New Entrants in Nontraditional Education

New business schools focus on angel investors and working adults.
New Entrants in Nontraditional Education

WHILE NONTRADITIONAL EDUCATION providers represent intense competition for conventional business schools, they also model what education might look like in the future. Here, we take a look at two new schools, both headquartered in San Francisco, that offer wholly different approaches to management education.

A school for investors: Venture University, which opened in 2018, is a trade school for angel investors, fund managers, entrepreneurs, and others who want to break into venture capital. The school is designed as an investor accelerator and includes a venture capital/private equity investment apprenticeship. 

The first cohort researched more than 800 companies in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and consumer products, and chose four in which to invest. Teams presented their findings at "Reverse Demo Days" in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where they had a chance to meet with venture capitalists and private equity investors.

Venture University's first cohort of 17 individuals was selected from more than 3,200 applicants. The class was about one-quarter female and included individuals from Afghanistan, Austria, the Caribbean, China, India, Iran, Nigeria, and the United States.

"At Venture University we believe venture capital not only has the power to innovate industries and generate significant returns, but can also innovate itself for the benefit of entrepreneurs and investors," says J. Skyler Fernandes, co-founder and general partner at the school.

A school for working adults: FoundryCollege, an online two-year school designed to educate working adults to fill "middle skills" jobs, officially launched in January 2019. It was founded by Stephen M. Kosslyn, former dean of social science at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, and former chief academic officer at the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute.

Kosslyn explains that the college is designed for those who want to gain critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills that will help them obtain better jobs or advance in their current positions. He adds, "There are 46 million adults in the U.S. with some college and no degree, many of whom are particularly susceptible to labor automation."

The college will work closely with industry, in part by partnering with employers to co-design industry-specific tracks. Each class will be designed to provide students with certified competencies. Students will receive no grades-they will advance only as they show mastery of the material. Foundry College plans to apply for accreditation and to award graduates associate degrees in business management.

Admission is open to all candidates who complete the application process- regardless of test scores, previous grades, or academic credentials-but only a limited number of spots are available for the first class. Tuition for the entire program will be waived for all students accepted into the first class.