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Academy raises $4m to build a new diverse generation of tech leaders

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Leaders of today invest in the leaders of tomorrow: Academy raises $4m to build a new diverse generation of tech leaders

Academy – a UK startup that attracts, trains and accelerates a new diverse generation of tech leaders – has raised a $4m seed round to build a talent and leadership infrastructure for the tech industry.

Current and former leaders from Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, Farfetch and GoCardless are amongst the high-profile angel investors participating in the round, which is being led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Emerge Education.

A proven multi-billion dollar talent model

Academy’s CEO and Founder, Ashley Ramrachia, was Chief People Officer at THG, building the talent investment blueprint that powered them to their $7bn IPO – London’s largest ever tech IPO at the time.

Whilst at THG, Ramrachia pioneered a radical new model to meet the scaling needs of the company: building an internal technology and leadership academy that transformed raw tech potential into high performance technologists.

In doing so, THG uncovered a source of untapped, premium talent – non-Computer Science graduates with an enormous aptitude for tech acceleration, who ended up outperforming their Computer Science peers in tech roles.

This “merit over means” strategy – converting high-potential into high-performance in tech, with an open door to anybody with the right aptitude, regardless of experience – is one that delivers both on delivery and diversity. Now, with Academy, Ramrachia is embedding this model at the very heart of the tech industry.

Fuel for the most ambitious tech talent and companies

Academy works with the most ambitious tech talent and companies to build the next generation of tech leaders from diverse backgrounds – modelled on the career trajectories of Academy’s angel investors such as Ric Lewis (Chair of the Black Heart Foundation), Angie Ma (Chief People Officer at Faculty) and Wing Chan (former CTO of THG).

Portfolio companies from Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures and Y Combinator – along with rapidly growing public companies like Soho House – are amongst the companies working with Academy to find and accelerate their future tech leaders.

Academy partners gain exclusive access to a premium community of diverse future leaders in tech. From a degree-agnostic background, Academy selects the top 0.5% of talent – making it more selective than Google, and 10x more competitive than Harvard.

Through a transformative rapid training experience, Academy accelerates them into tech roles and leadership trajectories – with a training NPS of 75 that is almost twice the 41 reported for Harvard Business School.

Beating society on both performance and diversity

Academy is showing that high performance doesn’t have to come at the cost of high diversity – whilst just 0.5% of applicants are accepted, over 50% are female, over 60% are from minority ethnic backgrounds, and 30% identify as Black.

This is made possible by cutting through economic barriers: Academy’s training programme is zero-tuition, grant-funded and remote-first, making it accessible to anybody with an internet connection.

This makes Academy a powerful engine of social mobility: even though many of Academy’s trainees come from non-STEM backgrounds, the average employment salary is higher than Computer Science graduates from some of the UK’s leading Russell Group universities, like Durham and Bristol.

Case study partnership with a future unicorn

Beamery, recently valued at $800M in their Series C, have been working with Academy to identify, train and accelerate their future leaders in software engineering with twin ambitions of high performance and high focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The partnership has included nurturing of both technical and leadership skills for incoming hires and existing employees, including workshops on mentoring, ongoing leadership coaching and core technical training.

Through the partnership, seven individuals are joining Beamery in software engineering roles – achieving a cohort diversity of 57% female and 43% minority ethnic background – as a key part of Beamery’s commitment to increasing access to opportunities.

Building the future leaders of the tech industry

By drawing non-traditional backgrounds into tech, Academy is building an infrastructure and community of future leaders in tech that has traditionally been the exclusive preserve of the consulting, banking and accounting industries.

Already, Academy is seeing some big successes in selling a career in tech to the best and brightest – enlisting trainees who have turned down or left graduate roles at BCG, Citibank and Deloitte, alongside others with backgrounds in entrepreneurship, law and public sector work.

Ashley Ramrachia, founder and CEO of Academy said:

“Too many of the most talented individuals are not able to access careers in technology – creating a talent bottleneck for the whole of the tech industry. If we are to build a globally successful tech industry then we need the best people starting their careers in technology at fast-growing companies – the exact talent blueprint that drove THG to its multi-billion dollar success. This funding round will help Academy to create that common talent and leadership infrastructure for the most ambitious companies.”

Saul Klein, co-founder of LocalGlobe, said:

“Academy has put together an inspirational team of executives who have first hand experience of recruiting for some of the world’s best tech companies at scale, and for developing talent that takes those companies to the next level.  Academy graduates are the future leaders of the tech sector’s best companies. Ash’s proven track record, dedication to the industry and his sheer determination to see people reach their full potential is awesome to behold and will bring huge dividends to those companies that partner with his team.”  

Michael Paterson, co-founder and CTO at Beamery, said:

“Identifying and nurturing high-calibre talent at a grass roots level will help to address issues in the market that the skills gap poses. We partnered with Academy not only to help find brilliant future leaders, but to put repeatable systems and processes in place to ensure that a career, and not just a job, is available to all – whatever the academic or social background. Academy’s approach to combining diverse talent with a first-rate technical education aligns with Beamery’s aim of creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable tech future.”

Sharon Akaka, Founding Scholar at Academy, and junior full stack developer at Beryl, said:

 “Academy is everything that I was looking for and more. A career in tech seemed closed to me without taking on debt for training, and I had accepted long evenings ahead as a self-taught engineer. Academy helped me to rapidly acquire the technical skills that I needed and gave me tools to accelerate my personal development and leadership ability.”

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