Tag: Michael Girdley

Showcasing New Programmers at CodeUp’s Demo Day

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Michael Jaime sold his car and bought a bike so he could pay his tuition and participate in CodeUp, a 12-week bootcamp that teaches non-programmers how to code.

Each day Jaime would bike three miles to Geekdom at the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio to learn a hodgepodge of programming languages including JavaScript, SQL, HTML and PHP.

On Wednesday, Jaime and his team showed off their newly acquired skills during a presentation of their capstone project, Pro-Sifter, a web app that allows users to find professional hairstylists, makeup artists and more and to rate and review them.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Jaime said. “I’ve always been interested in web development.”

Jaime was one of 23 students in the latest CodeUp program. They graduated on Wednesday and presented their projects at the Pearl Studio to a standing-room only crowd of more than 70 potential employers.

This is the second CodeUp class to graduate. The first class graduated in April. Out of that class, 25 of the 27 students have found employment or have made money as programmers, said Michael Girdley, co-founder of CodeUp. They’ve gotten jobs with Labatt Foods, Parlevel, Heavy-Heavy and various web development shops, he said.

Passion and determination are the qualities that make good CodeUp students, he said.

“These people have all had to make life sacrifices to be here,” he said. “They self-select. Those are the traits of being a good employee. They are the type of people you want to hire.”

IMG_3537CodeUp costs $9,875 for a 12-week program. Some of the students use a Crowdfunding portal to raise the money for tuition. CodeUp refunds half of the tuition if a student is able to find a job within six months.

“It’s a way to get behind someone when they’re changing their life,” Girdley said.

Kyle Cornelius, co-founder of Storific, a mobile application for ordering food from restaurants, attended the CodeUp Demo Day to scope out the talent.

“Codeup is a terrific bootcamp because they come in prepared and ready,” he said. “The skills that they learned are all things we use.“

Storific is looking to hire two backend developers, Cornelius said.

“Most of the people here do fit the bill,” he said. “We’re just trying to find people who share the same passion with us.”

Chad Keck, CEO and founder of Promoter.io, a company feedback system based on the Net Promoter Score, planned to interview some of the jobs candidates in the next few days. He’s hiring a full stack engineer, a front-end engineer and a junior developer.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Nicole Sumrall worked on the Tweets for Charity program, a Web application that allows Twitter users to donate to selected charities by tracking the number of tweets they post in a month and a per-tweet donation tied to that number.

She joined CodeUp to change the direction of her life. She previously worked at Best Buy in the cell phone department while pursuing her graduate degree. She has a B.S. from UTSA and a M.S. in English literature from Texas A&M in San Antonio.

“When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get into a Ph.D. program, technology was the next best thing.,” Sumrall said. “ I really enjoy creating things. It gives me a creative outlet in programming. I learned about CodeUp from a friend and then I applied.”

And she’s glad she did. The program opened her up to new ideas. And now she’s eager to pursue a job as a web developer.

One of Cole Reveal’s roommates had previously enrolled in the last CodeUp class.

“I saw the culture that was at Geekdom and it just blew my mind. It was something I had to gear my life toward,” Reveal said.

His team’s capstone project was Diversity Thread, a “resource for potential employees looking to get noticed specifically designed for minorities and women.”

Reveal has a math degree but he was working at a New Balance store, selling shoes. He wanted a more challenging career.

“This gave me new skills,” Reveal said. The program helped Reveal sharpen his problem solving skills and broadened his ability to acquire information, he said.

“CodeUp has opened our eyes,” he said. “The instruction here is unmatched.”

Justin Mason also worked on the Diversity Thread project also, which he calls a “diversity” LinkedIn.

“For the past few three years I ran a tech company without any technical skills myself. I paid a lot of contractors,” Mason said.

He worked on his startup, Vela, out of Geekdom for the past year and half. He started it in Southern California.

The CodeUp program gave him the skills he needed to program his own site. He no longer needs to hire programmers. He’s now looking for a job as a web developer.

“This was empowering,” Mason said.

Caitlin Daily earned a degree in nuclear medicine from Incarnate Word, but she couldn’t find a job. She decided to enroll in CodeUp and she found her passion.

“I wanted to stay in San Antonio,” Daily said. “I needed something quick to get me into new fields. “

She worked on the Pro-Sifter project. Now she’s looking for a job as a web developer specializing in back end development. She feels like CodeUp prepared her for a career in coding.

“I have no fear going into any interview,” she said.

Frank Pigeon retired from the military in 2003 as a computer operator and analyst and works at Fort Sam Houston as a civilian project engineer. But he always wanted to learn how to code.

“I came to the last Demo day and I was blown away by the projects I saw and I said I’ve got to do this,” Pigeon said.

So he enrolled in CodeUp. His team’s capstone project, Community-Helpers, is “a web application that connects seniors with odd-jobs done around their house to the youth in their community who are ready to earn some money.”

“A few months ago I would never have the tools to accomplish this,” he said.

