Coding For All: Makersquare Aims to Expand the Programming Corps

7/8/14Follow @angelashah

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what percent of our students have full-time employment three months after the program. [Editor's note: Makersquare says 19 of the 20 students its first class last year received full-time job offers with salaries ranging from $45,000 to $90,000.]

X: Who are your competitors?

RP: There is Ironyard in Houston and Codeup in San Antonio. Nationally, there are places like Hackreactor, Dev Bootcamp, Flatiron School, General Assembly, App Academy.

This whole industry was born about two and a half years ago. Kaplan acquired Dev Bootcamp. That signals that this industry actually works. They [Kaplan] want to get involved in outcomes training. We’re about one and a half years old, not the first but among the earlier wave of schools that came out. There are now about 70 schools across the country.

X: How did you raise money to put on the classes? Is it difficult setting up an educational institution?

RP: We’re completely bootstrapped. We each put in $5,000 to get started. We were working out of my parents’ house in first three months in Austin. The tuition is paid up front, so we always have money. We’re regulated by the state, so we have to maintain certain financial ratios. We’re required to have that in the event the school closes. We would have to refund everyone their tuition back.

[Regulation is] one of the national debates. The California government is cracking down on some schools.

I think we should be regulated. There’s so much demand right now; it’s like a gold rush. Consumers can easily be taken advantage of. There’s lot of debate about national regulation and how it’s bad and slows down innovation. But it seems like Texas has been playing ball with us, allowing us to move our curriculum at the pace it needs to.

X: What’s the end goal?

RP: Disrupt education. We started with technology because that’s where there’s a huge demand but this is applicable to all industries: accounting, art, different types of engineers. We can teach product design, production management, marketing. How do you run social media campaigns, paid advertising campaigns? There is no formal education for this. You have to figure out how to do it, and hope you’re doing it right. Maybe find a mentor.

The biggest thing about teaching is personality. There are a lot of developers that could do it but they need to be able to deal with students’ questions and answer clearly. We have them teach a sample lesson… to see how their delivery is. Some people are naturals at it. They come in for a full day and TA with the students and based on that, we make an offer. One person didn’t work out but in general it works.

Surprisingly, a lot of people are interested in doing this. Code changes a lot of people’s lives, like with 30 percent salary bumps, and they want to be part of that.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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