Springboard raises $1.7M seed for mentor-led edtech

Ronny Kerr · December 16, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4217

LinkedIn's Allen Blue, 500 Startups, and others invest in company formerly known as SlideRule

Education technology company Springboard (formerly known as SlideRule) today announced that it has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from a long list of investors, including 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.

One wave among a rising tide of edtech companies, Springboard aims to help millennials get ahead in their careers through self-paced, mentor-led workshops. Instead of just being content-focused, the company says it offers students access to an industry expert (hailing from well-known tech companies like Airbnb, Etsy, and LinkedIn) through weekly, one-on-one, 30-minute video calls. The student also has access to a community of students and alumni.

It’s through this human element that Springboard hopes to differentiate itself from the rest of the market, and they claim their completion rates are ten times higher than other traditional online courses.

The company focuses on development and engineering, offering courses in data analysis, UX design, Android app development, and more. Upcoming workshops include "Foundations of Data Science," "UX Design School," and "Data Science Intensive.”

“There is incredible demand for trained data scientists and UX designers,” said Gautam Tambay, co-founder and CEO of Springboard,” even as 45 percent of recent college grads are underemployed and struggle to find affordable, effective ways to learn career-related skills."

The company charges $499 per month for courses, but students can work at their own pace. So for the "Foundations of Data Science" course, for example, the company estimates it will take about 100 hours to complete. At 25 hours per week, that's a $500 course. If you can only invest 8-10 hours per week, then it will take you about three months, costing $1500.

Cost aside, Springboard says it’s seeing huge demand with consistently sold out courses. That’s part of the reason for the new funding: to increase capacity for courses, to expand its network of mentors (already at 110 data science and design professionals), and to launch new courses.

With its seed announcement today, the company also officially changed its name from “SlideRule” to “Springboard,” which is a perfectly okay thing to do when you’re still a young company. To make things complicated, however, various other education organizations already use the name “Springboard.”

For one, there's College Board's SpringBoard, an instructional English and math program, comprising both print and digital materials, for students in grades 6-12. Then there's Springboard the non-profit agency providing credit counseling, bankruptcy education, and other financial education for individuals and families. SpringBoard is also apparently the official name for the iOS home screen! (Who knew?)

There's Springboard Enterprises for women entrepreneurs, Springboard After School for K-12 education, Springboard America for online market research, and quite possibly a hundred other Springboards!

At least the latest Springboard (aka SlideRule) has secured springboard.com.

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