Everyone seems to know that learning to code is one of those things that will help your career in the modern era, but few people are actually doing it. Codesmith is changing that. The 12-week program empowers people from a variety of backgrounds with the skills they need to compete in the tech-enabled world. With the average Codesmith graduate earning $100K+, making the decision to enroll in Codesmith is a no brainer.
LA TechWatch spoke with CEO Will Sentence about the program and the most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
The investment was led by Chad Troutwine, CEO of Veritas Prep, the largest privately owned test prep company in the world and an innovator in online learning technology. Chad brings this experience to his investment in Codesmith as Chairman and Cofounder.
Tell us about your product or service.
The approach is based on the Oxford University educational paradigm of immersive independent learning combined with mentorship and the curriculum is project-based.
What inspired you to start the company?
Coding changed my life and the lives of significant people around me. It gave us the ability to build the ideas we dreamt up. We created Codesmith to give people a path to fulfill their career goals whatever their background.
How is it different?
We focused on creating a community of people that are truly supportive of each other. Together with the pedagogy and hiring network it’s led to the top outcomes of any program in the country with $103k average salary for graduates (and $110k for the last cohort that graduated) and 96% of graduates hired within 4 months
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
People learn to code for many reasons from aspiring doctors who want to change medical document processes to people who love solving puzzles. I love getting see all of these backgrounds come together to support each other in the program. The coding bootcamp market is worth $200m in 2016 according to Coursereport
What’s your business model?
The main program at Codesmith is the 12 week immersive program where students spend upwards of 80 hours per week learning and building in preparation for the job search and ongoing Hiring support.
The core program is selective and competitive entry so we are adding an additional evening and weekend program – Framework – for folk who want an introduction to coding
Do you think our effort to educate the next generation to code will make a difference in how the next generation thinks?
Coding is about problem solving and excellent communication not just technical knowledge. As ‘software eats the world’ more companies will either adapt to the role software engineering plays at their core or they’ll be overtaken.
I want Codesmith to train this generation of leaders – who have a problem-solving mentality with a deep understanding of software.
What was the funding process like? What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
I remember the first time I sat down with our Chad Troutwine. We talked for 4 hours about the challenges of the existing higher education system. He’s the founder of one of the largest college and graduate school test prep companies – Veritas Prep – and so his investment is a fascinating exploration into this new field in technology and education.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We will have graduated over 150 software engineers by the end of 2016 and over 250 next year. We want want this alumni community to be tight-knit and the source of new projects, collaborations and ventures.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Right now is a relatively less favorable environment to be raising money. If you’re pre-funding I would focus on building out the product to a point where users can use it and show you that what you’ve built is compelling for them.
This was one of the reasons I learned to code, so that it’s always within you and your cofounder’s capacity to get your idea to the stage where it can be tested
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
The goal is to ensure we maintain the excellence and intimacy of the core Codesmith 12 week program here in Los Angeles while still reaching new students. We will use the new investment to do so and to expand our online learning offering.
Do you think LA will land the Olympics in 2024?
I was in London during the 2012 Olympics and it created a unique energy in the city. I’m excited to see what the tech community can bring to the bid. With Codesmith Pro Bono, students work with non-profits and government organizations to build tools that solve problems. I expect there to be a collaboration with the city around the Olympics bid.