Training start-up ‘destroying existing training paradigm’

by Brett Henebery03 Aug 2017
A web training start-up has raised almost $9m from US firm Elephant Venture Capital as it looks to expand its content offering to all major cloud vendors.

The company, called A Cloud Guru, has provided online training in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to more than 250,000 students in 160 countries in less than two years.

Sam Kroonenburg said the start-up was launched in 2015 after he and his brother Ryan recognised that there was a place in the market for the service.

“We're now at 250,000 customers. The next milestone is 1 million and think we can get there in a year. We want to heavily focus on bringing on board corporate deals,” Kroonenburg told The Financial Review.

In an unconventional onboarding strategy, the company hired many of its 40 staff after first meeting them on Twitter, and has employees from a diverse array of countries.

“The guy heading our development team was hired from Twitter. I was joking about the Census failure last year and he replied to my tweet about how it should have been server-less and no one at the time was doing server-less,” Kroonenburg said.

“It turned out he had hooked up his whole garden to the internet of things and it was server-less”.

The man told Kroonenburg that he’d seen him speak at an AWS meet-up in Brisbane, which inspired him to go and set up a project of his own.

“We'd trained our future employee without knowing it,” Kroonenburg said.

Kroonenburg said he and his brother were keen to bring Elephant on board as an investor due to the experience of its co-founder, Andy Hunt, in growing a $US1bn company in a short period of time.

Hunt said he believed he could help A Cloud Guru reach its millionth customer.

“We chose to invest in A Cloud Guru because they're destroying the existing technical training paradigm,” Hunt said.

“It's amazing that they've figured out how to profitably deliver training of this calibre at a price that's accessible to everyone”.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution beckons, the demand for web-based skills – especially in the area of cloud-based technology – is increasing due to the shift in digitisation and automation.

A report released by Cognizant – titled: Augmented Reality: A New Workforce Mobilization Paradigm – offered a glimpse into how this type of technology is boosting learning in the workplace.

The report points out that innovation is a constant in the information technology industry, continuously changing the way services are delivered to the business and to end users.

“From the mainframe era on to the Internet stage, we’re now experiencing the fifth IT wave, an era in which social, mobile, analytics and cloud-based technology are forming a new digital foundation with which to power business,” the report states.

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