Skip to content

Seed Of The Week: Augment

Augment raised a €6m Seed Round to develop its online business education platform. Co-founder Ariel Renous takes us inside the company that wants to reinvent business education and make it more accessible.

Augment Co-Founders Roy Wellner (left) and Ariel Renous.
Augment Co-Founders Roy Wellner (left) and Ariel Renous.

Childhood friends Roy Wellner and Ariel Renous attended a prestigious business school together and found the experience, well, lacking. They learned a lot and yet did not necessarily feel it prepared them for the modern, digital business world.

They also recognized that they were part of a privileged group. Only a tiny percentage of people attend business school and earn an MBA. And only a fraction of those will go on to start companies. The costs of an MBA conspire to limit accessibility and choices after the diploma is awarded.

So they joined forces to fix that by co-founding Augment, an online business program that wants to expand the market for business education.

"We're building a business education that's much more affordable and accessible to basically everyone who cannot quit their job, invest that much money, spend two years moving to a different city," Renous said. "We not fighting against the Stanfords or Harvards of this world. We're trying to expand the market for a lot of people who would benefit from having a business education and understanding the language of business but don't have the time and money to access a business school."

What is Augment?

In March 2023, they launched Augment. The cost to enroll is $1,750. Students get access to an online curriculum that covers a range of business-related topics: business strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation, finance, sales, leadership, management, and business operations.

The courses are lushly filmed videos of prominent entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Chris Barton of Shazam. Think Masterclass but for business. Upon completion, students receive a certificate signed by Barton. The program does not offer an accredited MBA, and Renous said there are no plans to obtain such accreditation.

"We're not seeking traditional accreditation on purpose," Renous said. "We want to remain free from any type of institutions so we can teach what we believe is best for our students and build the courses along with the instructors."


Renous said that 99% of people can't get access to business school. Beyond that, the founders felt that the traditional business education system is slightly outdated, taught primarily by academics who have less practical, real-world experience.

"We had this big disconnect between the demands of available content online, where you have the best business person on the planet versus professors at supposedly the top business schools who were researchers, and academics," Renous said. "These are very smart people, but teaching frameworks that were slightly disconnected from the reality of business. This is where we got this idea of building an alternative MBA taught by the best business leaders."

Under The Hood

For the moment, Augment's differentiator is not its tech. Instead, it's betting on its ability to attract high-profile names from the business world to film courses for its platform.

"I'm a big fan of Masterclass and I believe they do an amazing job at making people want to learn by investing in top speakers and top instructors," Renous said. "And also putting in the money to get super high-quality videos. You signal to the student that this is interesting and people care about this course."

Augment divides the content into micro-learning units around one key topic. Each video is between 10 to 15 minutes each day. Renous said that's just enough to engage learners.

The speakers and the instructors are the real foundation. From the start, this was the biggest hurdle facing two unknown entrepreneurs based in Paris. They made a wishlist of candidates and began reaching out before there was even a product to demonstrate.

About 18 months ago, they received a positive response from Shazam's Barton. The pair flew to San Francisco and convinced him over dinner. "Since then, it's been much easier to convince other instructors," Renous said.

Participants are not paid. The main enticement is that they will be flown to Paris for several days of filming. Barton came with his son. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen brought his wife and son.

Steve Chen (middle) at a Paris café with Augment's co-founders.
Steve Chen (middle) at a Paris café with Augment's co-founders.

"They don't do it for the money," Renous said. "They are pretty well off already. It's a way for them to give back and it becomes part of their legacy. And they're in this phase of life where it's important for them to educate and share and become a teacher, especially to aspiring entrepreneurs."

Once a candidate is found, Augment's staff does a deep dive into any content they have shared: text, video, media interviews. This helps outline the concepts that will form the basis of the lesson plan that uses their personal journey to address larger ideas. The sessions are then filmed on a set that is specifically designed to reflect the personality of the instructor.


Roy Wellner and Ariel Renous, both 27, grew up together in Brussels. Their grandparents were best friends back in the 1970s. They attended the same high school in Brussels and then Kings College in London. In 2018, they enrolled in the MBA program at HEC Paris.

During business school, Wellner started a business during the pandemic selling nose clips for face masks so glasses wouldn't fog up. Meanwhile, Renous went to work at Jellysmack, a company that helps influencers and content creators boost their reach through its data analytics platform.

Renous took away a couple of lessons from his time at Jellysmack. First, big names and celebrities could create credibility for a product and accelerate sales. Second, the money spent on quality production pays big dividends in terms of reaching more people and creating higher engagement, he said.

"We invest a lot in video production quality, both for the learner and for the teachers," Renous said. "That's part of the value proposition. They look amazing. They sound amazing. It creates a whole experience."

The Full Scoop...

Subscribe to get Augment's funding details and a breakdown of its investors.

This post is for paying subscribers only


Already have an account? Sign In