Two decades ago, in 1999, a 13-year old computer-science enthusiast rued at the lack of online courses to learn programming languages. He decided to create his own online course explaining how to create a website.
The project later grew through its community of users, under the name “Le Site du Zero”. Its purpose was to offer a wide variety of online courses for free to people with initially no knowledge.
Founding a company
His name: Pierre Dubuc. Later joined by Mathieu Nebra, one of the first users of the platform, they together launched a company in 2007. Starting from “Le site du Zero”, they transformed it into a professional service and called it OpenClassrooms.
At the time, the company had a large community but no funds and no experience in entrepreneurship. Both founders were young and had just started their engineering studies.
They needed much more than money: they needed help and advice to grow their model and their goals. That is when Alven Capital came in: sensing OpenClassrooms potential, they continuously invested in it:
- €1.2M in 2012
- €1M in 2014 and
- €6M in 2016
What a top VC firm can bring
Alven Capital has had many successes in the web services industry, such as SeLoger.com, MonShowRoom or Liligo. They brought expertise and guided OpenClassrooms to their current business model.
Initially generating revenues from advertisement, the start-up turned to a premium subscription service.
Moreover, the website gained in professionalism:
- more content was produced by teachers
- certification reached state-recognized diplomas
- mentors were recruited to follow the evolution of students
OpenClassrooms became a real educational platform!
The model is gaining recognition by both public and private actors.
Founders have now set a goal to help college dropouts and unemployed people gain skills that are attractive to companies, thus helping them get jobs.
OpenClassrooms also works hand-in-hand with companies to train their employees. The startup is adding a B2B model to its initial B2C one.
There is no information relative to the valuation of the company, but let’s bet it’s pretty high… and rising.
OpenClassrooms has grown its community from 40,000 users to three million visitors in 2018. Its last fundraising reached €50.9M, the largest fundraising in EdTech to date. Alven Capital took a small part to it (less than €10M), to avoid dilution on its initial investment (less than €8M).