As immersive education startup AltSchool announces an exciting $100 million Series B, it’s increasingly clear that integrating technology and traditional education is vital.
The foundation of AltSchool is simple. Make education customizable, immersive, non-restrictive, and most importantly, scalable.
Max Ventilla, the company’s Founder and CEO, started the school to resurrect education from the 19th century.
Currently based in San Francisco, the team serves students from Pre-kindergarten to 8th grade.
What AltSchool is too young adolescents, Make School is for computer science majors and budding startup founders: An alternative to the traditional, non-experiential model currently grounding the majority of our education system.
Ashu Desai and Jeremy Rossmann created Make School when they recognized that their time as freshmen at UCLA and MIT was failing to provide them with real world experiences.
Having built and sold over 50,000 copies of an app while still in high school, Ashu craved the freedom and exhilaration of bringing a product to market.
The way he puts it, and I agree, is that “there’s no educational ecosystem around creation and experimentation.”
The process of how do I take something that is an idea and knock down whatever barriers are in my way to teach myself how to learn these new skills…[To] make sure that nothing is going to prevent me, and I’ll never take no for an answer.
Experimenting with real projects is the core tenet Ashu and Jeremy built Make School on back in 2012.
The program is divided into two eight month semesters and one six-month internship at companies like Snapchat, Pandora, and Edmodo.
Eleven students are studying in their founding class and 50 new students are set to join the crop in September.
In an additional effort to steer clear of traditional education, there’s no cost to attend Make School. Students pay their dues through their internship earnings as well as during their first two years working.
The payment model is rooted in the founders’ desire to ensure that Make School is accessible to any student who is passionate about coding.
Similar to AltSchool, there’s no typical day for a Make School student. Although students work on projects designed by the team to ensure mastery of skills, they’re encouraged to build software that solves their individual problems and others they see in the community.
One of the most exciting apps is Refuge Restrooms. The iOS app enables gender non-conforming individuals to find safe restrooms.
For Ashu, Harlan’s app represents the essence of Make School.
This app isn’t going to be the next billion dollar company but what it does, is it solves a really strong need that an underserved community has.
For me, it’s amazing to think that our students are learning and are able to create something that will make a difference in the world.
As I reflected on the apps being created by Make School students, I was reminded of an insight Spotify’s design lead Tobias Schneider shared about Steve Jobs:
“There’s a famous Steve Jobs interview where he talks about the moment he realized that the world was defined and built by people who were no smarter than him. It was the same moment he knew that he was free to make anything possible.”
Ashu is noticing the same drive with Make School students and he used our time together to highlight their work.
To learn more about the Make School model, how you can apply, and the new frontier of computer science education tune into Ashu’s 33founders interview.
Here’s a glimpse of what we discuss:
- The Make School model
- The importance of immersive and experiential learning
- The top three forces motivating students
- Student projects
- How to apply to Make School
- Why coding is a creative pursuit
- How to balance your startup life and personal life
- Ashu and Jeremy’s experiences at Y Combinator