As much as we may hate to admit it, networking often plays a role in career success. While some may rise to the top of the ranks through sheer grit and determination, the people you know and the opportunities given to you in life usually separates the haves from the have-nots. Not everyone has the training, education or connections to land a high-paying job in an in-demand industry. Many people have additional barriers to overcome, such as the lack of a university degree, caretaking responsibilities, health problems or immense debt, making it even more difficult to try to better themselves.
At SV Academy, founders Rahim Fazal and Joel Scott have weathered several twists and turns on their paths towards career success and they want to give others a helping hand.
“We couldn’t have done it alone, and you shouldn’t have to,” the duo wrote on the company’s website. “That’s why we founded SV Academy—to help hardworking Americans break into the tech industry and become part of a lifelong community of high performers. We believe there is no better way to start your career than in business development, and we’ll show you how.”
Rahim grew up in public housing and doesn’t have an undergraduate degree. While growing his first startup, he won the Empact Award from Startup America and The Kauffman Foundation at The White House and was the youngest person to be admitted to the MBA programme at Ivey Business School without a degree. At the age of 21, Rahim was the youngest CEO ever to head a publicly traded company.
He understands firsthand the importance of determination, guidance and support.
“All bets were against me from the get-go,” he said in a press release. “The only reason I am where I am today is because someone in my life believed in me. We want to do that for a million people in the next ten years.”
The 12-week, part-time, fully online, tuition-free programme focuses on business development and teaches human-centred skills—no coding skills necessary. The academy also links students with mentors at some of the top tech companies in the world, including Google, LinkedIn and Facebook.
In addition, 100 percent of students receive full-time jobs with a median starting salary of $79,000, equity and benefits, access to an immense network of industry connections, and ongoing training and mentorship for a year after completing the programme.
“SV Academy opened up doors I never knew existed,” said Sasha Green, a graduate of SV Academy. “A few years ago, I graduated from an MBA program costing thousands of dollars out of pocket and couldn’t land a job anywhere. SV Academy turned my world around. Through the fellowship, I received a mentor from Google, job placement at Experity and access to a network of thousands of tech leaders. SV Academy was a launchpad for my career; my experience took me from sales to customer success, and now I have come full circle, returning to the company as a member of the admissions team.”
Not surprisingly, SV Academy has more interest than it can handle. According to TechCrunch, the programme receives 1,000 applications per week. The SV Academy student body consists of 40 percent African Americans or Latinx, 60 percent women, and 70 percent first-generation university graduates; 70 percent of graduates are promoted within the first year.
The company was initially backed by $2 million that it raised from Bloomberg Beta, Rethink Education, Precursor Ventures, Uprising Ventures, 500 Startups and WTI. Recently, SV Academy landed $9.5 million in Series A funding in a round led by Owl Ventures with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Kapor Capital, Rethink Education, Strada Education Network and Uprising.
“We are always on the lookout for companies solving education problems head-on,” said Amit Patel, managing director at Owl Ventures. “With SV Academy, we saw a great opportunity to partner with an organization changing the online education landscape. By focusing on human-skills like problem-solving and efficient communication, SV Academy equips graduates with expertise impossible to replicate with computers.”
The funds will be used to help more people across the US find in-demand tech jobs without needing to learn how to code.
Saad Sherida al-Kaabi
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber