Come fly with me
Announcing Lightspeed’s investment in Flockjay, an online academy to train and support top sales teams.
Today Fast Company announced Lightspeed’s lead investment in Flockjay. The company is building the world’s most accessible onramp into the technology industry, starting with a 12-week, online academy and post-graduate community for sales professionals. I am delighted to work with CEO/founder Shaan Hathiramani, whom I’ve known for over 15 years.
Shaan wrote about the insight that drove him to start Flockjay in a blog post today:
Working across a plethora of top-tier companies, I noticed that even the best firms had difficulty hiring and retaining top sales talent with the necessary digital fluency. There was no credential — no certification — that told companies what made a good tech salesperson. Simply put: no one teaches sales, no one knows how to hire for it, and there’s no correlation between where you went to school (or if you went at all) and how well you’ll do. Over 50% of roles in top tech companies are “non-technical,” and sales reps are often among the highest-paid employees in tech.
Think of it this way: you don’t have to learn code to build a future-proof career in tech. You don’t even need a college degree.
I saw an opportunity to support companies hiring top tier sales talent, while creating new pathways into tech. I wanted to empower people to find new opportunities and to create a new career track — no matter your background.
14.5 million Americans work in sales, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, over 327,000 sell in technical fields, earning a median annual wage of $78,000. An incremental 379,000 Americans work in sales management, earning nearly 60% more on average. These 700,000 U.S. workers earn over $83 billion in aggregate wages each year.
Despite a sizable population of workers, a career path in sales can be haphazard. Almost no top universities teach sales. It’s not “academic” enough for schools like Harvard and Stanford. Unlike computer science, no legacy credential for sales exists in universities. The best training in sales usually occurs on the job, but only a handful of companies are truly world class at training entry-level sales hires and supporting their professional development over time. Further, most companies don’t do a great job of helping their reps fall in love with sales. All that most new sales reps get is a Salesforce account and a list of phone numbers.
Flockjay aims to become the gold standard for training new sales reps and supporting them as they grow. Today, it offers a 12-week introductory course that teaches students to qualify, prospect, and build reliable sales pipelines. It also educates them on modern sales tools and techniques like solution selling. Flockjay’s expert instructors are VPs and SVPs of Revenue/Sales of top software companies like Google, Facebook, Gusto, and Airtable. As the program nears completion, Flockjay helps place students at a similarly curated list of growing technology businesses.
For all this, Flockjay charges $0 up-front to students who wish to finance their education with an Income Share Agreement (ISA). If you’re unfamiliar with ISAs, go ahead and read Erik Torenberg’s excellent overview here. He defines an ISA as:
A financial arrangement where an individual or organization provides something of value to a recipient, who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a certain period of time.
ISAs are an innovative financing mechanism for education because they create alignment between the institution and the student. Flockjay, therefore, only makes money when it (1) admits the right students, (2) educates them well, and (3) places them in jobs where they (4) perform at a high level. Flockjay both “underwrites” the risk of a student’s future success and helps her achieve it.
The company has graduated three batches of students since its first in March 2019. 80% of Flockjay SDRs/BDRs are performing in the top quartile at their new employer, ramping 6 weeks faster than their peers on average. A handful get promoted to AE, in half of time of their peers. Importantly, its graduates have seen a 2.5x average salary increase since starting Flockjay!
At Lightspeed, we’re delighted to welcome a diverse set of co-investors in this seed round, including Y-Combinator (W19), Coatue, Index, Serena Ventures (Serena Williams), Dreamers VC (Will Smith & family), John Thompson (Chairman of Microsoft), F7, SV Angel, Paul Buccheit, Tom Willerer (Netflix, Coursera) and Liat Bycel (Airtable).
Interested in transitioning to a career in sales? Come join the flock!
Flockjay | Learn tech sales. Get a top tech job. 💪
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