DataCamp wants to teach data science skills to a generation of people, and it got a million in seed money to continue developing its online data-science learning platform.
The round was led by Chris Lynch at Accomplice, an early stage venture capital firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company had raised $300,000 in seed money previously
DataCamp founder Jonathan Cornelissen says there is a huge gap right now between the need for people with data science skills and those who can actually do it. “We are on a mission to solve the problem of the huge lack of people who know how to handle data,” he said.
Lead investor Chris Lynch agrees. “The thesis behind investment is that data science is a $100 billion marketplace, growing 30 percent annually. And there are only a 100,000 data scientists today,” he said. There is a real need to get massive amounts of people trained, and as such he sees a company like DataCamp as a good bet.
The company launched with a 6-part, 13 module course in R, the data science programming language. Students can learn about the finer points of R including data manipulation, modeling, visualization and so forth.
But that’s just for starters.
The company wants to add other courses to the platform over the next year, such as Spark, Hadoop and other data science skill sets. The platform has been designed to expand to other areas as the company grows.
DataCamp uses a subscription model, currently charging $25/month for unlimited access to the platform. Students can also try courses for free before they subscribe. The company has a mix of individual subscribers and partner companies including Microsoft, and plans to expand that model over time.
The company launched in Belgium about 18 months ago and came to New York last year to participate in TechStars, a mixed experience for the company, but one that allowed it to build a presence in the US. That was a primary goal for the founders because most of their traffic was coming from US IP addresses and the majority of the partnerships they had established were with US companies.
The company will do a mix of in-house and partner course development. If it decides to specialize in an area like data science for the financial services industry, the company would look for an industry expert in financial services, Cornelissen explained.
After the founders met Lynch, and he agreed to provide funding, they decided to open an office in Boston to be closer to him, and also to have easier access to Belgium than a west coast location would afford.