Educational tech startup Springboard (formerly known as SlideRule) has secured $1.7 million in seed funding. The investors included LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue, The Princeton Review founder John Katzman, 500 Startups and Blue Fog Capital.
December 16, 2015- San Francisco, Calif.—SlideRule, a rapidly-growing edtech company with a unique approach to teaching new economy skills, announced today it has raised $1.7M in seed funding. Investors in the round include Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn; John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review, 2U and The Noodle Companies; Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of InMobi; Kartik Hosanagar, the Wharton School professor; 500 Startups, Blue Fog Capital and others. The funding will be used to increase capacity in currently sold-out courses, provide additional student services and support, and launch courses in new fields.
The funding news coincides with a rebrand of the organization to Springboard to more accurately reflect its mission — to help millennials advance their careers through self-paced, mentored courses. The company differs from most online courses that only focus on content. At Springboard, each student gets access to an industry mentor, as well as a community of fellow students and alumni. Each week, students meet with their mentors, who work at leading tech companies including Airbnb, Etsy, and LinkedIn, via 1-on-1 video calls. This level of human interaction and accountability increases the effectiveness of online education significantly — Springboard sees a completion rate up to ten times higher than many traditional online courses.
“As the tech industry grows, employers can’t hire talent fast enough,” said Gautam Tambay, co-founder and CEO of Springboard. “There is incredible demand for trained data scientists and UX designers, even as 45 percent of recent college grads are underemployed and struggle to find affordable, effective ways to learn career-related skills. We’re addressing these problems at Springboard by offering something truly impactful — an incredibly personalized education that doesn’t break the bank. Our approach of combining a project-heavy curriculum with 1-on-1 mentorship from industry experts creates accountability and ensures that our graduates are ready to thrive in the new economy.”
Launched in 2013 as a search engine for online courses, Springboard quickly expanded to curated content, which proved to be incredibly popular. After feedback from students indicated a need for more guidance and interaction, the company added the elements of mentorship and community late last year, and has since grown more than ten-fold. Today’s rebranding announcement highlights the company’s permanent shift in focus to becoming an online mentor-led school for new economy skills.
“I’ve spent my career looking for innovative ways to improve learning,” said Springboard investor John Katzman, founder and CEO of The Princeton Review, 2U and The Noodle Companies. “Springboard brings a smart team and a promising approach to curriculum and mentoring. With the new economy’s need for perpetual learning, Springboard is poised to have real impact.”
Springboard programs have seen great demand from students across the six major continents, and have consistently reached maximum capacity weeks ahead of the actual course start dates. To keep up with the demand, the company has grown its network of mentors to over 110 data science and design professionals over the past 12 months. Industry experts curate the curriculum for these self-paced, project-oriented courses, with the end goal to produce a portfolio-worthy capstone project. Springboard alums have used portfolios created in the course to land jobs at IBM, Boeing and Reddit, among others.
For more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.springboard.com.
Springboard is a rapidly-growing online school focused on helping early and mid-level professionals advance their careers in Data Science and UX Design, two industries where the demand for qualified talent far exceeds the supply. The school differs from other online programs that are focused on providing content alone, as Springboard adds a human element that significantly increases accountability and hence the effectiveness of courses. Students enrolled in a Springboard course get access to an industry expert with whom they meet weekly, as well as a community of students and alumni. The company has raised $1.7 million in seed funding to-date from investors including Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn, John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review and 2U, Kartik Hosanagar, The Wharton School professor and active angel investor, Naveen Tewari, founder of InMobi, 500 Startups, Blue Fog Capital and others.