Sophie Zhou Novati worked as a senior engineer at Facebook and Nextdoor, where she struggled to . Frustrated, she decided to train engineers to meet her team’s hiring standards by mentoring at a local . After two and a of mentoring on nights and weekends, Novati decided to turn her passion into a career.
She and her husband, Michael, several goals. For one, they wanted to offer personalized training to help to code and become “exceptional” software engineers. Sophie was also struck by the diversity of the people she witnessed going through coding . Still, she realized those graduates weren’t getting the same opportunities as traditional .
With Formation, her goal is to personalize the training experience via a remote fellowship program that combines automated instruction with access to a “network of top-tier mentors” from . After one year in beta, Formation unveils its Engineering Fellowship, where every fellow gets a “personalized ambitions.”
So far, it’s placed just over 30 people in engineering roles at companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Lyft, with an average starting salary of $120,000. Formation aims to offer an experience beyond boot camps, which Sophie argues “have gotten too big, too fast, churning hundreds or thousands of students through fixed curriculums without individualized attention.”
The startup attracted the attention of Andreessen Horowitz, which just . Designer Fund, Combine, Lachy Groom, Slow Ventures, and engineers from Airbnb, Notion, and Rippling participated in the financing.
“The first that struck me about this community is its diversity. Forty-four percent of graduates report that they identify as nonmale. The percentage of Black and Latinx graduates is nearly . “But the problem is that only about 55% of Bootcamp grads are getting a job as a , and of the ones that do, their median salary is only about $65,000. At the same time, companies everywhere are just desperately looking for ways to diversify their talent pool.”
Instead of having students follow a fixed curriculum, Formation leverages adaptive learning technology to build a personalized training and career goals. According to Sophie, about half of the people participating in Formation’s
already working in the industry in some capacity. According to Sophie, the platform continuously assesses their skills and adapts their roadmap.
Connie Chan, the general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said she’s been examining the edtech space for a while, including new tools for teaching and leveling coding skills. Formation stood out to her as the “only true tech-based and scalable solution that optimizes each student’s mastery of important skills.” Its ability to dynamically change based on a student’s performance, in particular, was compelling. “The founder-product fit is also super clear — Sophie brings her own best-in-class engineering experience to Formation, as well as her long-time passion for mentoring,” Chan wrote via email.