The Silicon Review
“Our mission: Unlock your potential and start your career in technology.”
An original academic program, created and customised to reshape the technology labor market, exposes the participants to industry-recognized and up-to-date tools and practices in a fast-paced environment. The high-intensity boot camp spread over 16 weeks allows every participant to acquire many different skills and competencies highly valued by future employers.
The training CodeBoxx Technology delivers is an alternative to online programs already offered to self-tuition. On the Web today via Codecademy, Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, Stack skills and so on, you already have had access to learning material for many years and some are free or cheaper than CodeBoxx. The basic premise of the CodeBoxx concept is that, if some people attracted to tech still have not leveraged what is already accessible out there to jump-start their career, there must be something missing.
The company fills this void by proposing a framework that allows focus and performance alongside broad exposure to the technologies that make modern developers quality-driven and productive. A truly transformational journey across all themes of the program delivered by experienced and recognised professionals.
CodeBoxx was incorporated in 2018 and is headquartered in Sausalito, California. Their first classrooms are established in Quebec City and Montreal with plans for new ones in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York and Miami.
CodeBoxx Technology: Interview Excerpt
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Like a lot of ideas that become great business endeavors, CodeBoxx was created to fill an observed gap in the market. CodeBoxx’s CEO and founder Nicolas Genest experienced the gravity of labor shortage in technology while he was a three-time CTO in New York and Silicon Valley. He was also suffering, sometimes more, from incompatibilities in the mindset and soft skills of new hires. He had to take risks in the early days and hired on his teams ex-teachers, Uber drivers and Starbucks baristas with only a few weeks of experience in technology. He bet that with proper senior guidance and a clear definition of success, smart people with life-experience are capable of producing great results and value even if they didn’t have engineering backgrounds or big college degrees. He quickly realized he was right as these new employees were among the best in his teams because they cared more, they were grateful for the opportunity to contribute and they were caught in a positive spiral where their short term success boosted their motivation to get even better. He also realized that in a now mature technology landscape, like in the construction sector, beyond the need for engineers to plan and design the right solutions, there is an even bigger need for results-oriented pragmatic doers. It is even more important for these people with skills to be efficient within a team. Not everyone can be an engineer, but everyone can speak the language of technologies and contribute to the sector. Nicolas is the author of a unique learning program delivered in the form of a Boot-Camp and the proof of concept has been a huge success and now the startup is strong with more than 500 registrations, six elite partners and an on-going expansion process that will bring the concept across North America and Europe.
How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
The first cohort was delivered in 2018 and the results were beyond the wildest expectations of the founding team. Our graduation rate was higher, our placement rate was higher than expected, as time goes by, we have the firm conviction that our graduates are just as valuable as any other collaborator and can contribute to teams and projects. Our partners already gave significant roles to our graduates and some are already destined to exceptional careers. One of the first projects we delivered as a project agency with some graduates staying within CodeBoxx was for the Fashion designer Amsale, a company based in New York: A 30-year-old high-touch wedding-dress company that wanted to bring their products and clients into the digital world emerging as a survivor of the retail apocalypse. They wanted to change the way brides purchased wedding gowns while transforming the enterprise from a fashion company to a technology company. CodeBoxx, as the exclusive technology partner, delivered many iterations of a complete, lightweight, state-of-the-art new information system. The new orientation taken by the company was even featured in the Washington Post on April 12th and in Vogue in August. Among the key players of the digital transformation team, a former crane operator turned developer in only 16 weeks. He simply wanted something more in his life and CodeBoxx was there for him.
Is your company a leader or follower? Do you formulate your own core values?
CodeBoxx is a groundbreaking leader. It shows by the many trying to hold us back. The uniqueness and innovation comes from two different elements: its learning program and its concept! First, the program. Custom made by a CTO for CTOs, it offers a real hands-on business simulation to participants, as a fictional company acts as an employer. This true case study approach also combines technical skills with non-technical skills to simulate in-enterprise situations. Participants are mentored by experienced senior engineers with active careers. They are paid upon graduation of their protégés, therefore providing them with the necessary incentives to help participants to be excellent in their execution week after week, to always go the extra mile and to always stay flexible and nimble even in front of unknown or complex situations.
The second element and probably the most important one is the overall concept of this school that guarantees accessibility to as many people as possible. It makes the social mission possible because it removes the barrier to entry for anyone who wants to be part of the movement. CodeBoxx takes all the risks, and they have to do so to allow as many people as possible to have a shot at a career in tech. With upfront tuition and no guarantee, it’s safe to say that more than half of our graduates so far wouldn’t have been able to participate and have the opportunity to change their lives and launch their new career in only four months. We strongly believe everyone deserves an opportunity to turn their life around, to improve their situation and to have the chance to reach their full potential, and that’s what CodeBoxx offers them!
If you have to list four factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
Our concept: We take all the risks! We accept everyone, we lend brand new laptops to our participants, we guarantee a job upon graduation and graduates don’t pay anything before we fulfill our promise! This is definitely one of our biggest differentiators. It is closely connected to our social mission as well. The vast majority of our graduates so far would not have been able to attend the bootcamp if it were not us taking all the risks.
Our mission: We want to give as many people as possible an opportunity they might have never gotten before to express their full potential and grab a share of the opportunities offered by an accelerating labor market revolution.
Our program: Designed by a CTO to satisfy the needs of CTOs, our hands-on business simulation and custom made program cannot be found nor experienced anywhere else.
Our pillars: Excellence in execution, always find a way to go the extra mile and remain flexible and nimble in front of complex or unknown situations.
‘Leaders cannot optimize results by themselves; they need employees’ support and assistance.’ How does your company interpret this saying?
One of the important strengths of great leaders is how they surround themselves with quality people. It happens to be one of our CEO’s great qualities. Only a few people were part of the launch, but Nicolas made sure those were high-quality people. An efficient leader must promptly identify the character traits that people possess which will make them fit for a certain role, context or task at a given moment of the lifecycle of a business endeavor. In an early-stage startup like CodeBoxx, the success or failure depends on the dedication of its first collaborators to our cause.
What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s reputation?
The main reason is the noble social mission of our business magnified by the fact that we have held true to every single promise we have made to our partners and our participants. We are proud to say that in four months, we change lives for the better by allowing anybody to start a new career in technology! We are able to do that because we already had a positive influence over the lives of people who were looking for better career opportunities, we changed lives for young school dropouts who now have a passion and a bright future, and we also changed lives for immigrants who were looking forward to an opportunity to contribute and integrate better in their new communities.
Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?
In the near future, we want to secure the growth and footprint of CodeBoxx Technology by allowing a greater number of people to simultaneously seize the opportunity to start a career in technology and introduce the best graduates to a growing number of pragmatic partners and companies. CodeBoxx Ventures is also an important part of the endeavor because this branch of the company incubates and helps jump-start promising ideas, which might become the unicorns of the next decade. Our expansion strategy is meant to adapt to the local market realities and opportunities.
With a personalized and pace-based approach to learning, collaboration and merit, we firmly believe that we will be able to unleash the true potential of a whole series of capable individuals and encourage them to embark on a new chapter in their careers.”