In a video announced this morning, Trey Ratcliff announced that he’s seeking $3 million in funding to further develop The Arcanum, an artistic education venture that uses the master/apprentice model for student learning.
In the video, he reveals some approximate numbers of the amount of cash invested thus far by himself and a couple business partners (several hundred thousand dollars).
While it’s common for startups to seek capital to accelerate growth, it’s relatively rare in the photography community, and I suspect the news might surprise many of his followers. I’m not surprised at all; Ratcliff is a savvy entrepreneur and I expect he has plenty of plans for expanding the service.
One aspect I find interesting is that in its current form, the Arcanum model requires a significant human investment to scale: students are placed with mentors, and one mentor can only provide coaching and assistance to so many students. This contrasts with a learning model such as those of Kelby One or Lynda.com, where delivering videos to additional students doesn’t require more instructors. He indicates that the money will be used to hire strategic talent as well as for additional product development. Perhaps he’s not seeking to scale purely by number of students, but also in how much revenue is generated by the average student. It’s likely a mixture of both.
I haven’t been involved with the Arcanum personally, but having watched this space for a while I think this will be an interesting move to see how he grows the company assuming his fundraising is successful.
— Photowebo (@photowebo) October 25, 2015