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MissionU raises $8.5M to build an alternative one-year education program

MissionU raises $8.5M to build an alternative one-year education program
From TechCrunch - September 14, 2017

Adam Braun, a consultant-turned-educational non-profit founder, will say hes had a lot of good fortune thats helped him position himself in a way to see the education system from a birds-eye viewand hopes he can help address the problem of student debt with a venture-backed startup.

Thats why Braun, with his experience at Bain and then at Pencils for Promise, is looking to train students to basically do something similar: have the ability to parachute into a company and immediately add value to their team. The program is called MissionU, and like the original Dev Bootcamp concept, it looks to train students with the entire suite of soft and analytical skills that a company like Spotify needs on a daily basis. To do that, MissionU has raised a new $8.5 million financing round led by FirstMark Capital and existing investors, including First Round Capital and John Doerr.

When you ask entering freshman that enter college why they are going, the most popular answer is often to get a better job, Braun said. But if you ask administrators and professors, very few see that as their core responsibility. You have this huge disconnect between what the consumer, the student, wants to get out of the experience and what the service provider sees as their core responsibility.

The program doesnt charge any tuition upfront, but for the following 3 years takes 15% of a students income as long as they make more than $50,000 annually. The only major, so to speak, that MissionU currently offers is one in data analytics and business intelligence. The firm teaches students foundational skills like project management and public speaking and then dives into the more technical elements. The last part of the year is a project with a real company, which aims to give the student a portfolio of work and references when they start looking for jobs.

MissionU doesnt look at test scores from the SAT or the GPA. Instead, the program tries to look at basic data about a student, and then run them through a quantitative challenge. After that, four potential students are brought together and given 45 minutes to build a presentation for something, which is designed to test their ability to cooperate. Then, theres a final interview with an essay. While MissionU will expand over time and looks to grow beyond San Francisco next year, that kind of focus might end up helping students that would otherwise have a difficult time directly picking a major.

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