My startup journey in a nutshell

This post was written by one of our founders, Ruffa Carreon and originally posted on medium.com.
Nine months ago, we started a coding bootcamp in the Philippines, Uplift Code Camp. Our mission is to teach relevant programming skills and help more individuals to jump start their tech careers — get better jobs, build apps and share the knowledge to more people.
We are a team of three developers, Gen and Mike (in Seattle) and me (in Manila), juggling our day jobs while building the bootcamp. It’s definitely a challenge but us having the same passion and commitment on education, made Uplift possible.

How did we start?

We started on developing the curriculum, spending months on getting insights from many other programs, cross comparing them with our own experiences and tailor fitting it to be consumable by people with no background and also challenging enough for those who have some basics. And as we are rolling it out, we’re learning from our students and feeding it back to how we can improve the program and the learning experience.
Next up, we sought for a teaching partner. Teaching is a completely different art, it’s not enough to be a good developer in order to be able to teach effectively. Patience, empathy, ability to explain concepts in simple ways, actively reading and listening of the students, continuously pursuing the students’ success are important. And after 3 months of seeking, we had PJ join us. With years of teaching experience and the same passion on helping more individuals learn programming, he is a rockstar.
Our batch 1 classes started December last year with a team of 8! We had very good diversity — gender, background and motivation. There’s Computer Science graduates from a long time ago, marketing and sales people, a chemical engineer and a hardware technician. A fun group who have hopes to shift career, build their own startups and just learn something new.
On their last month in the program, the Wuhan coronavirus hit. It caught us unprepared but we rallied through, brought our classes online and provided the needed support of our students. However, the situation was not just about staying home, social distancing and providing them the resources and coaching. Some of our students needed to find a way to provide for their families and some do not have internet connection. Their health and welfare is our priority, so we’ve extended the program indefinitely until the situation stabilises.
However, we wanted to continue helping more individuals learn programming. So we opened our second batch.
The classes has just started last week! It’s our first time for a fully online learning mode and thus we’re excited to learn along. We’ve identified risks and planned ahead. Over-communication and being very conscious on students’ engagement are top of our minds. Am personally excited to flesh out unknowns and power through them.

Learnings

There have been a lot that I can go on and on and on. But I’ll center on these four:
Focus on the process rather than the results
We can only guide them in so much during the bootcamp. So what we really want them to takeaway after is the hunger for continuously learning, the capability to effectively do so and a community that they can reach out for support.
Debugging tools and coding standards are priceless
As early as possible, it is very important for developers to know how to use their debugging tools and also build the habit around following coding best practices. It saves a lot of time in finding where the errors are and even without any bugs, debugging tools are great ways in understanding what’s really happening on the code.
Be ready to pivot
People have different learning styles and it’s important to have a certain level of freedom in pivoting to better fit the program to the students. There may also be unprecedented situations, like the pandemic, that we have to adapt to and overcome.
Clear and aligned expectations; and over communicating them
Misaligned expectations is one primary reason for frustrations and anxiousness. Whether it be unclear and unrighteous expectations on self or others. And the value of having this clear and aligned is a popular concept. But nonetheless, it’s sneaky and is a culprit of breaking things up. So I say, over communicate them. Better to err in the side of overly talking about this than being locked up in common sense land assumptions.

What’s next for us?

We continue to ask ourselves these questions: Where can we add value the most during these times? How can we continue enabling more individuals to learn despite of the many challenges of learning?
How can we founders effectively work together having full time jobs and being in different timezones?
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below.

Comments