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb got introduced to coding through her WordPress blog, LeonaLovely.

At CodeUp, she worked on a capstone project, ChartBabe, a way for new moms to track all of their babies’ activities electronically including feedings, diaper changes and naps.

Webb plans to continue working on the project and adding new features, including creating a mobile phone app. Webb’s son, Jasper, is 18 months old. Her second child is due in November. Coding provides her with flexibility.

“It seemed like a big price tag at first,” she said. “I don’t even have a job yet and I already know it was worth it. I can’t believe the knowledge I’ve gained in 12 weeks.”

SAPitch Provides an Informal Setting for San Antonio Startups to Pitch to Investors

Founder of Silicon Hills News

The Walkingspree team at SAPitch

The Walkingspree team at SAPitch

One of the big problems in growing San Antonio’s technology startup industry has been lack of access to capital for entrepreneurs.

The Geekdom Fund has provided $25,000 to a handful of tech startups in the earliest stages of their companies, but the real need comes with follow on funding in larger amounts ranging from $250,000 to a few million.

The solution might well be found in groups like the newly created SAPitch. The organization, headed up by Michael Girdley and Cole Wollak, brings together entrepreneurs and angel investors in an informal setting for lunch. Everyone buys their own meal and four startups pitch their companies before investors.

On Wednesday afternoon, Storific, Walkingspree, HighNoon and Lightphile presented their companies to investors at Café Commerce in the downtown library.

Walkingspree, a seven year old company with revenues of $2.3 million last year, already has 80 corporate clients and more than 44,000 registered members for its software as a service platform for digital health. The company has created a physical activity program aimed at corporations looking to increase the health of their employees.

Walkingspree CEO Hiran Perera said the company has created its own Bluetooth-enabled device called the “Inspire.” The watch-like device tracks steps, calories, time, distance and goals.

The company’s platform also incorporates other activity trackers like the Fitbit. With customers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Mercer Total Health Management and Texas Health Resources, the company is on track to top revenues of $3.4 million this year.

The company has been bootstrapped so far with one angel investment, Perera said. It’s looking for a strategic investor to develop and Android-based product and further expand its sales and marketing.

Kyle Cornelius and Zachary Stovall, co-founders of Storific, pitched their app-based business that allows consumers to order food via their mobile phones from restaurants and skip the lines. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Paris, France to Geekdom in San Antonio with six employees. They are looking to raise a seed stage round of investment to further develop and market Storific.

HighNoon, which has been in business about eight weeks, wants to bring the custom barn buying experience online. It is already selling a couple of barns a month but plans to create a platform for customers to buy a new and efficient barn tailored to meet their needs, said Pegy Brimhall, one of the founders along with Sonja Howle and Alex Guerra. It was seeking seed stage funding.

David Barrick and Logan Butler, co-founders of LightPhile, pitched their lighting control device to manage an entire concert lighting experience with an iPad. The company received a $25,000 initial investment from the Geekdom Fund. It’s looking for additional funds to finish developing its software interface for the iPad and hardware device.

Codeup Bootcamp Aims to Turn Non-techies into Web Programmers

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photos courtesy of Codeup

Photos courtesy of Codeup and Geekdom

Nathaniel Medrano wrapped up a recent internship feeling that, while the experience gave him great exposure, the job’s DIY learning model-via telecommute no less-still had him looking for ingrained traction in the technology. His work setting up search engines for local directories at a telecommunications company had given him a taste for the role and its tasks, but now he wanted a bootcamp experience that would help him understand the “why.”

He chose Codeup, an immersive 12-week cohort program launched out of the Geekdom tech startup incubator in downtown San Antonio. “Iron sharpens iron…and Codeup gave me exactly what I was looking for,” Medrano said. He graduates in a few weeks. The program “strengthened what I did know, and filled in all the gaps.”

Citing a Bureau of Labor Statistics study that job growth for developers is expected to grow 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, Codeup bills itself as an “in-person bootcamp that takes you from non-techie to web programmer.” It targets would-be web developers who are early career or second career with an intensive program that combines instructor-led training and self-study. Graduates are guaranteed that if they don’t land a job within six months, half their tuition will be refunded.

Fresh off the glow of his team winning the 2014 InnoTech Beta Summit, CEO Michael Girdley talked about what differentiates Codeup from courses available in community colleges and other bootcamps. “All a computer science degree gives you is theory, and then someone has to pay you to learn what to do with it,” he said. The value that Codeup tries to provide graduates and employers is “we cut out those first three years” that newly-minted web developers normally spend cutting their teeth on applied learning, Girdley said. A list of 55 employers formally recruit from Codeup, ranging from other Geekdom startups to established firms such as Globalscape and Labatt Food Service.

