Within the past few years, coding as a skill became anybody’s game with the likes of rap star Will.i.am telling the media that code can help fight global inequality. World leaders also followed suite, with Obama became the first President to write a line of code and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong recently showed his C++ prowess by sharing his source code for a Sudoku solver.
Online and physical coding schools have also cropped up ranging from easygoing interactive platforms like Codecademy to all out four-month curricula from General Assembly. Between the freemium models and fairly steep tuition costs, are students of these programs actually landing development gigs after?
CodeCloud, a new interactive coding platform, wants to bridge that gap. Claiming to be the only ‘school’ that that lets users build projects for real companies, the one-year-old Singapore/Seoul startup (and incoming JFDI incubatee) already has had three projects completed included an Airbnb-Expedia mashup and a Bitcoin trading bot that uses machine learning and natural language recognition to predict movements in the cryptocurrency realm.
Users first compete an aptitude test, get put into roles (back-end, front-end, managerial) within a team and can get access to unlimited projects and work with real companies for US$19/month.
The issue with most coding platforms is that it requires active participation, which is a challenge for adults with busy work lives who can’t afford to quit their jobs to take a gamble on immersive courses. Nor do they have energy to focus on video tutorials at the end of the day.
Passive learning needs a mobile experience
Mike De’Shazer, NYC coding school App Factory Founder and CodeCloud Co-Founder believes that adult neophyte coders need a solution that’s fun, non-committal and actually leads to job opportunities. More importantly, it needs to be a passive way for people to learn at their leisure, which is why CodeCloud’s is plugging away on a free mobile game where budding coders can absentmindly tap away on their daily commutes.
“The whole thing is very interactive and touch-enabled. Essentially the way it works is you drag words into slots. You start with very simple code then it gets more complex so this is a way that people can learn how to code passively. We found that there’s a huge gap — most adults that want to learn how to code don’t have the time. But they have time on the train or bus, so we realized that we needed to create a mobile experience,” he said.
Although game mechanics in coding platforms is not new, CodeCloud isn’t ‘one size fits all’ and adapts to your skill level while also introducing an element of competition. “Machine learning is a big part of this algorithm that we’re working on, which customises the content to your needs and the skills of your friends. We found that when people are competing with others, they tend to not mind the big challenges.”
One of the benefits of a physical coding class is you can tap into the expertise of your instructors and peers. CodeCloud solves this by introducing a layer of mentorship for their premium users. Students can enlist the help of experienced coders such as De’Shazer for up to 12 hours a month for US$999. This would be in tandem with CodeCloud’s premium curriculum package where the team consults with and crafts a custom path for users to reach their goals, which runs for US$499/month.
Incorporate the coding test that gets you the job
Throughout their user testing phase, De’Shazer and his team realised that a code test is the typical gateway for an interview — so they’ve gone and incorporated those tests into the game. While the game develops your coding skills, the endgame is to land a job so CodeCloud isn’t only embedding actual tests in the game, but also goes the extra mile to link you with employers.
“We’re now working on algorithms where you can apply for jobs in your sleep. We’ve developed a tool where our premium users will be able to generate a portfolio and resume, which really sticks out with employers. It’s three-dimensional, includes your employment and education background, programming skills and your social networks are built into there.”
The idea is CodeCloud will play matchmaker between their students and employers. Keeping in mind target companies’ requirements for development roles, CodeCloud assesses the level of their premium users then helps them send out their resumes and cover letters automatically.
De’Shazer and his team of six (including Co-Founders Marissa Small and Luke Fitzpatrick) first beta launched CodeCloud in Singapore when IDA invited him to spend one month teaching government employees how to code. IDA then introduced De’Shazer to JFDI where the startup is just finishing the one-month ‘Discover’ program and will be joining the accelerator’s next batch.
The bulk of the product was built out in Seoul, but De’Shazer said that after graduating from JFDI with seed money of US$50,000 to get started — they’ll be looking to raise a Series A of US$1.5 million and open up a Singapore office.
The interactive coding space is getting crowded and De’Shazer said they come across a new platform almost everyday. He thinks that cheeky platforms like CodeBabes are innovative but perhaps not the most sustainable. One direct competitor to the CodeCloud product is Code4Startup, which teaches programming through real projects but not with real companies nor do they help with the job search. Another is Treehouse which offers similar one-on-one mentorship but again, users won’t be able to build projects for real companies.
With multi-layer product offering, a robust business model and the backing of JFDI, CodeCloud is off to a flying start.
If you want to test run CodeCloud’s mobile game, mention the headline of this article in an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org