They say education is an investment. We say someone should be investing in students.
We started Lambda School because we believe that the “traditional” model of higher education is broken. Every year, people as young as 17 years old take on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and pray that the education they’re investing in will land them on a job on the other side. Unfortunately, traditional colleges and universities have no incentive to ensure their graduates get hired – they get paid regardless. At Lambda School, we believe there is a better way to approach education.
Instead of asking our students to bet on us, we bet on them first. Lambda’s model is built on Income Share Agreements (ISAs) – our students pay no tuition upfront, and agree to pay back 17% of their income post-graduation for two years, but only once they’re making $50,000 or more. And if they don’t find a high-paying job after 60 months of deferred payments? They pay nothing. This paradigm-shifting model allows us to align the incentives of the school with the incentives of our students – and we all win when our graduates succeed. We’re in this together.
Meet our executive team
We’re building a diverse team of talented leaders to build a radical new approach to higher education.
Co-Founder & CEO
“The traditional risk equation of education is deeply flawed. It places an overwhelming burden on the individual – not the educators. I co-founded Lambda School with the underlying hypothesis that if we eliminate risk and align the incentives of students and schools on a large enough scale, we can democratize access to career and income mobility.”
Austen Allred is the co-founder and CEO of Lambda School. A native of Springville, Utah, Austen’s start-up journey began in 2017 with him living in his two-door Civic while participating in Y Combinator, a San Francisco-based seed accelerator. This experience became the foundation of Lambda School’s rapid growth.
Before founding Lambda School, Austen was the co-founder of media platform GrassWire. He co-authored the growth hacking textbook Secret Sauce, which became a best-seller and provided him the personal seed money to build Lambda.
“I believe in the power of education, but I know from personal experience the struggle to be able to afford it. Earning my computer science degree in India was only made possible by a patchwork of 10 different scholarships that I applied to annually. I lived daily with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to complete my education. Lambda School is removing that risk for people.”
As Lambda School’s Chief Technology Officer, Namrata Ganatra is building the technology necessary to scale Lambda School for future growth. She holds a Bachelors in computer science and information technology from the University of Mumbai, and attended programs at Harvard Business School online and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Namrata joins Lambda School after leading the engineering and product teams at Coinbase, PayPal, Facebook and Microsoft, among others. Namrata regularly speaks on women in tech, diversity, and talent, as well as cryptocurrency and the changing tech industry. She sits on the Forbes Technology Council and is technology advisor to several startups in the Bay Area.
Namrata is also the founder of Ashia Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to educate and empower women of all ages, races, and religions. You can find her on Twitter @namrataganatra.
General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
“It’s day one for the reinvention of job training and Lambda School is on the front line of this transformation. It’s giving people something they couldn’t conceive of before: access to a high-paying tech career. Lambda School is category creator infused with mission and the ability to deliver it.”
As Lambda School’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Cecilia Ziniti oversees legal, regulatory, compliance, and transactional matters, and helps Lambda School continue to build trust and serve students. Cecilia also regularly participates in education and outreach related to the legal and regulatory status of income share agreements, paving the way for Lambda School to continue to offer a ground-breaking path to income mobility.
She joins Lambda School after more than a decade of establishing trust in emerging technology brands. She was the first full-time lawyer on Amazon’s Alexa and Echo products, and saw the product from alpha through hypergrowth. Most recently, she led product, legal, and regulatory efforts at the self-driving car technology company, Cruise. Cecilia brings years of expertise in building consumer and partner trust to advance some of the most transformative businesses and technologies of our time at-scale. Cecilia holds a BS from Georgetown University, a JD from the University of California-Berkeley, and studied in London. She is passionate about technology and is an Investing member of Portfolio’s FemTech Fund. She lives in California, with her husband and three kids. You can find her on Twitter @CeciliaZin.
General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
“Most educational experiences break down because they teach the same content in the same time frame to students with wildly different backgrounds, experiences, and learning styles. As a result, students get stuck, fall behind, or drop out. Not at Lambda School. We have designed a program to allow every student to get the help they need, when they needed it, and on the specific content they struggle with, resulting in 100% mastery.”
Caleb Hicks is Lambda School’s VP of Learning and one of Lambda’s earliest team members. He has led the design and implementation of Lambda School’s mastery-based learning model, and has directed and implemented nearly 100 curriculum iterations to respond to the rapidly changing tech industry.
Previously, Caleb was the Senior Manager of Instructional Design at Apple where he was recruited to create the curriculum for the “Everyone Can Code” program for use in high schools, universities, enterprise training, and Apple Retail around the world. Caleb was also previously the Curriculum Director, Lead Instructor, and iOS Program Director at DevMountain.
Caleb holds a Bachelor of Arts in business and marketing education from Weber State University. He lives in Utah with his wife and four kids. You can find him on Twitter @calebhicks.
Chief of Staff
As Chief of Staff to the CEO, Trevor McKendrick is focused on internal operations and special projects.
Trevor began his career consulting tech companies in KPMG’s Silicon Valley office. He is the founder of Salem Software, which created the App Store’s most downloaded Spanish language Bible iPhone app. The founding story was covered by Gimlet Media in the podcast Startup, as well as The Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Daily Mail, and others. Salem Software was acquired by Salem Media in 2015 (Nasdaq: SALM).
Trevor writes a weekly newsletter called How It Actually Works that discusses life in the technology industry. He is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s degree from Brigham Young University. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Breanna. You can find him on Twitter @TrevMcKendrick.
Chief of Staff
Chief Business Officer
"For 40 years, the average income in America has stagnated. Traditionally, the advice to those trying to improve their circumstance has been: ‘get an education.’ Unfortunately, that societal pact no longer holds true. Too many people enter post-secondary education with hope, but leave burdened by crippling levels of debt and lacking the skills to access high-quality modern jobs. I was drawn to Lambda School due to its of once-in-a-decade societal impact, and potential to change the future of education.”
As Lambda School’s Chief Business Officer, Matt is focused on driving partnerships with leading employers, software ecosystems, and public and private organizations to support student outcomes, hiring partner success, and learning effectiveness.
Matt joins Lambda School after many years of business development, platform, and product experience. Most recently, Matt led the Product Partnerships team at Uber. Prior to that he spent 6 years at Facebook as the Head of Product Management for Facebook Games and the Director of Business Development. He is the founder of Graph Ventures.
Matt has a Bachelor of Arts in economics, with a minor in computer science from McGill University and an MBA from Stanford. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Kathryn. You can find him on Twitter @mattwyndowe.
Chief Business Officer
“At $1.6 trillion, Americans carry more student debt than credit card and auto loan debt combined. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed to the point where it’s critical that it leads students to a well-paying job after graduation, yet institutions have little skin in the game when it doesn’t. At Lambda School, we don’t believe the risk should be all on the student. We think financing tuition via an ISA is a superior financing model for many, and are proud to lead the charge in the sector.”
VP of Finance Matthew Sullivan an experienced finance, strategy, and operations leader, focused on building the financial architecture for Lambda School to scale.
Prior to joining Lambda School, Matthew was a VP at Goldman Sachs where he led finance for their co-brand credit card partnership with Apple. He helped lead Goldman Sachs’ acquisition of Final, a Y Combinator credit card technology start-up where he was previously the VP of Finance. Matthew also spent 9 years KKR where he led the valuation team for their Credit division.
A board member of AnewAmerica Community Corporation, Matthew works to provide training and technical assistance to high need communities in the Bay Area. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in accounting and business administration from the University of St Thomas.
He lives in Oakland with his wife Josie and dog Ralphie. You can find Matthew on Twitter @matt_c_sullivan.