Hupso – formerly Prep Academy: 7 million euros to revolutionize shortage occupations

27 April 2023


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La Belle Histoire is a series of articles featuring entrepreneurs and their teams – the main characters – starting from where it all began – the genesis – and sharing with you the stages they went through – the epic -. What happened next? They’re still writing it 😉

April 2023, Arnaud Gracieux, founder of PrepAcademy, officially announces the raising of 7 million euros in funding and the change of brand identity. From this month, PrepAcademy becomes Hupso – literally “to rise” in Greek.

The name reflects Arnaud’s deep-rooted convictions as a fervent advocate of education as a social elevator. To unleash everyone’s potential, he created Hupso, formerly PrepAcademy, an EdTech start-up specializing in distance vocational training for jobs in short supply. On a piece of sofa – between two appointments – he tells us his beautiful story.

The genesis

Arnaud comes from a family of entrepreneurs. As a teenager, he became involved in community work, teaching disadvantaged people. After high school, the young man developed a passion for economics and entered a preparatory class. He gives himself the means to achieve his ambitions, works hard and learns fast. The competitive entrance exams opened the doors to HEC, where he simultaneously began a double degree in business and economics.

Freshly graduated, Arnaud signs a permanent contract as a junior consultant at Capgemini and puts his skills to work for major companies such as Thalès and BNP Paribas. The excitement of the early days soon gave way to the routine of everyday life. ” I was looking for a business project in which I could fully invest myself,” he recalls.

Some of his classmates share this sentiment, and some have gone into business for themselves. For Arnaud, the idea is catching on, and he identifies education as his new playground. It’s 2015, and PrepAcademy is in its infancy.

The epic

Before taking the plunge, Arnaud met with teachers, higher education employees and educators. He discovers in each of these people very different life paths. The continuing education sector is not very digitized, and state-recognized courses are difficult to set up. Arnaud then decided to offer support for competitions: “It all started with the nursing exam, the first one I worked on. I met students who were in the process of taking it, collected the courses and then began my first coaching sessions. In concrete terms, it was a landing page with courses and coaching.”

Within two months, Arnaud had a dozen customers. He has a poor grasp of the acquisition levers, but despite the difficulties, the young graduate is having a lot of fun. It’s enough to leave everything behind and swap your daily life as a salaried employee for the life of a start-up. “Setting up an entrepreneurial project isn’t just about the money. It’sabout creating a project in which you believe”, he explains.

Like his customers, Arnaud is in a learning phase, training himself to become an entrepreneur. Methodical, he begins by analyzing his sector to understand its inner workings, before drawing up an initial business plan and hiring his first freelance developer. It’s March 2017 and the first PrepAcademy website sees the light of day.

Arnaud went from zero to one: he contacted his first students, sent e-mails to the chain, spent his first euros on advertising and, a few days later, made his first sale. For €50, it offers a student nurse access to online content and chat for a month to prepare for her entrance exam. “From memory, I think she was happy. I remember that first sale, and I threw a huge party to celebrate that evening!” he jokes.

Concept validation and launch

For several months, Arnaud worked alone on his project. He works with a number of freelancers and is considering a partnership, but the timing is not ideal. In summer 2017, he was awarded the French Tech grant and became a Réseau Entreprendre prizewinner, both of which enabled him to enhance his training offering.

The start of 2019 has been promising, with the start-up experiencing strong growth and achieving the previous year’s sales in just three months. The team is strengthened by the addition of two interns to support the founder. “For the record, one of those interns – Cyril – is still part of the development team. You could say he’s been through it all.”

The eternal question remains: how do you acquire more customers? Arnaud found the answer in an exchange with an OpenClassroom employee whose words still resonate: “to buy training, people need to be reassured. The telephone is the best way to achieve this.”

The team immediately set about redesigning the website to support telephone prospecting. Arnaud decides to team up with Clément Vignal, an old friend. Clément left his sales job to join the adventure, and together they imagined their beautiful story: that of a company founded by two childhood friends.

In 2020, the global pandemic and its successive confinements put the brakes on the start-up’s development. Site traffic drops, people’s minds are not on learning, but the end of the first confinement marks a return to growth. New sales staff are hired and the company grows from €20 to €70,000 in monthly sales.

Morale is high until autumn 2020 and winter confinement. “Forecasts were poorly made, we downplayed the impact of morale on sales. Targets were not met and we had to change our strategy.” From now on, learners are at the center of everything we do. The teams are better at listening, the advice they give is more precise and the conversion rate soars. ” I understand that we’re not just selling training, but life projects”, explains the founder.

In the summer of 2021, PrepAcademy is expanding its offering to include a diploma course in addition to its competitive entrance exam preparation. Students have access to a fully personalized learning platform based on data analysis, as well as remote support. Training courses for nurses, schoolteachers and construction managers have become flagship offerings in the catalog. This was a pivotal period for the start-up, which achieved sales of 150,000 euros in training courses in just two months.

Fund raising

In the fall of 2021, Arnaud embarks on a fund-raising campaign and decides to surround himself with a fundraiser to save time and maximize his chances of success. Always in the position of a learner, the founder wants to understand the ins and outs of lifting.

With the help of his leveur, he calculates the value of his company. At that time, PrepAcademy announced annual sales of 1.5 million euros, and despite lower valuations in the education sector, the two men hoped to raise 4 million euros in their first round of financing. Once the deck has been consolidated, the roadshow begins in December, with one objective in mind: to close before the end of the year.

After several weeks of meetings and negotiations, PrepAcademy completes a financing round of 7 million from VC Educapital and Family Office Evolem, as well as business angels such as Patrick Asdaghi, CEO of Foodchérie, Romain Libeau, CPO of Swile, Romain Raffard, CEO of Bergamotte, Axel and Hugo Manoukian of MoovOne and Dimitri Farber of Tiller Systems.

Following this operation, PrepAcademy becomes Hupso and continues its development in favor of jobs in short supply.


Hupso currently has 53 employees and 35 training courses or competitive examination preparation courses. Arnaud’s objectives are clear: double the number of students within two years and pass the 10,000 mark within three years. The entrepreneur and his teams adopt the right training and head straight for the 10 million euro sales milestone.

Selena Miniscalco


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