July 27, 2021

You’re the Boss Blog: Coding Start-Ups Compete for Booming Market

Would YOU learn to code from this man? The ambassador talks shop in a Treehouse tutorial.Courtesy of Treehouse.Would YOU learn to code from this man? The ambassador talks shop in a Treehouse tutorial.


The adventure of new ventures.

If you build it, they will code.

That’s the attitude behind a groundswell of learn-to-program start-ups, all competing to put aspiring coders through their paces online. With target audiences ranging from neophytes living under rocks – “What’s a browser?” – to tech-savvy kids, entrepreneurs and mid-level developers, these young Web companies use game mechanics and narrative techniques to hold users’ attention and are part of the ongoing boom in online education.

Here’s a look at three coding start-ups that are leading the way:


Video tutorials welcome students to Treehouse Island, where they arrive in a zeppelin, meet a mysterious, eye-patch-wearing ambassador (see photo above) – think Mister Rodgers transposed to “Lost” — and unravel mysteries while learning to code in HTML, Ruby, Python, PHP and JavaScript. The service went live in November and offers three beginner-oriented learning tracks: Web design, Web development, and iPhone/iPad application creation.

Founder: Ryan Carson, 34.
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Employees: 23.
Financing: $600,000 angel round closed in October.
Revenue: Monthly sales hit $175,000 in December.
Users: 6,500 paying subscribers. Corporate clients include Disney and Estée Lauder.
Business model: Users choose between two tiers of access and pay $25 or $49 monthly, with a $9 student plan coming in February.
Special sauce: “We’ve done partnerships with Facebook, WordPress and LivingSocial,” Mr. Carson said. “They’re going to start recruiting people who’ve unlocked our badges for internships and jobs.”


Working inside the start-up incubator Y Combinator, a pair of former Columbia students noticed a lack of user-friendly online tools for beginning programmers. Codecademy began offering JavaScript training in August, quickly attracted major investments from Union Square Ventures, SV Angel and other heavy-hitters, and plans to roll out more programming languages soon. The company’s new initiatives — Code Year, a yearlong tutorial that started this month and attracted more than 350,000 users, and Code Summer+, a youth partnership with the White House announced last week — have won big attention.

Co-founders: Zach Sims, 21, and Ryan Bubinski, 22.
Location: New York City.
Employees: six.
Financing: $2.5 million venture round closed in October.
Revenue: None.
Users: more than 850,000.
Business model: “There is no revenue model at the moment,” Mr. Sims said. “Our first thing is the product.”
Special sauce: Broad appeal. “We got an e-mail from an 85-year-old stroke victim using it,” said Mr. Sims said. “We’ve seen people in almost every country in the world sign up.”

Code School by Envy Labs

In 2010, Web applications consultancy Envy Labs unveiled Rails for Zombies, an interactive Ruby on Rails teaching suite. Some 60,000 coders let the game eat their brains. Hoping to build on that success, the young company introduced Code School in March, targeting users who already know some programming but want to keep current with Ruby, HTML5, CSS3, CoffeeScript and jQuery. It plans to expand to an audience of new and younger users.

Founder: Gregg Pollack, 34
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Employees: Of Envy Labs’ 23 employees, a rotating cast of about five work full-time on Code School at any one time.
Financing: No outside money. Bootstrapped with $280,000 so far.
Revenue: $250,000 since debut.
Users: 90,000 registered for content, including free offerings like Rails for Zombies; 2,000 paying subscribers monthly.
Business model: $25 monthly subscription fee.
Special sauce: “We’re a different kind of start-up. We’ve used our consulting work to fund the development of projects like this,” Mr. Pollack said. “And the content isn’t introductory. Most of our customers are existing developers.”

Do you agree with programmer evangelists that coding is for everyone, especially entrepreneurs? What do you think of these rival start-ups’ plans, and would you consider using their services? Do you do your own coding, or outsource the task to others?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=cf7d06d542b4a3176e3aa866b0a334aa

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