French startup OpenClassrooms is raising $60 million from General Atlantic, with existing investors Citizen Capital, Alven and Bpifrance also participating.
OpenClassrooms is the most popular massive open online course platform in France. But the startup has evolved beyond on-demand courses to provide full-fledged degrees. You can now get a degree certified by the French state by studying full time on OpenClassrooms.
Every month, 3 million users access OpenClassrooms. Many of them just want to learn something and maybe get a certification. But more and more people are following one of the 30 bachelor and master degrees. You can study many things from web and mobile development to data management and marketing.
But OpenClassrooms isn’t just leaving you with a big pile of courses to study. The company has created a community of mentors who will regularly check with you to see how you’re doing. There are 600 mentors working for OpenClassrooms.
These paths aren’t cheap as you’ll need to pay around €300 per month ($350). But it’s still cheaper and more flexible than attending a traditional engineering school right after the baccalauréat. For instance, if you want to work on the side and live in a cheap city, you can do that as you just need a computer and an internet connection.
The company will even guarantee that you’ll find a job after that. If you can’t find a job within six months, OpenClassrooms will pay you back for the degree.
And OpenClassrooms recently unveiled the next step. As OpenClassrooms students easily find a job after getting a degree, the startup started working with companies directly.
IT service company Capgemini is always looking for new people as there’s usually a high turnover in IT service companies. That’s why Capgemini is hiring trainees with OpenClassrooms.
Students learn a new skill and then work part time for Capgemini. OpenClassrooms charges Capgemini directly, students don’t have to pay for their studies and get a job instantly. It’s a win for everyone.
When I first learned about this program, I thought OpenClassrooms had finally found a highly profitable business model. Now, the company has signed deals with Orange and Google.org.
With today’s funding round, the team is going to double in size. “Within a year, OpenClassrooms will provide a hundred digital degrees, including a third of them in English,” co-founder and CEO Pierre Dubuc told me.
Many will focus on digital skills, such as data science, computer science and cybersecurity. But there will also be non-technical degrees around HR, management, accounting, marketing and communication. OpenClassrooms could end up becoming one of the biggest universities in the world.