Galvanize CEO Opens Up About $18M Round, Plan to Create Ed Startup

6/18/14Follow @MichaelXBD

Ever since Jim Deters and his co-founders launched Galvanize in Denver in October 2012, they’ve emphasized what they call the three C’s: community, capital, and curriculum.

But, given Galvanize’s impressive co-working spaces in Denver, San Francisco, and Boulder, CO—as well as the Galvanize Ventures seed fund expected to total $7 million that it has quietly raised—that third C tended to get overlooked.

Now that might change, following the official closing of Galvanize’s $18 million Series A round. Xconomy first reported that Galvanize raised money earlier this month, but now the round has closed and Deters, Galvanize’s CEO, is talking.

“We’re building something that we think is the future of education,” Deters said.

The round, led by University Ventures Fund, will be used to expand Galvanize’s “gSchool” education program to new cities, bolster its faculty, and add to its curriculum. The program offers full-time, 24-week courses to train software developers, as well as part-time workshops. The full-time courses cost between $20,000 and $23,000.

The gSchool has been part of Galvanize since it opened in Denver, and classes have expanded to Boulder and will soon to San Francisco. The classes are intended to turn novices into skilled, seasoned developers ready to work for a tech company. Experienced developers teach each class, and the curriculum will adapt to new trends in the industry and to meet the hiring needs of local companies, Deters said.

“We’ve invested extremely heavily in building what we think is the best curriculum ever and in making it extensible. A big part of this funding will be extending our curriculum across other [programming] languages, across other capabilities and skill sets,” Deters said.

He said currently the program covers “the full stack” and includes instruction that covers programming languages, such as Ruby on Rails and Javascript, and user interface and experience design. Over time it will add new modules, like one covering the Google Go programming language.

Galvanize also will invest heavily in its teaching staff.

“We’re trying to build a faculty that blends both educators and practitioners in a way that’s never been done before,” Deters said. “That’s important, because an educator might be good at educating, but they don’t have real-world experience, but if you’re just a practitioner and you’ve never taught somebody, you might not know the best ways to build a learning environment and to build a deep curriculum.”

The principle behind the gSchool is Deters’s belief that there’s a gap between how colleges and universities are training developers and the skills companies need. There’s also a severe shortage of qualified developers, and Deters believes that creates a huge opportunity for the people who figure out the fastest, most economical way to produce qualified developers.

Other people seem to agree this model has potential and have similar programs in the works. One of the most notable and established is New York City-based General Assembly. It was launched in 2011 … Next Page »

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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