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Q&A with Kate Cassino, CEO of Flatiron School

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Q: What does Flatiron School do?

Flatiron School is an online and in-person school where anyone can learn job-ready technical skills across software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and product design either to advance in their current job or start an entirely new career. Many of our students’ job placements are made possible by company partners who either hire our graduates or provide Flatiron-led curriculum to their employees. Over the last 10 years, Flatiron School has helped more than 10,000 students gain the skills they need for success.

We believe that the current education system does not always fit the needs of a modern learner and has not been able to produce quality talent at the speed the workforce needs. Today, companies are looking beyond traditional colleges to places like Flatiron School to hire highly skilled employees or to re-skill current employees for the evolving job market.

Q: What attracted you and why did you join?

Flatiron has built an incredible company that makes a positive, life-changing impact. I have spent much of my career in education—ranging from teaching English in the NYC Public School System to leading a global student success company— so I appreciate the importance of leveraging education to improve lives. The continuous evolution and transformation of work and learning, paired with the turmoil of the past few years, create a heightened opportunity for Flatiron. We are well positioned to optimize our consumer brand while expanding our enterprise footprint to accelerate growth and deliver increased value to our students. The opportunity to help Flatiron achieve that next level of sustainable growth and impact is why I joined.

Q: How are things changing for Flatiron School as cities have started reopening and what are you particularly excited about?

We have welcomed students back to campus in New York city and Denver and will be re-opening an additional seven campuses throughout the year. It is great to have the flexibility that online learning affords, but some students are looking for an enhanced sense of community that develops during in-person learning. The campuses facilitate accessibility to teachers for extra help and workspaces for collaborative study. Flatiron School’s courses are intentionally rigorous because that is what is required for the jobs graduates are seeking. We take that seriously, and our students take it seriously. Some students can achieve the requisite level of focus remotely, while others are more creatively energized in a community setting.

Q: How is Flatiron School working with enterprise businesses?

All companies have become tech companies, which has created a high demand for people who know how to code and understand their specific technical requirements. From banks to manufacturing plants, companies are frantically looking for qualified candidates to fill their tech job openings. By helping businesses to find trained external candidates and to grow internal employees into technical high performers, Flatiron School creates an evergreen pool of previously untapped talent.

To name a few examples, we have had great success with Amazon where we trained fulfillment center workers for more advanced jobs inside and outside of Amazon. In our first year working with Amazon, we graduated more than 250 employees and plan to grow our engagement by more than 50% next year. At VMware, we are working with the U.S. Army Software Factory Initiative to help build software development as a core competency for the military. Going forward, we are doubling down on enterprises and extending our reach to companies that need to fill the talent gap.

Q. How does Flatiron School work with higher education?

Companies are increasingly looking beyond traditional colleges to train their current employees or hire recent graduates. Universities have recognized that their programs do not fit the needs of all students and are adapting to meet changing demands. In response, Flatiron has expanded to offer partnerships at the university level, which enables those institutions to offer turn-key and outcomes-obsessed programs. Flatiron School provides higher education institutions with a rigorous and proven curriculum, purpose-built platform, and the ability to bring in our own world-class and student-focused instructors. Our work with higher education includes partnerships with top-tier universities around the world, including Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale.

Q: How has Carrick Capital Partners supported you and assisted Flatiron School?

I have been very impressed with their desire and ability to help in an authentic way. As we are building out the enterprise business, the team at Carrick has provided numerous introductions to prospective companies. Because so many people on their team have been operators themselves, their advice is pragmatic. Carrick also helps with market research, competitive analysis, pricing, and M&A. A company of our size doesn’t have a dedicated department that can do this, so it is incredibly valuable to leverage Carrick’s expertise.

Q: What is your advice for other growing businesses considering private equity?

Private equity is a great way to bolster your business expertise with industry experts who know how to scale and are willing to deploy the needed capital to accelerate growth. In finding the right PE firm, I recommend selecting one that aligns with your values and goals as a leader. Be sure the people you will work with are authentic and transparent and have been operators themselves. Look for a team with a high level of integrity that is committed to growth and comfortable with your time horizon. You need a partner who understands that this is a journey, not a linear process.

Q: What are your long-term goals for Flatiron School?

To get to a place where we are growing consistently from a top line perspective, and where the balance of revenue is leaning more toward enterprises. Today, we are primarily reaching students on a 1-to-1 basis, but we are increasingly moving to an enterprise model to maximize our opportunity to scale and grow. Through this shift, we can have a much larger impact by helping companies hire and reskill their employees to meet evolving workforce demands and perform higher-paying, more in-demand jobs. This shift will also extend our reach to more students who will benefit from the life-changing skills Flatiron School provides. It is an exciting time for us!

About Carrick Capital Partners
Who We Are
A firm of enterprise software, SaaS, and technology enabled services investors and operating executives with substantial experience founding, scaling, and optimizing market leading businesses.
Our Approach
We work with management to identify and improve critical areas of their business - focusing on the priorities that align with our experiences and that will deliver the highest strategic impact in both the short-term and long-run.
Why We Are Different
We have a concentrated number of companies in our portfolio so that we can build substantial relationships with each management team and ensure our firm's commitment to each company's goals.
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