Interview with Isaac Morehouse
is for entrepreneurial young people who want real-world career experience and a rigorous, self-directed educational experience all in one - and you get paid to do it!
Participants are placed with entrepreneurs in dynamic businesses across the country, where they work 40 hours a week, complete personal development projects, get one-on-one coaching, and learn the skills they need to create value in and out of the workplace. If they complete the program successfully, participants are offered full time jobs with their business partners.
Don’t get stuck choosing between the intellectual value of a humanities degree and the practical value of a business degree or work experience. Get it all. Praxis is about improving yourself, and getting where you want to go faster and better. It’s not about doing what everyone else does – it’s about doing what works for you.
Hi Isaac! Could you please introduce your work with Praxis and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the venture?
So Praxis is a startup apprenticeship program. We help people launch their careers by putting them through a professional bootcamp, and then placing them in startups in a paid apprenticeship, where they really get their foot in the door and get some real world work experience. And the reason I started it was: it goes way back to my own experience in college. It was a complete waste. Total waste of time and money, and it drove me crazy. I learned so much while working for a business owner, and I turned around and paid all this money to pay my way through college, where I wasn't learning really anything useful. And I thought, "There's got to be a better way for people to get started on their careers, to kind of break into that first step in their career - than as sitting classrooms for four or five years and just rack up debt, and then come out the other side no better prepared than they were before. And certainly no more valuable to the marketplace and to the companies they're trying to work for." So I created Praxis as a way to get people who are ready now, that first experience and help them start their career. And so they come in and do an all online boot camp, where they're developing their skills and building a portfolio of work to showcase those skills, and then the next six months they are placed with a startup, and they're working there. And it's pretty much all non-tech roles - so it's not a coding boot camp, it's more for people who are going into more generalist types: sales, customer success, marketing operations type roles- and it has been phenomenally successful. Our graduates have a ninety five percent high employment rate after the program, almost none of them have college degrees or prior experience, and they're absolutely crushing it.
How have you grown Praxis' service offering since it was first founded?
So when Praxis was first started, we just had two classes every year: one in the winter and one in the fall, or one in the spring and one in the fall. And we have since gone to classes launching every single month, as the demand has increased and we've focused on growing and trying to serve as many people as we can. We have also added - when we first launched the boot camp that you did before the apprenticeship, it was pretty small. I mean it was like a very short, like a weekend thing, and then you started your apprenticeship and the curriculum would be going simultaneously. We found that we could work with a lot more people if we added a six month boot camp before the six month apprenticeship, because we could take people who were a little more raw,and a little less prepared, and get them up to speed so that they could get in and create value at that apprenticeship. And expanding and adding in that boot camp dramatically increased the number of people that we could work with, and help, and just get them ready so they can go in and create value from day one.
How do you recruit new participants for Praxis - what are some of the ways you communicate the value of the experience to your clients?
So the number one way we have recruited people for the program, from the very beginning, has been content. We do a lot of speaking at events; we write a ton of articles and blog posts - both on the Praxis blog and media and other publications - we create a lot of videos; we do podcasts; we've written multiple books, and we use those to get interviewed on other people's podcasts. So it's a lot of content. Because we are challenging the status quo so much, because we are saying, "Hey, you don't need to go to college and you can go crush it." And we're appealing to highly motivated, ambitious people, for whom college has been this idolatrous status symbol that their parents have wanted them to achieve. There's a lot of education and mindset that needs to be done, that goes into people making the decision to opt out, and to do something better. And so trying to tell the story about how to launch your career; how to build a body of work on your own; how to take charge; how to get experience from a younger age - we've really just done that through content a lot, and that's been probably the primary driver, just creating a lot of story around what we're trying to create in the world, and people find that and find us through that, more often than not.
What have been some of the most dedicated partner institutions and organizations of Praxis?
So one of the things that's awesome about Praxis is that we work with hundreds of business partners, all across the country. And the typical companies that we place apprentices with: a great fit tends to be a high-growth kind of dynamic startup, but that's in an earlier phase, like anywhere from 20 to a couple of hundred employees. Those are really a sweet spot for us, or even smaller sometimes. And so, some of my favorite organizations: we work with PandaDoc, that's a great company that several years ago they were expanding their sales team and they hired, I think like 12 SDRs, inside sales reps, and every one of them was a Praxis apprentice. And that was really cool, that was our first cluster of so many Praxis participants at a single business - usually it's a couple, one or two here or there. So that's one of my favorites, and we've continued to work with PandaDoc, but we work with companies all over and again those startups that are looking for entry level, non-technical talent - we have the most dedicated, hardworking eager to learn grinders on the planet. And every time we find you know companies are looking for that, it's so fun because they often come back and they're like, "Wow, this is amazing." Then they'll find out later, "This person is only 20 and they don't have a degree! I had no idea." Sometimes after they've been working there for six months or a year. So that's, that's pretty awesome. We love all the companies that we work with.
What's next for your work with Praxis - what will be your main focus throughout the next year?
So Praxis will never stop growing, evolving, changing, striving to get better to deliver more value to our customers. We haven't stopped since day one and the number of things we've tried- many of which didn't work and we've abandoned, but some of which did - it's crazy, I can't even keep track of them. So this year, I think the primary focus, there's a couple of things: one is just increasing the value of the curriculum, the boot camp experience and the community of Praxians, which is already very, very strong. We have weekly group discussions, where we bring in different guests and do workshops. We've got a Slack channel where everyone's talking about the things you're working on in the boot camp - but continuing to upgrade that curriculum, there's a heavy focus on that. And then just growing the program, finding more channels of more people that we can help, that are a great fit for the program. And then the other thing is - this is kind of exciting - out of Praxis, we spun out a another company called Crash and you check it out at crash.co. We're very early, but taking some of the core ideas we've learned from working with people in the Praxis program, and trying to create a platform to allow orders of magnitude more people, millions of people, to utilize some of those basic techniques and tools to help them launch their career. So Crash is a pretty exciting thing that I'm putting my time and energy on, and actually, we've just hired someone to be the CEO of Praxis and to continue to take Praxis forward, while I'm focusing on Crash which is something that, again, is spun directly out of Praxis and the two kind of work in parallel right now. So that's that's kind of the focus for the next year.