Austen Allred, Co-Founder and CEO of Lambda School

Shubham Datta
Dec 19, 2018 · 5 min read

We wrap up 2018 with this special episode where I chat with Austen Allred, Co-Founder and CEO of Lambda School.

Joining me on this special episode of the Backbone is Austen Allred, Co-Founder and CEO of Lambda School — a training program specializing in coding, computer science, and web development, with a revolutionary tuition model that asks graduates to pay once they land a successful job.

Prior to Lambda School, Austen started a crowd-sourced news creation company, called GrassWire. After traveling from San Francisco to Utah frequently and seeing the disparity in income levels and job training in the community, he formed Lambda School.

On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Austen about:

  1. His journey so far and how it was instrumental in the founding of Lambda School in 2016.
  2. Lambda School and what it’s all about. How Lambda School challenges traditional the university structure?
  3. Employers, credentialing candidates and educating employers to focus on hiring candidates whose experiences and skills best suit them for the job.
  4. Some of the financial challenges and risks associated with Lambda School’s revenue model and how to raise capital for such a model? (Lambda School has a unique revenue model in that the company does not require students to pay up front for their training. Instead they are taking a bet on the student’s career prospects for the first 2 years after they graduate Lambda School, to take a % of their earnings.)
  5. Whether Lambda School would consider expanding its offering over time, to other aspects of training such as sales, marketing, and finance?

We close things off with a quickfire round:

  • Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related
  • Your favourite productivity hack
  • Tech jargon that makes you cringe
  • The best advise you’ve received
  • One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing

Take a listen:

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Check out previous episodes of The Backbone

Episode 26: Lessons Learned from Raising $32M Growth Round + the Symbiotic Relationship Between Finance & Operations w/ Samiksha Khanna, VP Finance and Operations at Uberflip

Episode 25: Correlating Non-Financial Metrics into Financial Outcomes + Balancing Ad-load & Revenue Generated Through Sponsored Content w/ Trisha Egberts, Finance Manager at Figure1

Episode 24: Learnings from Starting and Shutting Down a Startup + Balancing Multiple Product Stakeholders w/ Mark Jarvie, VP Finance at Drop

Episode 23: Learnings from Raising/Exiting $700M+ in Deal Value for Software + Hardware and the Importance of a People-First Approach in Finance w/ David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee

Episode 22: Raising $47M from Strategic vs Traditional VC & the Level of Finance Leader to Hire at Each Stage of a Company’s Evolution w/ Danielle Cerisano, VP Finance at League

Episode 21: Using Analytics and Predictive Models to Improve Budgeting + the Role of Attribution in Assessing Digital Marketing ROI w/ Emma Lyndon, CFO at Canopy Labs

Episode 20: Considerations for CAC and Churn in a Self-Serve Pricing Model w/ Matt Dove, VP Finance at Celtx

Episode 19: The Journey of Raising $100M ICO (Initial Coin Offering) as a Venture-Backed Unicorn w/ Brandon Brunet, Controller at Kik

Episode 18: Bootstrapped to $12M Series A & What it Means for the Finance Function w/ Jennifer Pollock, Director of Finance & Operations at RateHub

Episode 17: The Added Complexities of Hardware Tech Companies & How to Price a New Medical Device w/ Travis Phung, Director of Finance & Administration at Exact Imaging

Episode 16: Monetizing a Free Product & Navigating Complexities of the Financial Services Space w/ Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell

Episode 15: Serving the Restaurant Industry & Breaking Into Tech in a Finance Capacity w/ Rob Curcio, Director of Finance at TouchBistro

Episode 14: Scaling the Finance Function, Fundraising, Making Acquisitions & Operationalizing Metrics w/ Ryan Magee, Chief Financial Officer at Cority

Episode 13: Serving the SMB Market at a Publicly Traded Software Company vs a High-Growth Startup w/ Darren Wood, Director of Finance & Operations at Jobber

Episode 12: Leading Finance at NPOs to High Growth Tech & Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital w/ Anthony Scolaro, VP Finance & Operations at Lucova

Episode 11: Raising $17M Series A Round & What it Means to be ‘Venture-Backed w/ Frank Jessop, Director of Finance, Sensibill

Episode 10: Vendor Selection Considerations & Viewing the Finance Function from an Engineering Perspective w/ Gerti Dervishi, VP Finance at Flybits

Episode 9: The Process of Acquiring Companies as a Startup & Best Practices for Investor Relations w/ Ryan Levenberg, VP Finance at Q4 Systems Inc.

Episode 8: Raising VC Funding to Executing an $110M Acquisition + Demystifying the Progressive Roles of the Finance Leader within a Startupw/ Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ

Episode 7: Going Through an Acquisition of an eCommerce Company & Keeping Both Sides of a Marketplace Happy w/ Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media

Episode 6: From Finance to Founding an IoT Startup & Bootstrapping vs. Raising Venture Capital w/ Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation

Episode 5: Difference Between Being an Advisor vs Finance Leader for Tech Startups & When to Raise Capital w/ Eugene Bomba, CFO & VP Operations at ThoughtWire

Episode 4: Transitioning from Professional Services to Finance Leader of Pre-Revenue Tech Startup w/ Chris Parkes, CFO at NuraLogix

Episode 3: Why Finance & Operations go Together & Dealing with the Highly Regulated Financial Services Industry w/ Leen Li, Head of Finance at Wealthsimple

Episode 2: How Finance Scales Growing from 25 to 200+ Employees & Transfer Pricing w/ Les Cullen, Director Finance & Operations at TopHat

Episode 1: Managing Churn & Being Private Equity Backed w/ Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex


The Backbone is a podcast hosted by Shubham Datta, that explores the journey inside finance at a startup. Each episode features a finance leader (Director/VP, Finance or CFO) that:

  • shares their story of how they entered the world of startups,
  • explains what their company does
  • describes unique challenges he/she faces in their role

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup

Shubham Datta

Written by

Coprorate Develpment @shopify + Host @BackbonePodcast | write about #tech, #investing, #finance, #SaaS | opinions are my own | more: www.shubhamdatta.com

The Backbone

A journey inside finance at a startup

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