery businesses and their team members and manage the completed contracts easily, all within Ironclad. In effect, implementing Ironclad Clickwrap would solve all three of the deal’s major challenges. 

The next steps were a no-brainer. Chu and Boyle coordinated a collaboration between InStride’s and Ironclad’s product teams to easily implement Ironclad Clickwrap into the fabric of the InStride product for the partnership. 

snapshot of instride clickwrap workflow

Ironclad Clickwrap enabled InStride to onboard a goal-breaking number of delivery businesses.

The e-commerce company announced its education program at a major conference for its contracted vendors, with InStride in attendance. InStride also did outbound marketing to contracted companies and collected inbound interest through a phone line and dedicated online portal. 

While these marketing efforts around the program fueled early adoption, Ironclad Clickwrap channeled that anticipation into immediate action. So far, InStride has surpassed its goals for adoption. 

We had a first-year goal around the number of delivery businesses signed up—we already broke that number in just a few months. I don’t think it would have been possible to achieve the solution without Ironclad.

It takes as little as five minutes for companies to register with InStride using Ironclad, compared to the 30+ days it typically takes InStride to review and negotiate a customer contract under a traditional approach.

The delivery businesses spend less time reviewing clickwrap contracts-with InStride already having 1,000+ contracts signed through Ironclad Clickwrap-and they can spend more time getting their employees to take advantage of educational benefits.

What’s Next for InStride

Adoption is outpacing projections, but it’s only the beginning. 

With Ironclad Clickwrap, InStride has been able to efficiently onboard thousands of independent contract companies on behalf of one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies, track all the sign-ups, and make sure everyone who signed up was eligible. Plus, with an easily replicable solution now in place, InStride is able to serve its corporate partners and their learners in an even more impactful way.

Next, Chu and the InStride legal team plan to implement Ironclad’s CLM. 

[After meeting the Ironclad team], you understand how Ironclad is what it is. You feel comfortable knowing that the solution is going to get delivered in the best way when you work with the best.

To learn more, join Chu and Ironclad Senior Counsel Laura Garcia as they chat career transitions, leading lean legal, and the transformative power of digital contracting during next week’s webinar on March 22nd. Register today

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