Apprenticeship Startup WhiteHat Raises $16m Series A Led by Index Ventures, Signs Up 250 Employers and Prepares to Expand its Outstanding Alternative to University
WhiteHat places and delivers innovative training to apprentices at over 250 world class employers, including BP, Facebook, Salesforce, Publicis, Santander, Kantar and Clifford Chance.
Funding will be used to accelerate growth, expand to other parts of the U.K. and open the apprenticeship programme to a new cohort of top employers
WhiteHat prepares the next generation of leaders for incredible careers, offering an outstanding alternative to a traditional university education
London, 14 July, 2019 – WhiteHat, a tech startup building an outstanding alternative to university through apprenticeships, has today announced a $16m fundraise and substantial growth, with over 250 employers including BP, Facebook, Salesforce, Publicis, Santander, Kantar, Bulb and Clifford Chance now operating WhiteHat apprenticeship programmes. The Series A round was led by Index Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.
The funding will enable WhiteHat to open up its apprenticeship programmes to a new cohort of top employers looking to plug their skills gap, hire diverse and high potential talent and develop existing employees. Currently available in London, WhiteHat will soon begin its expansion across the UK, starting with Leeds.
Founded in 2016, WhiteHat matches ambitious non-graduate talent to professional services and digital roles, then delivers innovative and job-relevant applied learning over the course of their apprenticeship. WhiteHat has over 1000 career starters applying to join their elite apprenticeship programmes every week. Recognising this, many of the best employers are ditching a degree as a prerequisite for employment, enabling them to tap less traditional talent pools in their bid to get ahead of the competition.
With the rising cost of higher education, the opportunity to work for such world-class employers is a compelling choice for many young people.
“Today, if you want a great career the assumption is you go to university, but spiralling costs of higher education, lack of diversity in leadership positions, and a major global skills gap in digital and tech are all evidence that this model isn’t working,” said Euan Blair Co-founder and CEO of WhiteHat.
“At WhiteHat we’re building an outstanding alternative to university. Our apprentices get the job they want, the training and qualifications to succeed and a coach to help them excel, all while earning from day 1. With no debt, no wasted time and the opportunity to learn relevant and desirable skills, this is the future of work and education.”
Companies based in England with a payroll of over £3m a year or more can take advantage of their Apprentice Levy to fund these apprenticeship programmes.
WhiteHat offers apprenticeships in digital marketing and social media, software development, project management, data analysis, customer success, accounting and leadership and management. Alongside their job, apprentices receive high impact applied learning, delivered by WhiteHat through expert coaching sessions and access to cutting edge content from partnerships with leading providers such as General Assembly, Flatiron School, Mind Gym and Grant Thornton. Participants also join a thriving online and offline community of other apprentices where they get access to societies, socials, meetups, networking events, sports teams and the Apprentice Hacktivist and Influencer programmes.
“We know diversity is crucial for the success of any business. Companies have been investing in outreach and work experience but despite effort and money being spent on these initiatives, these haven’t moved the needle in increasing employee diversity.” said Sophie Adelman, Co-founder & President of WhiteHat. “Apprenticeships provide a practical and impactful way for companies to access diverse talent pools and build the skills they need, whilst supporting social mobility and creating future leaders.”
WhiteHat has over 750 apprentices, 65% of which are from BAME backgrounds and this month launched its free coding summer school for young women across London looking to pursue careers in software engineering. Almost 50% of WhiteHat apprentices have claimed free school meals, an indicator of social deprivation.
“Every year hundreds of thousands of talented, ambitious and driven young people enter the workforce, but because they don’t have a university degree, they are often overlooked by top employers. WhiteHat is making sure that doesn’t happen,” said Danny Rimer, partner at Index Ventures who joins the board of WhiteHat. “The high level of interest from employers is a reflection of the urgent need for talent and the quality of the programme the WhiteHat team has built. We are excited to work with Sophie and Euan to get as many of these talented young people as possible into exciting and rewarding jobs, kickstarting their careers.”
Partner at Lightspeed Ventures and member of WhiteHat’s board, Nakul Mandan said, “WhiteHat, via its apprenticeship marketplace and training platform, is redefining what it means to get a great start to your career, and is doing it with a business model that democratizes access to that great start for the youth of today. Equally, it is providing employers a real way to solve the skills gap issue that almost all large enterprises face. It’s not surprising to us that some of the world’s best companies are choosing WhiteHat as their primary apprenticeship provider. We’re thrilled to have partnered with Euan and Sophie early in their journey, and excited for the positive impact the company is making.”
“As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, there is a pressing need for reskilling and job training. Salesforce Ventures is excited to invest in WhiteHat as they democratise access to the best careers through an innovative apprenticeship model, allowing more opportunities for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Alex Kayyal, Partner at Salesforce Ventures. “At Salesforce, we are committed to workforce development through a diverse set of initiatives, including the apprentices we’ve on-boarded at Salesforce here in London.”
