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The Holberton School Pulls In $2.3M

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, The Holberton School, a college alternative designed to help fill the tech skills gap using non-traditional learning techniques, raised $2.3 million in funding.
The San Francisco-based Holberton School, an alternative to college for training students to become highly skilled full-stack software engineers, announced today it has raised $2.3 million led by daphni and joined by private equity and venture capital firms Reach Capital and Insight Venture Partners. The round brings to $4.3M the amount of financing raised by the school.

Current investors Trinity Ventures (Dan Scholnick; board of directors, Docker and New Relic), Jerry Yang (co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo!), Partech Ventures, and Jonathan Boutelle (co-founder of Slideshare) are also part of the new round. Holberton School previously raised a $2 million seed round last year.

Holberton, which accepts fewer than 2.5% of applicants (making it more than twice as hard to enter as Harvard) plans to expand their program to more than 100 students a year (from the current 30) responding to the overwhelming demand from both candidates and companies. Holberton will also use the funds to reach out to more potential students, especially those typically under-represented in the tech industry. Already, Holberton boasts a 40% class of women and nearly 50% people of color.

'Holberton not only offers students an alternative place to a very exciting -- and lucrative -- career, they are turning Silicon Valley stereotypes on their head,' said Marie Ekeland, co-founder at daphni. 'We loved the admissions process that has resulted in a gender flipping near equal enrollment of men and women as well as almost an equal number of people of color. We also loved their approach to education, creating a collaborative community where everyone teaches and learns from everyone else.'

With less than half of their two-year program completed, the first class of Holberton students found internships and jobs at top Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Dropbox, NASA and Docker. Because students at the school are trained to 'learn how to learn,' companies remarked on their level of knowledge and skillset and how quickly they learned new languages and integrated with their teams.

'(Holberton student) Rona Chong has been working with us for 3 months and I have been very impressed by her work,' said Tammy Buttow, SRE Manager at Dropbox. 'Thanks to her broad knowledge and how well she interacts with the team, she was able to make a difference very quickly.'

The students gained experience participating in a number of different projects and events, from hosting the first ever international bots hackathon in July 2016 to being invited to talk at the Top Women in Cloud Award at Google in December 2016. Holberton was the first US school to train software engineers through peer learning and project-based learning, and became the world's first school to deliver secure academic certificates within the bitcoin blockchain. The students have also published many articles in a wide variety of publications, and one student received a coveted internship at the SETI Institute.

'Our mission is to open this high quality education to as many people, from as many walks of life, as possible,' said co-founder Julien Barbier. 'This is the reason why there is no upfront tuition and why we created an automated, software-driven admissions process that removes human bias. This has led to a unique (for the technology industry) 40% ratio of female students and 50% people of color. This funding will allow us to make our program accessible to even more students while still keeping our academic standards high.'

The San Francisco-based school offers an alternative to college, online courses and coding bootcamps. It trains world-class full-stack software engineers in two years by using a system already proven in Europe to scale to graduate thousands of elite engineers a year. The curriculum is based on the progressive education concept, a methodology that combines project-based and peer learning, where students help each other to learn and reach their goals. At Holberton, there are no formal teachers and no lectures. Students learn theory and tools by building, which guarantees that they are fully prepared to take on the most demanding jobs and maybe even hunt for asteroids.

Join Holberton
Holberton is open to anyone -- ages of 18 to 128, whether an experienced programmer or not. The selection process is based only on talent and motivation. Holberton enables students from every community and background to have the opportunity to become a software engineer. That is also why there is no upfront cost to join the school, that charges a percentage of students' salary once -- and only if -- they find a job.

Applications are now open for the May and September batches.

About daphni
daphni invests in European startups that will change how the world works. For good! To support founders, daphni built a digital platform and a closely knit community of entrepreneurs, executives, academics, artists and advisors. They provide the right connexions and insights to grow faster.

About Reach Capital
Reach supports the most promising entrepreneurs developing technology solutions for challenges in early childhood, K-12 and higher education. We invest in early-stage tech tools, applications, content, and services to improve education opportunities for all children. The Fund also acts as a catalyst, inspiring and enabling traditional and non-traditional investors to provide capital to the fast-growing ed tech market.

About Insight Venture Partners
Insight Venture Partners is a leading global venture capital and private equity firm investing in high-growth technology and software companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 1995, Insight has raised more than $13 billion and invested in more than 250 companies worldwide. Our mission is to find, fund and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with practical, hands-on growth expertise to foster long-term success.

About Holberton School
Using project-based learning and peer learning, our mission is to train the best software engineers of their generation.

At Holberton, there are no formal teachers and no formal courses. Instead, everything is project centered. We give our students increasingly difficult programming challenges to solve, and give them minimal initial directions on how to solve them. As a consequence, students naturally look for the theory and tools they need, understand them, use them, work together, and help each other. We are focusing on teaching how to learn instead of teaching a specific tool or programming language.
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