Codeup3The typical student experience starts with a considerable amount of prep work even before the first class. “You’re coding within the first 45 minutes of Day One,” Girdley said. Subsequently, most days include six hours of classroom training, bookended by several hours of study hall where instructors are still available for assistance. Codeup punctuates the learning with lunchtime speakers, and recently held a hackathon competition. Throughout the 12-week course, students are continually assigned textbook reading. The emphasis is a hands-on learning of Lavarel, as PHP used in the creation of hundreds of millions of websites.

It’s an immersive, structured curriculum that Medrano was able to root in: “It filled that space between the ‘Pythagoras Theorem’ and ‘Here’s what to do,” Medrano said. He likens it to learning a new language, with the immediate focus on code that is immediately functional, “worrying about syntax later”. He particularly likes that the learning is iterative: material covered in the first week is used as a core that is continually revisited and built up from.

The next cohort of 30 students starts May 6th and is already half full, with 15 applications accepted out of 70 submitted, Girdley said. The review process involves a round of interviews with Codeup instructors. “What we ask ourselves during the interview process is ‘Can we help?’ and ‘What is their learn rate?” Girdley said. “I also want people I’m willing to be locked up with in a room all day,” he added with a good-natured laugh.

Prospective students can watch the current class via livestream or in-person, as well as read the team’s bios. The Codeup team includes four Instructors and three Lab Associates. “You’ve got a very experienced team here,” said Girdley, who has written four textbooks.

Codeup Seeks to Create New Developers in San Antonio

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Codeup logo“Learn to Program. Get a Job Offer. Guaranteed.”
This is the not-so-humble sales pitch of Codeup – a for-profit code education startup founded by San Antonio entrepreneur and angel investor Michael Girdley. The startup offers a nine week programming boot camp located at Geekdom of San Antonio which will teach the programming skills currently sought for in the workforce. The startup’s first boot camp, starting Feb. 3, will focus on web development and will cover Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and JavaScript. The camp price tag is $7,430, and if the student does not receive a job offer within six months of completing the course they get half their tuition back. Enrollment has already begun.
Girdley justifies his guarantee with his business approach. Before launch, he collaborated with both small startups and larger companies in need of developers to find out exactly what skill-set they want to hire.
“We went and talked to them and got feedback on what they are looking for. We added a whole set of methodologies in terms of how to work as a team of programmers to the course after meeting with certain employers,” Girdley said. “Ultimately we have two customers. One is the student and the other is the employers. We have really worked hard to have them meet in the middle for everyone to be happy.”
Codeup’s classroom experience is designed to be as intensive and hands-on as possible. Students will learn concepts quickly in 15 minute intervals and then immediately implement them with exercises lasting 20 minutes. Each class will hold 20 students. Girdley will be teaching the classes along with Jason Straughn, Samantha Atkins, and Chris Turner. During exercises, all four instructors will be present to answer any questions. Classes will be eight hours a day and five days week.
To ensure that graduating students get hired, Codeup has formed agreements with 18 startups and recruiting companies who have agreed to consider hiring the graduates upon completion of the course. A few of the employers Girdley has talked to – whom he can’t name at this time – have such difficulty finding developers that they are willing to hire immediately after graduation.
Despite its growing tech talent, finding full time developers in San Antonio is a difficult task — both for large companies like Labatt Food Service and smaller startups such as Geekdom’s TrueAbility. Founder and COO Frederick “Suizo” Mendler welcomes an easier way to find developer talent.
“For us, it is a constant challenge to find folks that can operate at a fairly high level when it comes to the dev stuff. If they produce a good candidate then, yea, we’ll take a look at them,” Mendler said. “All the other developers we hire, we have to go out and hunt them down, go find them in weird places.”
Codeup will start out with only one class of 20, and that class is already starting to fill up. Codeup has received seven applicants since they went public a week ago and have already confirmed two spots. Texas State University Communications Graduate Leslie Tolbert was the first to sign up. She developed a love of programming in her last semester of college but was having trouble learning it all on her own.
“I really feel it’s an investment to myself to make this bigger commitment. It’s really hard to teach yourself how to program through all the other resources out there,” Tolbert said. “It was really appealing to me to have the option that Codeup presents to work with a team of peers…in a collaborative space with expert instructors available to answer questions.”
Tolbert was also able to take advantage of one of the three women’s scholarships Codeup offers, which will pay for half of the tuition. Two are still available.
As a for-profit company, Codeup will raise revenue by charging tuition and by charging a placement fee to the employer when they hire a graduate. The employer’s fee will be equal to 10 percent of the graduates annual salary. Codeup currently has no competitors in San Antonio, but would be competing with MakerSquare in Austin. While the model is similar to Rackspace Hosting’s Open Cloud Academy, the two will not directly compete because they are teaching different skills. In another similarity to the Open Cloud Academy, Girdley says applicants do not need any prior coding experience to be admitted.
“If you are a smart person and you are willing to work hard, you don’t need to know anything. Show up, we will take care of you.” Girdley said.

Geekdom was a sponsor of Silicon Hills News. TrueAbility is an advertiser with Silicon Hills News.

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