The Koru Program

Koru (http://www.joinkoru.com/) is a 4-week intensive practical skills training program available locally in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. In short, the program promises to provide participants with right business skills and professional connections needed to be noticed by today’s tech companies, with the added bonus of a guaranteed job interview with such a company at the end.

The program’s website outlines two flavors of the program that meet the needs of two types of customers: 1) the recent graduate or aspiring student, nearing graduation and willing to dedicate four weeks to the program, versus 2) the busy student or professional who needs to approach the program at their own personalized pace. In either case, the target audience seems to be students or professionals who desire to start a career in the tech industry, but does not have the time, money or interests in pursuing a 2-3 year MBA or similar business academic program at a traditional college.

I think Koru shines in its professional network, which is, supposedly, accessible to participants during the program. Several notable people are listed, including an expert in residence of the Harvard Innovation Lab, the head of recruiting at LinkedIn, several CEOs and founders, as well as the music icon, Nas! This certainly allows the company to compete with traditional MBA and alternative business certificate options, which may also have network potential, but do not guarantee interviews.

While this disruptive approach to career readiness certainly seems to position Koru well for stealing market share from traditional academic programs, there are a few potential challenges I can see facing the company. First, the pricing for the program is not listed. The website states that participants can pick a payment plan after they have been accepted. With this, it seems the initial audience they are targeting may be graduate students who are supported by affluent parents and/or not concerned about the cost to getting connected to a high tech company. Cost is typically a big factor in academic program choice, not just time commitment. For the company to reach beyond this audience, they will need to show they can be competitive on price upfront.

Another challenge for Koru may be in maintaining high enough quality of program graduates to ensure they can sustain their company connections. Since pledging an interview is part of their business model, it will be important to ensure reputable companies are willing to support this perk for their graduates. Currently, the program probably tries to address this by controlling the selection of their participants. Interviewing is, however, not a guarantee on the quality of students they bring in.

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