By Marcella McCarthy
$4.5M in new funding during the pandemic helps fuel Ironhack's expansion
When Ariel Quinones and Gonzalo Manrique started Ironhack in 2013, little did they know it would grow into a skills retraining school responsible for changing thousands of peoples’ careers around the world.
“This year we’re training 3,000 students,” said Quinones in a recent interview.
Ironhack's team, now in three continents, offers full-time and part-time courses meant to help people break into the tech field. In addition to the classes, they are pretty hell bent on matching their students with jobs through their career services arm. You can find Ironhack grads at Visa, Google, Magic Leap, Reef Technology and many other companies. Ironhack’s boot camps have graduated more than 7,000 students to date, and its global team includes 110 full-time employees plus about 200 contractors.
In 2014, the company expanded to Miami from Madrid, where it was offering web dev and UX/UI boot camps. Now in addition to its Brickell operations, where Quinones is based, Ironhack is in nine cities spanning Europe, Mexico, and Brazil. Most of those locations now also offer classes in data analytics and cybersecurity.
To fund the expansion, Ironhack has raised more than $11 million over the years, including $4.5 million this year in a round that was led by Brighteye Ventures, an ed-tech VC firm based in Europe. That closely follows a $4 million round raised last year.
While boot camps are Ironhack’s bread and butter, Quinones said that in recent years, they’ve developed an enterprise arm to their business: Companies come to them and say, “We want to undergo a digital transformation. Can you train 200 of our employees?” In addition to these mass trainings, companies also sponsor individual employees to take an Ironhack course in order to expand their skillset. One of Ironhack’s newest and biggest clients is the international Spanish bank, Santander.
ADAPTING TO THE PANDEMIC
Ironhack classes have always been in person, in large part because the team believes the best way to learn something is by doing it. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ironhack’s locations were forced to try their hand at remote learning, something they had always been skeptical of. And to their surprise, it’s been a big hit.
“As an outcomes-driven company, we were concerned with how well we’d do with online classes,” Quinones said. But, he added, the metrics are on par with in-person classes. Ironhack has a 4.87 (out of 5) rating on CourseReport, based on more than 900 reviews.
By going virtual, Ironhack can now reach people in markets the team never dreamed of entering. “For a school that was already quite global, we’ve become even more diverse in our reach,” Quinones said, adding that they now have students in places from Asia to Central Florida.
“We’re also seeing people who couldn’t previously make it to our in-person classes sign up,” he said. Examples consist of stay-at-home-parents or those with disabilities.
After successfully adapting to the pandemic, this summer Quinones finally took a breather (no pun intended) and spent a couple weeks in the Dominican Republic meditating. “There was no one there. It was amazing.”