Jolt, the Israeli startup challenging the traditional MBA market with cheaper, more flexible course, is planning to more than triple the number of campuses it runs after raising $14.1m from Balderton Capital.

The pay-by-month business school offers students live lessons delivered by business leaders via video link. Students sit physically in custom-made, high-tech classrooms, while the lecturers dial in. Students can mix and match from 80 course units, completing them at their own pace. The programme is aimed at students who already have university degrees and around two to three years of work experience.

A typical course (called a NAMBA or “not an MBA”) costs £175 a month, or £4,500 in total, making it a fraction of the price of a traditional MBA. An average UK MBA is around £30,000; at top business schools such as Harvard costs are in excess of £60,000.

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“Higher education is in a bubble in which a staggering $2.3tn is invested every year in something that works for a small minority of people,” said Roei Deutsch, chief executive of Jolt. “Data shows more than three quarters of graduates believe many higher education programs are no longer fit for purpose.”

“Society is clearly ready for an alternative — an alternative that will happen, with or without us.”

Jolt, founded in 2015, is not the only MBA alternative to have emerged. Founders Academy, backed by the Founders Forum in London, has just started its alternative MBA course, a completely free nine-month programme that trains people to be managers of startup and scaleup businesses.

Alternative education providers such as Coursera, Lambda School and Make School all attracted big funding rounds in the US last year.

Applications to traditional business schools, meanwhile, have been declining for the last five years

Khemarint Son, treasury analyst at Starling Bank who did the Jolt course, said: “I considered doing an MBA, however, costs and time were the biggest factor in deciding not to go down that route. I was attracted to Jolt as they had classes that I felt could help make an impact on my career immediately.”

Son said he also liked being taught by people who had current business experience. “The Jolters looked like cool people coming straight from the industry with real-life experience and not just academic background.”

Jolt has trained more than 5,000 students since 2017. Preliminary evidence collected by the company suggests that students who take the course for at least three months are promoted to more senior positions faster than students taking conventional MBAs.

So far Jolt has three campuses in London as well as seven in Israel and is planning an expansion into the US. The company, which has captured 10% off the Israeli business education market, is planning to open 25 new campuses across the three countries in 2020. The company has so far raised a total of $23.3m from investors.

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