• Jonathan Cornelissen

DataCamp's funding history and pitch deck examples

In this post, I give an overview of DataCamp’s fundraising history. I hope that sharing early pitch decks is helpful for other entrepreneurs.

 

As I was wrapping up my PhD in 2012, I was looking for a more engaging learning experience for the students I was teaching the basics of R and statistics. To my surprise, while you could find multiple interactive learning platforms for coding skills (CodeCademy, CodeSchool, ..), that was not true for statistical programming (what we now call data science). I realized that many people work with data on a daily/weekly basis and that they started switching from traditional tools like SAS, SPSS, Excel, … to open-source tools like R, Python, etc. As someone who had struggled to learn R myself, I had wished many times that there were better learning tools out there. As no-one else seemed focused on this problem, we decided to start a project to build an engaging learning platform for R and statistical programming. In these early days, we were completely R focussed and initially even called the project “Rcademy”.

Our goal was to help people learn how to get from data to insights. R is just one of the tools people use, however, and thus we realized fairly quickly that the name Rcademy would not be "future proof". The new name we settled on was “DataMind” (but we never got to own the ".com" which explains another name change later).

 

It was obvious rather quickly that neither Martijn or myself had the technical skills to really pull off building an interactive learning platform. In that context, Dieter and Albert joined the project and they built the first prototype which is showcased in the deck below from 2013.

 

Late 2013, Dieter, Martijn and I formally decided to start a company based on the idea, the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), some early traction and the deck above.

We knew it would take a while before the company would start generating revenue. However, we all lived in Belgium, not really the epi-center of the VC world, so we knew it wouldn't be easy to raise capital. The first starting capital was thus fairly limited and essentially all our savings ($20k). We decided to move to Santiago de Chile for six months to participate in the Start-up Chile program. Simultaneously, we got a grant of ~$25k from a Belgian government entity and a ~$50k investment from iMinds. That money allowed us to build the first version of the platform, as well as the first courses on the platform. After 2 years of bootstrapping and barely taking a salary, we were running out of money again. At that point, we were accepted into the Techstars NYC program. There was a problem though: we didn't have enough money to move to NYC. At the very last minute, a consulting project and angel investor helped us make the jump.

 

After about 2 years of bootstrapping, Techstars really helped us connect to investors faster and pitch the company more clearly. This is a video of the pitch at the end of the Techstars program and below a slide show from around that time.

After the Techstars program, we used the pitch deck above to raise $1M from Accomplice in 2015, and another $1M just months later in early 2016. As of that point, DataCamp started growing like a rocket on every front as you can see in the deck from April 2017 below.

Even though the company was roughly breaking even from a cash flow perspective, we decided to raise a small round in 2017 to have more financial stability. Based on a version of the deck above, Arthur Ventures lead a $4M investment round in DataCamp.

 

Since then, we raised a $25M round from Spectrum Equity in December 2018 aimed to help scale DataCamp for business. Given the recency of this round, I'm not at liberty to share that deck (yet).

 

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