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Interview of Julien Barbier, co-founder & CEO at Holberton School

The Holberton School is a new kind of coding school that will train general “full stack” software engineers. What’s interesting is that this school doesn’t offer online courses that teach the basics nor is it a 12-week boot camp. It’s a physical school based in San Francisco where students sign up for a 2-year program. There are no traditional professors but mentors, entrepreneurs or CTOs who will teach real-world skills. Partech Ventures participated in the $2M seed round raised by the founders to create the school which opened in January.

3 questions to Julien Barbier, Co-Founder & CEO at Holberton School:

Can you explain the concept of this new school?

Holberton school is a community-driven and project-based alternative to college for software engineers. The school has no formal teachers or courses, but has a flexible curriculum built by the community. Students are assigned programming challenges that become increasingly difficult and are only given minimal direction on how to find the solution. With the guidance of mentors with different areas of expertise, students have a network of successful software engineering professionals at their fingertips.

What is the student profile?

Holberton School is open to anyone, whether a high schools graduate or not. No programming experience is required. Our selection process is based only on talent and motivation, with no consideration given to gender, nationality, ethnicity or social status. Our first class is very diverse:

  • 40% of our students are women

  • Our youngest student is 17

  • Our oldest student is 51 years old.

What are the main challenges you face in being a French entrepreneur in the USA?

At the very beginning, the main challenge is to rebuild your network. You can be the champion in France, it does not matter: you are nobody here when you arrive. It's hard because it's like restarting your career from scratch. Having worked at Docker for three years helped me a lot in that regard.
The good news is that thanks to the French Mafia, this will take less time now for a new comer. La FrenchTech, French Alumni Network, while42, etc... are very active in the USA and help thousands of French entrepreneurs every year.
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