French startup Augment has seen the incredible rise of online courses and edtech companies, as well as its potential when it comes to reinventing education at scale. That’s why the startup has been working on highly polished online courses sold as a package. Augment thinks its main program could potentially become an alternative to traditional Masters of Business Administration (MBA).
Augment has recently raised a $6 million seed round led by RTP Global with other funds also participating, such as Motier Ventures, Origins Fund, Kima Ventures, Bpifrance and Financière Saint James. Several angel investors also invested in the startup, such as Thibaud Elziere and Roxanne Varza.
The startup’s main program is called the Augment MBA. It is an opinionated and differentiated take on MBAs as everything happens online with a mix of videos from inspiring business leaders, case studies, quizzes, written assignments, downloadable handbooks, etc.
I haven’t enrolled in Augment’s program so I can’t tell you if it’s an effective way to learn new business skills. A few months ago, the Augment team showed me some of the videos they were working on, such as a video with Eventbrite co-founder Renaud Visage. It was highly scripted but it looked great, in case you’re wondering about the video production standards. It’s also worth noting that the Augment MBA is an unaccredited MBA.
But things seem to be going well so far, as Augment told me that the course has been live for six months with more than 500 students enrolled in the Augment MBA from all over the world — 80% from the U.S., followed by the U.K. and Middle Eastern countries.
Augment isn’t a subscription-based product. Instead, you can get access to the platform with a one-time payment. The Augment MBA currently costs $1,750.
A faculty of tech founders
In many ways, Augment feels like an alternative to MasterClass, with a specific focus on business education and a structured curriculum that goes beyond video courses. Some of the first entrepreneurs turned teachers include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, YouTube founder Steve Chen and Shazam founder Chris Barton.
A successful MBA also offers you some networking opportunities so that you can help each other out in your career after graduating. That’s why Augment is also trying to create a community around its MBA-like program with some opportunities to network with fellow students.
While the company’s first MBA-like program will remain the main program going forward, the startup is already working on other formats and topics. Augment told me that there will be some shorter, cheaper courses on specific subjects, or “mini-MBA programs,” as they call them.
The startup hopes it can address three different types of professionals — aspiring entrepreneurs who want to go beyond a simple idea, managers who want to improve their leadership skills and technical professionals looking for business skills to become senior leaders.
There are some high upfront costs to create those programs, so it’s important to recover some of those costs to expand the startup’s business with more programs and new sales channels (corporate offerings, bundles, etc.). It’s going to be interesting to see if Augment manages to sell its programs to a larger crowd now that it has nailed down its main program and some funding.