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CAPSLOCK Education secures GBP540k in pre-seed funding round

CAPSLOCK Education, a cyber-security education institute based in Manchester, has secured GBP540,000 in a pre-seed funding round from GC Angels, the Ufi VocTech Trust, Tynton Group, private angel investors and the UK government to reskill adults across the UK.

Founded in 2019 by Jonathan Slater, Lorna Armitage and Dr Andrea Cullen, CAPSLOCK’s intensive training bootcamp reskills adults into cyber-security professionals within six months. Designed in collaboration with industry leaders including Lloyds Banking Group, BT and Dell, it provides students with opportunities to solve cyber-security problems practically, equipping them with the skills necessary to pursue high-paying, competitive careers in cyber-security.
CAPSLOCK offers full-time and part-time options, both consisting of online, team-based learning with a live tutor. When they graduate, CAPSLOCK’s students have access to career opportunities with a number of high-profile employer partners, including BT, Deloitte, Dell and Lloyds Bank.
Significantly, the course comes at no cost to its students. Costs are fronted through an Income Share Agreement (ISA) which graduates are not required to pay back until earning more than GBP27,000, with the loan wiped after six years. Of its first cohort of 85 students, 77 opted for the ISA, with CAPSLOCK deferring GBP700,000 in tuition fees so learners could join for free. This makes CAPSLOCK the UK’s largest provider of ISA’s in the UK.
CAPSLOCK enrolled 85 learners on its inaugural cohorts in February and March 2021. Of these, 32 per cent were women and 35 per cent were from ethnic minority backgrounds, more than double the average representation on a university degree in a similar subject. Some 50 per cent of their tutoring team are women and 56 per cent of their industry mentors are women too.
After participating in the University of Central Lancashire’s Investment Readiness programme, CAPSLOCK was introduced to GC Angels, the North West’s most active early-stage investor. GC Angels introduced the business to the Ufi VocTech Trust, an investment unit focused on the delivery of vocational learning, and a number of private angel investors.
The GBP350,000 equity investment, which comprised of GBP100,000 from GC Angels, GBP100,000 from Ufi VocTech Trust and GBP140,000 from Tynton Group was bolstered by GBP190,000 in government-backed funding. This consisted of GBP50,000 through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and a GBP140,000 grant from Innovate UK, bringing the total investment round to over half a million.
The round follows the Prime Minister’s announcement that the North West will become home to a new National Cyber Force Centre, aiming to create a ‘cyber corridor’ across the North of England. CAPSLOCK has already created a number of highly-paid jobs in the region, with its Manchester-based team of six set to grow over the next 4-6 weeks. Further, of its first part-time cohort, 9 per cent are from the North West, and 33 per cent of these are female.
Jonathan Slater, co-founder and CEO of CAPSLOCK Education, says: “At a time when the value of tech degrees is in decline, there is an urgent need for disruption in cyber-security education. At CAPSLOCK, we’re determined to drive this disruption. By unlocking the potential of adults in the UK, and eliminating the financial barriers to reskilling, we’re changing the face of cyber-security and making it more accessible to people of all backgrounds.
“This funding round from GC Angels, Ufi VocTech Trust, Tynton Group, our private investors, and the UK government has been absolutely transformative for CAPSLOCK, enabling us to expand our team and invest in our first cohorts. We’re so excited to drive further growth over the coming years, and to continue the conversation around the need for upskilling in cyber-security in the UK.”
Damian Mohammed, Investment Director at GC Angels, says: “As the North West is set to become the cyber security capital of the UK, CAPSLOCK is exactly the type of company that we look to invest in, by addressing the skills shortages in the sector. In what has been a difficult year for many, it’s great to see them not only growing their own diverse team, but also supporting people reskill to get well-paid, sustainable careers in an exciting sector. The fact that they are already breaking barriers within the industry is a testament to the founders and their strong team of advisors so we’re excited to see them grow.”
Speaking of the recent investment, Alex Bishop, Impact Investment Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust, says: “The ever-growing and rapid advancements of technology in our everyday lives only amplifies the importance of Cyber Security within the digital ecosystem, a sector that is currently suffering from a wide skills shortage. At Ufi, we are particularly excited by CAPSLOCK because of their unique learner proposition, removing the financial barriers to vocational training and enabling learners to access skills needed for work in high demand sectors in the UK, such as Cyber Security. We look forward to working with the team on their growth journey moving forward.”

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