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Marquee tech investors back coding bootcamp start-up Rocket Academy to address global talent shortage  

  • Fundraise: Rocket Academy raises $1.1m in pre-seed funding from consortium of business angels
  • Demand: Over the past 3 months, demand for their Coding Basics course has increased 10x
  • Growth: Rocket Academy is actively hiring to double its headcount by end 2021 to address global talent shortage of developers, expected to reach 85.2m in 2030
  • Impact: 100% of students who graduate from Rocket Academy bootcamp course secure jobs

Rocket Academy, a start-up providing online coding courses, today announced it has raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding. The investment comes from a consortium of 50 marquee tech investors and venture capitalists including entrepreneurs Darius Cheung from 99.co, Marcus Tan from Carousell and Stanley Tang from DoorDash, former Singapore Ambassador to the UN Kishore Mahbubani, SEA tech leaders’ investment network XA Network, and VC firms Taurus Ventures and Hustle Fund. Rocket Academy will use this funding to grow the company into the leading coding school in Southeast Asia helping to address the current industry-wide shortage in software engineers.

Rocket Academy has developed two courses to date: Coding Basics, an introductory course for beginners to learn the basics of coding; andSoftware Engineering Bootcamp (SEB), which prepares students for a career in software engineering. All course material is pre-recorded for students to review and complete at their own pace. Rocket Academy holds regular live classes over Zoom for students to clarify concepts with instructors, apply learning in pair exercises and network with classmates. Classes are online allowing greater flexibility and efficiency, and the course platform allows high levels of engagement between students and teachers.

Kai Yuan Neo, Founder and CEO at Rocket Academy commented: “There is a mounting global talent shortage of developers around the world. As of December 2020 this amounted to 40 million developers worldwide. By 2030, that is expected to reach 85.2 million. Not only this but companies worldwide risk losing $8.4 trillion in revenue because of the lack of skilled talent. Rocket Academy exists to solve this equation and we are on a mission to scale further and faster.”

In addition to teaching, Rocket Academy helps its SEB graduates find their dream software engineering jobs through resume development, portfolio development and interview preparation. Rocket Academy leverages its network of companies sourcing for software engineers, makes referrals and helps set up job interviews for SEB graduates. To date, Rocket Academy has a 100% success rate in placing SEB graduates in software engineering jobs within companies and organisations such as 99.co, Xfers, Glints, GovTech, and GoTrade.

“Getting our students good jobs is our top priority. The better jobs our students get, the stronger our alumni network becomes, which enables us to find better jobs for future students,” said Neo Kai Yuan Neo. “Over the past months the demand for our SEB graduates from businesses has doubled. So far we have successfully placed all SEB graduates. We are so confident that our SEB graduates will find coding jobs that we will refund their fees if they still cannot find a job 6 months after graduation.”

Although Rocket Academy is a small start-up, it has lofty ambitions – to train and supply the best software engineers in the region. Rocket Academy will invest its pre-seed funding in two key areas. First, further developing its flagship products, Coding Basics and Software Engineering Bootcamp courses. This involves strengthening course curriculum and improving the learning platform to boost the student experience. Second, expanding to new markets, specifically Hong Kong and Australia in the short term, other Southeast Asian markets in the medium term, and then globally in the long term.

To succeed, Rocket Academy will need the best software engineering and education talents to craft its student experience. The company prides itself on a work environment with highest-calibre peers, transparent company progress, decentralised decision making, and flexible work arrangements. Rocket Academy is actively hiring and targets to double its headcount by end 2021.

“Over the past 3 months we have seen a 10-fold increase in demand for our Coding Basics course and a 4-fold increase in demand for our SEB course. We are regularly in touch with businesses to understand technical skills that software engineers need. This allows us to refine our curriculum to make it relevant and appropriate for students looking for rewarding software engineering careers,” added Neo Kai Yuan.

“Rocket Academy is exactly what Singapore needs now. To get good middle-class jobs, young Singaporeans need to be globally competitive in the digital space. Rocket Academy provides these critical skills. This initiative couldn’t be more timely!” said Kishore Mahbubani, Former Singapore Ambassador to the UN and angel investor in Rocket Academy’s pre-seed round.

About Rocket Academy

Rocket Academy is an online coding bootcamp that trains software engineers and helps graduates find their ideal jobs. Rocket Academy has a Basics course for beginners and a Bootcamp course for aspiring software engineers. Rocket Academy’s comprehensive courses support students at every level as they progress to become professional programmers. For more information please visit: www.rocketacademy.co .

About XA Network

The XA Network was founded in 2018 as an investment network comprising senior executives from leading global and regional technology companies. Our purpose is to foster inclusive innovation by empowering the tech community in Southeast Asia.

XA focuses on early-stage investments. Founders value our members’ distinguished backgrounds as entrepreneurs and senior business builders. Furthermore, our portfolio companies are able to tap into the collective power of deep-rooted networks and expertise across business strategy, product development, and fundraising. XA has invested in a wide variety of sectors and over 30 companies since 2018, including Spenmo, Neuron, Sampingan, Intellect, and Bukukas. XA Network is also an LP in Vertex Southeast Asia and India’s latest fund. For more information, please visit www.xanetwork.co

Rocket Academy’s founding story

Upon graduating from Stanford University in 2015 with a Computer Science degree, Kai Yuan had interned at Alibaba and Facebook and joined healthcare data analytics start-up Nuna Health in San Francisco. He moved to Jakarta in 2018 as an engineering manager at student financing start-up ErudiFi. While building his team he realised how difficult it was to hire good engineers, and that all tech companies faced this problem. Upon further research, Kai Yuan found that aspiring software engineers usually pick up their skills in one of two ways: 1) Short coding courses that typically lack depth, and 2) Longer, expensive and more theoretical university courses.

As neither route is ideal, Kai Yuan decided there was room for a product in the middle: a course longer and more comprehensive than traditional coding bootcamps, but shorter, more practical and more affordable than university courses. He set up Rocket Academy in 2019 as an online coding school to train the best software engineers across the region in the shortest time possible. Akira Wong, CTO and Head of Education at Rocket Academy joined in 2020 after 3 years as Software Engineering Lead Instructor at General Assembly in New York and Singapore.

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