University Ventures acquires GradStaff, which rebrands as Avenica

University Ventures has acquired Minneapolis-based GradStaff, a recruiting firm focused on placing recent college graduates into entry-level positions. No financial terms were disclosed. As a result of the transaction, GradStaff has now rebranded as Avenica.


MINNEAPOLIS, July 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — University Ventures, the leading education-to-employment private equity firm, announced today that it has acquired entry-level hiring and recruiting firm GradStaff, which is being rebranded as “Avenica.”

“Millennials are struggling under the weight of student loan debt and persistently high levels of underemployment,” said Brian Weed, Avenica chief executive officer. “Pathways to good careers in growing sectors of the economy are less clear than they once were, and in many instances have been closed off altogether. With the sponsorship of University Ventures, Avenica will expand its successful model to more cities, more colleges and more industries to provide clear pathways to meaningful career opportunities for tens of thousands of new college grads.”

With the acquisition, Weed replaces retiring CEO Bob LaBombard, who will remain on the company’s Board of Directors. Weed is a seasoned business leader with nearly 30 years of experience helping companies of all sizes improve processes and outcomes, particularly in the higher education market.

In the wake of the acquisition, the company also announced it is rebranding as “Avenica,” reflecting its innovative approach to entry-level recruiting and hiring. The new name, derived from the French words for “future” and “career,” speaks to the professional aspirations of the more than 100,000 recent college grads that applied with Avenica in just the past year.

Founded in 1998, Avenica makes the entry-level job market more efficient by recruiting, on a year-round basis, recent graduates using relationships with over 900 four-year colleges and its advanced digital marketing capabilities. Using its proprietary behavioral science-based interviewing process, Avenica helps candidates discover their transferable skills and career interests, and coaches them to succeed in interviewing and adapting to working in a professional environment. Last year, Avenica filled nearly 1,500 positions with more than 250 clients in 37 U.S. states.

“Market research shows that many hiring managers want to hire new grads for their entry-level job openings, but can’t find qualified candidates,” said LaBombard. “Avenica does the work for them, and then provides employers with a unique trial period – allowing them to evaluate candidates thoroughly before making the final hiring decision.”

Avenica works with companies to refine their entry-level roles and recruiting strategies, streamlining their hiring processes by identifying the right fit for both the graduate and client and utilizing a multi-month “evaluation-to-hire” period, which reduces the risk for both parties. Avenica’s success is evident in its outcomes: high conversion rates after the evaluation period (more than 85 percent), as well as high retention rates of its placements two years into their careers (double the average retention rates for all college graduates).

After many years of sustained growth, LaBombard and company founder, David Weyerhaeuser, sought the University Ventures investment to more quickly achieve the scale necessary to meet the widespread need for innovation and specialized services in the entry-level hiring field.

“Through our investments, including our acquisition of Avenica, University Ventures is continuing to demonstrate leadership in addressing the challenges facing recent college graduates,” said Aanand Radia, managing director at University Ventures. “For nearly 20 years, Avenica has helped bridge the gap to meaningful careers. We are excited to draw attention to this proven model, and to bring it to many more colleges, graduates and employers.”

By focusing on this niche in the recruiting market, the Avenica model provides both clients and the grads with these superior outcomes in a time- and cost-effective manner. Avenica is the antidote to an increasingly algorithm-driven hiring and recruiting process, with a personalized approach that resonates with the millennial generation and appeals to the needs of small- and mid-sized employers.

College graduates can apply with Avenica online at Companies interested in working with Avenica to build a customized entry-level recruiting and hiring program can contact Avenica via or via email at

Avenica is the leading U.S. recruiting firm exclusively focused on placing recent college graduates into entry-level career-track positions. Using a proprietary interview process that identifies skills beyond the resume and provides career coaching, Avenica opens new possibilities for candidates. Avenica partners with companies to refine job profiles and streamline the hiring process. A personalized matching process leads to the right fit for both candidates and clients, which results in better outcomes—very high candidate conversion and retention rates—at a lower cost. Avenica serves a national client base, and places thousands of recent graduates each year from seven offices throughout the United States.

University Ventures (UV) is reimagining the future of higher education and creating new pathways from education to employment. UV portfolio companies are making higher education more affordable, pioneering entirely new approaches to learning, and helping employers think differently about how and where they discover talent. UV’s approach draws upon the values and traditions of higher education to play a sustainable role in transforming the path from education to a stronger economic future for students, universities, and employers. UV is led by principals with decades of experience as entrepreneurs, investors, authors, and leaders in higher education.