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Quotes from Employers using WhiteHat Apprenticeship Programmes
“BP has been focused on education and social mobility for decades now. It’s a value we deeply stand for in the UK and globally. When we first started partnering with WhiteHat on apprenticeships, I knew it was a good idea and a great concept. But only a few months ago when I met some BP apprentices from the first cohort, I fully realised we had made a great choice. The maturity, drive and passion exhibited by some of the apprentices blew me away. Euan, Sophie and team you’re on to something truly important. Thank you so much for opening up a new dimension of much needed skills coming into the corporate world” Helmut Schuster, HR Director, BP
“It wasn’t just about understanding the skill requirements and roles, we needed an apprenticeships provider who understood the company’s unique working culture and could help us connect with a new cohort of diverse talent to add a new perspective to our business and client work. The relationship from the first day we met with WhiteHat was positive, transparent and collaborative with no overpromising. It was clear that Sophie and her team understood the market, and landscape, and we felt they would be a collaborative partner.” James Brewin, Director of Recruitment, Publicis Media
“WhiteHat showed us that apprentices belong in our business. They helped us find apprentices who will grow and evolve with Bulb and taught us how to help them succeed” Meera Patel, Talent and Diversity Specialist, Bulb
“We want a workforce that represents the population, because for us inclusion, diversity and social mobility are important. To build this you need to start from the bottom and filter up to the top, apprenticeships are a way to do this. The most valuable thing WhiteHat brings to the table is knowledge. If I ever have a question, they always know how to answer it.” Emma Bond, Global Lead of Entry Level Hiring, Kantar
“We wanted to utilise the Levy and find a better way to recruit for entry-level talent. But beyond that, we wanted to diversify our talent pool. It was really new for us but WhiteHat was always there to guide us, provide advice and find us great candidates. What makes them a great partner is that they go above and beyond what we would expect an apprenticeships provider to deliver. Our Account Manager Abbi has really become our apprenticeships guru, she helps us in so many ways.” Laura Tomsett, Recruitment Advisor, Christie’s
Quotes from WhiteHat Apprentices:
“I’m passionate about engaging with young people of colour and encouraging them to challenge themselves. Being Vice President of the WhiteHat community I have been able to visit many schools and engage young people and teachers with the WhiteHat mission. I especially enjoyed speaking at a Muslim community centre to parents and challenging their perceptions of what apprenticeships can be. I have built my confidence in public speaking and community engagement. It’s been an amazing experience so far.
Not only that, but through setting up regular social events we’ve been able to build a stronger and closer apprentice community. I have made some strong friends and expanded my professional network too, by meeting and sharing experiences with others in the community.
My digital presence and online personal brand has also improved as a result of being a hacktivist and VP. I have been contacted on LinkedIn by people interested in the work I do, I’m a role model for other apprentices looking to build their personal brand and even WhiteHat has been contacted about my work and as a result I was invited to speak at the IFATE conference.
I can’t believe how much I have learned so far and how many different people I have met. And I’m not even done yet.” Zaynah Din, WhiteHat Digital Marketing Apprentice at Facebook
“I started looking into an Apprenticeship once I decided that I was not ready to face the University tuition and maintenance loans. Now I can say that the WhiteHat higher-level apprenticeship opportunity has been the answer to everything that I have wanted in beginning my career.” Nancy Barimah, Marketing Apprentice
“During my last year of sixth-form, I realised that going on to university was not ideal for me, as I’ve always worked well in environments where I can apply my learning straightaway. Since joining WhiteHat it has exceeded my expectations. To put it simply, WhiteHat has acted as my apprenticeship recruiter, coach, qualification provider and career-starter.” Jamiliah Simpson, Digital Apprentice, Google
“The most valuable thing from my Apprenticeship has been to take the learnings from the course and apply them to my day to day role, ensuring that I work more effectively and efficiently. It has also given me the opportunity to self-assess my own strengths and work on areas for improvement, giving me more confidence in the workplace to make decisions and engage in new activities.” Laura Tomsett, Project Management Apprentice, Christies
WhiteHat is a tech startup on a mission to create a diverse group of future leaders. They are doing this by building an outstanding alternative to university through apprenticeships. WhiteHat focuses on three core areas: giving employers a framework for measuring potential outside of academics and work experience through their platform; bringing incredible content from around the world into applied learning programmes; growing an apprentice community to enable young people to build social capital and strong professional networks. In the U.K., WhiteHat is at the forefront of enabling companies to use the apprenticeship levy to train a diverse group of future leaders in the technical skills they need. www.whitehat.org.uk
About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a London and San Francisco-based international venture capital firm that helps the most ambitious entrepreneurs turn bold ideas into global businesses. Index-backed companies that are reshaping the world around us include Deliveroo, Dropbox, Farfetch, Revolut and Slack. To learn more, visit www.indexventures.com.
About Lightspeed Venture Partners
Lightspeed Venture Partners is a venture capital firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the Enterprise and Consumer sectors. Over the past two decades, the Lightspeed team has backed hundreds of entrepreneurs and helped build more than 350 companies globally, including Snap, The Honest Company, GrubHub, Nest, Nutanix, AppDynamics, and MuleSoft. The firm currently manages over $9 billion of committed capital and invests in the U.S. and internationally, with investment professionals and advisors in Silicon Valley, Israel, India and China. www.lsvp.com
About Salesforce Ventures
Salesforce is the fastest growing top five enterprise software company and the #1 CRM provider globally. Salesforce Ventures—the company’s corporate investment group—invests in the next generation of enterprise technology that extends the power of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform, helping companies connect with their customers in entirely new ways. Portfolio companies receive funding as well as access to the world’s largest cloud ecosystem and the guidance of Salesforce’s innovators and executives. With Salesforce Ventures, portfolio companies can also leverage Salesforce’s expertise in corporate philanthropy by joining Pledge 1% to make giving back part of their business model. Salesforce Ventures has invested in more than 300 enterprise cloud startups in 20 different countries since 2009. For more information, please visit www.salesforce.com/ventures.