When it is looked at, purely as a business, the New England based Startup Institute seems like a young entrepreneur's dream. With less than two years of existence under its belt, the youthful enterprise has experienced rapid growth, evolving from a company that offered its services for free to a popular entity that now charges thousands of dollars. For the "customers," it's more than worth it.
"The innovation economy is where the growth is going to be," says Christina Wallace. "It's the only place where I can actually see a true trajectory towards my careers in the next 20, 30 to 40 years and this is a place that I'm not going to get outsourced from."
Wallace is the Harvard Business School graduate who oversees the Startup Institute's New York office. Since opening in June, the Big Apple branch has carried on a project that hit the ground in Boston: tailoring the skills of prospective employees to fit the unique needs of growing startups across the country.
"It came out of a recognition that you need more than founders and engineers to scale a company," Wallace said in an interview with Tech Zule at SXSW before going on to explain the direct problem her company seeks to solve."All these companies need talent and all this talent wants to work at start-ups and yet they weren't able to find each other."
According to the Chicago Tribune, after emerging in the New York tech scene colloquially known at Silicon Alley, the institute is bringing it's 8-week, $5000 curriculum to the Windy City. Startup Institute, which boasts a 90% employment rate for graduates and hosts classes with an average age of 28, announced plans to open up a third branch in the city that Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel says is poised to become a big-time player in the tech industry.
"Three years from now [Chicago will] be known as the startup city if we do everything right," Emanuel is quoted as saying in the Tribune. "...We are going to be the digital Mecca of the Midwest."
The process of expanding Chicago into what Mayor Emanuel thinks it could be can only be accelerated by the work of companies like Startup Institute, boasting pertinent courses in marketing, software development, product design and business development using a style suited towards the objectives of budding companies.
It's no wonder that local entrepreneurs are already feeling the buzz and trying to get in on the action, with Chief executives and CEOs of companies based in the Second City lining up to instruct some of Startup Institute courses.
It makes sense-- after all, bosses are inclined to have invested interest in companies similar to Startup Institute.
"For tech entrepreneurs — like myself — that are based outside of Silicon Valley, these startup schools have proved to be excellent resources for hiring incredible employees who are prepared to start right out of the box," said Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless, and a contributed article for Venture Beat. Talent is an important discussion for any startup, because the right mix equals success, scale, and a unique culture that aids a company’s mission and day-to-day impact."
When you consider what Startup Insitute has already achieved and the model of their business, it's easy to understand how they've managed such rapid growth. They've found a huge market that needed to be served: young people want jobs at cool, trendy startups and CEOs want young, creative minds that are ready to work at a fast pace and ready to build a company from the ground up without cutting through all the red tape.
Everybody wins when it comes to the company that's revolutionizing the way business education is done.
“Our vision is to change professional education by coupling curriculum to industry needs rather than research," said Aaron O'Hearn, CEO and co-founder of Startup Institute, to readwrite.com. "Because we're decentralizing the curriculum creation and delivery, we're not bound by traditional educational infrastructure. This allows us to operate at a much lower cost, and remain agile alongside the changing needs of high-growth technology startups.”
That vision has attracted students from places abroad, such as England, Costa Rica, Italy and Nigeria, while there has been interest in using Startup Institute's model in other places like Atlanta, Detroit and even Kuwait, from people who can't believe that such a good idea had not been executed earlier.
Asked about the first thing people think when they hear of Startup Institute, Christina Wallace said to Tech Zulu, "This seems so obvious, why hasn't it existed yet?"
Not only does it exist, but, under directors like O'Hearn and Wallace, Startup Institute is thriving with only signs of increased popularity and production on their revolutionary horizon.
Photo courtesy Forbes