Entity Academy, an edtech startup that trains, mentors, and places women in tech roles, secures $ 100M - Start Up Gazzete
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Entity Academy, an edtech startup that trains, mentors, and places women in tech roles, secures $ 100M


Women have made huge inroads into the tech world in recent years, but there is a long way to go before we reach a truly equal state of affairs in worker numbers, pay, and product development. An edtech startup called Entity Academy, which provides women with training in areas such as data science and software development, mentoring, and ultimately job training, has raised $ 100 million after strong business growth and ambition. to improve that ratio.

The funding will be used to help students fund their Entity Academy tuition, which typically costs $ 15,000. It comes from Leif, a startup that provides financing services to edtech platforms so that they can offer their students revenue sharing agreements (also known as ISAs, agreements in which students are not required to pay tuition loans until find work).

Jennifer Schwab, founder and CEO of Entity, has built the business since 2016 with virtually no external funding, but said this latest funding is a precursor to the company working on its first round of more traditional venture capital.

Entity does not build e-learning content on its own, but instead aggregates online courses in data science, software development, fintech engineering, and technology sales in “bootcamp” style courses ranging from 24 to 33 weeks in length, from Providers ranging from Springboard and Lambda School to Columbia University (university courses tend to be presented as institution-created, while others are tailored by the Entity itself to its students).

His technology game is not only related to the Entity curriculum that focuses on technology; unsurprisingly in an edtech startup, Entity also relies heavily on the data it has accumulated to build its strategy and business.

That data is based not only on feedback from past and current students and student results, but also on other channels. His “content arm” Entity Mag has gone viral on social media and has over 1.1 million followers on Instagram and Facebook, making it another important channel for engagement (not to mention prospective students).

Entity uses all of this to curate not only what courses it provides and what goes into the curriculum, but also how best to supplement that learning. Today, Entity’s courses also include specific mentoring of people working in the technology industry, as well as career guidance on the path to finding a job.

Entity’s sweet spot is bifurcated, Schwab said in an interview.

It’s women who are new (usually 19 to 23 years old) or those who are just returning or reconsidering their careers (usually 30 to 39 years old, Schwab said). Women in both categories are coming to Entity because they would like to consider tech jobs or more technical promotions, but have found their experience lacking to do so. They have most likely studied the humanities or other non-technical subjects in college, and typically don’t have the support in their work settings to simply retrain to open the door to those more technical roles.

Add to that the mix of diversity among those women, which also poses a different kind of challenge for that cohort, but also a huge push for Entity to help them address that. About 55% of the 19-23 age group are women of color; as did 62% of the 30-39 age group. The entity aims to provide its tools to address all of these women with all their different challenges around entering tech jobs, in what it describes as an “enveloping” strategy.

“Several of our students would not have followed STEM programs in the past,” Schwab said, “so we are building skill sets from scratch.”

With around 80% of students in courses taking some funding to pay for them, she can see why Entity is now increasing the means to help them do so.


Since 2016, some 400 students, almost all women, have completed the course. But originally it started as a much shorter program (six weeks), it was all in person and cost $ 5,000. Now, with several of the courses lasting eight months and all virtual, that means more costs and more people. Schwab said there are another 300 students going through the course, and that she is on track to have 1,500 next year.

The entity’s growth has dovetailed with the biggest trends in edtech and “future of work”. COVID-19 imposed a huge set of expectations on the e-learning industry, with companies building tools to help teach people remotely who are suddenly in unprecedented demand. That was not just because traditional learning environments needed to go virtual, but also because the pandemic led many, voluntarily or by force, to rethink what they were doing with their lives, and online education was a key route to take. something about it at a time when little else could be done.

Entity’s own story fits both stories.

The company was originally founded in Los Angeles by Schwab based on her own experiences when she was a consultant at Ernst & Young early in her own career.

“My original goal was to change the way women approach careers globally. How to better target women was the impetus because I had no mentors when I started at Ernst & Young,” she recalled. Feeling “like you’re on an island” is bad in and of itself, she said, but it was a rapid evolution toward education and job placement alongside that mentoring because “we identify these [as other reasons] why women don’t pursue careers. technological “.

The company’s first incarnation in 2016 was as a brick and mortar learning center housed in a 1920s Los Angeles building – appropriately, formerly a men’s club. That was a convincing sale; with a shorter learning period and being in person, he saw completion rates of 96% with jobs for more than 90% of the cohorts at the end. “There is a lot more responsibility in person,” Schwab said.

The pandemic, of course, forced Entity out of that model, but it also became the lever for how it would scale. When it was relaunched as a virtual program in 2020, from a new company headquarters in Las Vegas, the numbers grew, the company extended the duration of the courses and increased the tuition to reflect the longer commitments.

And yet that has had a downside, too, with completion rates falling, something Schwab said is a priority for the company to work on improving.

Mentors in the program are another aspect of the business that has escalated with the move to virtual. Originally, all the mentors were unpaid volunteers who just wanted to help more women gain an edge in the industry, or more opportunistically use their exposure to students as a hiring funnel. That is also evolving with online engagement.

“Now we pay the mentors and bring in professional moderators to keep the mentor-led discussions at a decent pace,” Schwab said. Speakers will often donate their fees to scholarship and child care funds, she added. There are now about 250 mentors in the network of entities, some focused on lectures to groups of students, while others work individually with them, generally in relation to the technical subjects they are studying. That number is expected to double to 500 next year, Schwab said.

The job search aspect of the role is perhaps the least developed yet – you can find, in fine print, that “job placement is not guaranteed” at the bottom of the Entity website, along with the caveat that Entity Academy it is a complement, not a replacement for, traditional education.

But that also speaks to potential opportunities. Along those lines, there are others, like The Mom Project, who are considering the opportunity to specifically target the female demographic, speaking not only of the huge female gap in the job market, but also the fact that there simply hasn’t been much built up. to address that. Fortunately, now that seems to be changing.

Author avatar
Joshua Smith

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