Meet Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of Coder Foundry

Coder Foundry is a tech bootcamp with a lot of talent and a lot of heart. According to co-founder Lawrence Reaves, “There is a corridor of technology stretching from DC to Atlanta on the east coast where there’s a lot of demand for .NET technology, and we’re in the middle of it.”

Lawrence himself comes from a strong tech background with over 15 years of experience in the business.

Advanced Fraud Solutions is a software company he started seven years ago along with Coder Foundry co-founder Bobby Davis. It’s a model that takes an innovative, proactive approach to identifying fraud and risk for the financial institution, and is all built in .NET technology. One major thing that Lawrence came across while growing his company? A need for developers and a lack of supply.

One of the reasons for this is the simple fact that different coding languages are used for different types of enterprises. According to Lawrence, “On the west coast obviously there’s a lot more demand for Ruby and Python; it’s a broader spectrum. But kind of where we are it’s enterprise- and corporate-based. There aren’t as many startups, and these corporations have come to rely on .NET technologies.”

Long story short, .NET technologies are mature, developed, and scalable.

After difficulty finding developers that fit the bill, Lawrence and co-founder Bobby Davis decided they could develop a way to get the software engineers they needed themselves.

So they adapted the tech bootcamp model to something that was appropriate for what they were doing on the east coast. “We developed a 12-week course of full stack Microsoft. Our lead instructor and mentor, Andrew Jensen, has been teaching at the University of North Carolina for seven years.”

Lawrence with his family in Hawaii

The other part of the tech bootcamp equation is getting people jobs. That’s why Coder Foundry has a full time recruiter who works with students setting up and preparing for interviews. It’s probably part of the secret sauce that leads to Coder Foundry’s 95% placement rate.

While Lawrence has a strong background in technology, he admits to being “primarily a business guy.” He took technology courses as a concentration for his MBA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

However, Lawrence’s journey with technology began long before that. “I was coding some in high school, then I was coding again in VB in the early 2000s, so I’ve kind of dabbled in and out of it the whole time. I’ve kind of stayed on the business and sales side of all of it. My first exposure was writing loops and BASIC, early generation programing, I’m only 45 but I sound ancient when I say that.”

Coder Foundry dives a little deeper than that in regards to what they teach, and has a very robust and applicable curriculum. “Our curriculum right now is about MVC (front end Microsoft bootstrap, Visual Studio, CSS, and HTML) and Angular JS. There are two schools of thought out here, everyone’s learning MVC but some people are switching to Angular so we’re trying to fully prepare our students for everything.”

Not only are these students prepared with a strong knowledge base to buff up their resumes, but they also create create real-world projects to add to their portfolios. Coder Foundry students go into interviews knowing they can demonstrate everything they’re doing on their own.

The curriculum is well defined, and the projects are hashed out before anyone comes in for the first day of class. According to Lawrence, “We have a rigorous curriculum we keep the student on. It’s not a make-your-own-project. That way we can make sure they learn and accomplish what we want them too. They start out doing bug trackers because every company has the common need to have bugs reported, tracked, and resolved. Then students then build a financial portal which is much more complex.”

While the ideas that Lawrence and co-founder Bobby bring to the table represent each of their different backgrounds, they have a common goal. Lawrence comments that the ways in which people can choose to learn anything about technology presently are tenfold. “The options that people have now are so diverse. When I wanted to go into technology 15 years ago, there were two options: go to college or teach yourself.”

While a university education in computer science is no easy feat and certainly not a negative, there are a few issues Lawrence sees with the way tech education is run in this arena. It’s true that programs that are at the university level are accredited, but this can sometimes play against them because these accreditations are often five, six, or seven years behind what employers actually wants from their developers.

Lawrence has a good analogy for all of this. “You learn theoretical education in college. Tech bootcamps provide more of an apprenticeship where you can actually learn a skill and get placed in jobs three months later. It’s like blacksmiths back in the day. It’s about getting college graduates to learn to apply the skills they learned about. I think a lot of people come out of a degree program lacking some really hard skills. I wish I had the opportunity to attend a tech bootcamp myself back when I needed one.”

And nowadays, learning code isn’t something that is only for hardcore software engineers and developers.

“I think this is where our overall economy is heading. If you’re coming out with a background and an understanding of how code works, and you’re able to transfer that knowledge into other positions, that’s a great thing. So you may not want to be a coder but you can apply your coding knowledge to other positions to understand a particular business unit. When you understand coding you understand how these projects work and how to interact between technology and business units. It’s kind of amazing, if you look at the companies in the southeast, they’re all reliant on some sort of databased project, and most have a web-based need. It’s a common thread among every business to use the web.”

TL;DR // Quickfacts

What do you like to do in your free time?

I do a lot of fishing. I like freshwater fishing from North Carolina all the way to Florida. Most of the time it’s catch and release. I’m into respecting the fish and the environment.

Catch and release

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It was always an entrepreneurial flare, I always wanted to be in business. In the mid-90s when tech started to come into it’s own, that was what really drove me to pursue it as a career. It was an exciting time and I decided to make that my career choice.

If you could order any food and have it in front of you right now what would it be?

Fish tacos. When I’m in CA I eat them every day for lunch. Really anywhere in Southern California, they’re the best. Taco Surf in San Diego is awesome.

If a movie was made about your life who would play you?

The actor would have to be Harrison Ford so he could make me look as cool as Han Solo.

You get to have afternoon tea with whoever you want! Who is it?

One of the founding fathers. I’d like to talk to them about what some of their early intentions were and tell them where we are now, compare some notes.

What’s something you’re excited about right now?

That’s an easy one. It’s the personal change that I get to witness with Coder Foundry in the student’s lives. I’ve gotten to see a good full circle transformation in 12 weeks. To actually see people realize their dreams and achieve something in their lives to and launch into a career… It’s really amazing, it really makes you pause and think.


Originally published at blog.lendlayer.com on January 15, 2015.

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