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Aussie cloud learning and training start-up wins $46.8M in funding

Aussie cloud learning and training start-up wins $46.8M in funding

A Cloud Guru takes cloud out of the classroom and into the cloud

ACG founders: Ryan Kroonenburg (L), Sam Kroonenburg (R)

ACG founders: Ryan Kroonenburg (L), Sam Kroonenburg (R)

Australian-owned A Cloud Guru (ACG) has received a A$46.8 million boost from US-based growth equity firm Summit Partners alongside Australia’s AirTree Ventures and existing investor Elephant.

ACG is an online cloud computing training and talent development platform established in 2015 by two brothers from Perth, Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg.

Sam Kroonenburg told CIO Australia that ACG will use the funding to grow staff numbers in Australia and the United States. The company has grown from 20 staff at the beginning of 2018 to 110 now with more hires expected.

Currently, Sam heads up the Melbourne office with brother Ryan responsible for its operation in London in the UK. ACG's Austin, Texas office is run by chief operating officer Jon Menchin.

The funds will also help ACG expand its content library with specialised courses and labs taught by a growing roster of expert instructors. It will also look into building out features that help enterprises reskill their workforce and drive cloud adoption.

Sam Kroonenburg said the brothers started to think about establishing ACG as cloud computing started to become an industry norm.

“Back then people were mostly learning in classrooms, and trying to trying to transform an organisation,” he said. “This meant about 10,000 engineers were put through classrooms with 30 people at a time, which wasn't scalable. We decided to build online training courses and build an online school to drive that and make it really much more cost-effective and efficient.”

An online form of training for cloud models makes sense in an online environment given organisations like Amazon makes thousands of changes and updates in real time, said Kroonenburg.

“Training content needs to be updated every day or two to keep up to date,” he said. “Our original plan was to get about 100,000 people to attend the online school and we could then crowdsource feedback about what needs to change or what needs to be updated.”

Kroonenburg said he and Ryan only started to seriously consider investment from venture capitalists two years ago after working on building the fundamentals of the business.

“We didn't take any funding until we became a profitable business. We built out a cash flow investment and we didn’t take anything at all. We concentrated on building a really scalable, profitable business with good unit economics," he said.

The brothers’ learned the value of a dollar very early on, said Kroonenburg.

“Anytime we spent money, we were aware of how much work we had to do to earn that money,” he said. “When we had the fundamentals right we found venture capitalists just started approaching us because we had a product that people wanted to buy,” he said.

Kroonenburg said Summit Partners, AirTree Ventures and Elephant have been the right choices for investment partners due to a shared vision for training and rescaling the workforces on cloud computing.

“I really believe they see the dynamics that are happening. Cloud is completely changing the landscape, and it's going to be the underlying infrastructure for all in the future. They really believe in what's going to happen here and what cloud is doing,” he said.

The investors understand to be able to get to where ACG wants to go, it needs to be able to get there, it needs to have a really scalable; cost effective training that works for major enterprises.

“You have to have a good working relationship with the VC,” Kroonenburg said.

“But it was also about whether they really believe in where this company is going. That's why we chose them and that's why they chose us of course, as well.”

ACG has 850,000 users across 186 countries and will soon reach the 1 million mark.

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