Startup Institute bags £1.85m from Silicon Valley Bank ahead of London launch

Silicon Valley Bank has invested £1.85 million ($3 million) in Startup Institute – an organisation that aims to equip people with the skills needed to work in high-growth tech startups like Shazam, Spotify and Huddle.

Startup Institute, founded by former Techstars Boston employees Aaron O’Hearn, Shaun Johnson, Katie Rae, and Reed Sturtevant, claims to “cultivate human capital for high-growth companies” and equip people with the “skills, mindset, and network to succeed in jobs at startups”.

The founders of the organisation said they came up with the idea for Startup Institute after realising that too many startup candidates appear to have the "hard skills" when hired by startups but fail to contribute when they begin their role because they are disoriented or fail to understand how high growth innovative companies work.

The so-called "career accelerator" said the money will go towards opening new offices and expanding the programme worldwide.

Startup Institute began offering its $5,000 eight-week training camps in Boston, New York and Chicago in 2012 before announcing earlier this year that it was going to expand the courses to London and Berlin from June.

While the Berlin programme ran as scheduled, the London programme, priced at £3,000, was pushed back to 6 October.

Andrew Hoag, managing director of Startup Institute Europe, told Techworld today that he made a "commercial decision" to pilot the course in Berlin first.

"The UK opportuntiy for us is quite large. London is three times the size of Berlin and also the startup ecosystem there has had a couple more cycles," he said. "We're excited about the potential of Berlin but I thought it was important for us to get London right."

Candidates on the London programme will be taught by employees from the likes of Hailo, Geckoboard and Toothpick after Startup Institute signed partnership agreements with the fast-growing firms. Twitter and Yelp are already signed up as teaching partners.

The London course will focus on the same four areas that the other programmes have focused on: product and design, technical marketing, sales and account management, and web development.

Katie Rae, cofounder and chairman of Startup Institute, said: “The demand for this style of education has been incredible. Growth into new markets was inevitable, and our strategic partnership with Silicon Valley Bank means we can accelerate our development of new programs and our expansion into more cities in the US and across Europe.”

Phil Cox, president of Silicon Valley Bank’s UK Branch, said: “Through our experience and research, we know first hand that one of the biggest challenges facing the global innovation economy is developing the talent to support growth.

“Since we are continuously looking for ways to help increase innovation companies’ probability of success, working with Startup Institute to address this problem is a natural fit. It gives students an on-ramp into the startup world, as well as the skills to succeed, while providing startups with access to an expanding workforce to help them scale.”

A number of accelerators (such as Oxygen, Level 39 and Innovation Warehouse) already exist in London – where thousands of new startups were launched in 2013 alone – but most of them focus on supporting start-ups themselves as opposed to the people that want to work for them.

According to an annual study by Silicon Valley Bank, while 77 percent of innovation companies globally reported plans to hire in 2014, 91 percent said it is extremely or somewhat challenging to find workers with the skills they need.

About 60 percent said their biggest challenges in hiring are related to experience, skills and education. A recent Startup Institute survey also found that 42 percent of UK startups cite staffing reasons for failure.

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