The Coding Space: Two Year Update
Dear Family, Friends, and Advisors of The Coding Space,
Two years ago, Steve and I wanted to create a business that allowed us to make a deep impact in the lives of others.
After debating many different ideas (and failing at a few as well), we decided to start The Coding Space — an afterschool program where students would learn how to tackle challenges independently through learning to code.
We created non-conventional coding classes where students control their own learning path and develop intellectual confidence, a growth mindset, and computational thinking skills.
We wanted to take a few moments to reflect on our progress thus far and share our plans for the future.
In the past year, we doubled the school-year program from ~150 students per week and 15 part-time teachers to ~330 students per week and 30 part-time teachers. This includes classes 6-days per week at our Upper East Side location, a smattering of classes on the Upper West Side and Midtown Manhattan, as well teaching at the Avenues World School, The Dalton School, The Ramaz School, Ad Astra School, as well as at our students’ homes.
This summer, we have a girls-only camp on the Upper East Side, a co-ed camp on the Upper West Side, as well as returning to teach at the 92Y camps. We’re very excited that we already doubled the enrollment of our summer camp from last year from 100 to over 200 weeks sold — and the summer has barely started!
We recently hired our two of our part-time teachers full time, bringing the full time team count to five: Steve Krouse (co-founder), Eli Kariv (co-founder), Nicole Kelner (co-founder / 1st full time hire), Sophie Gorham, and Maddy Carter. In addition to being two of our most loved and reliable teachers, Sophie and Maddy have been key in helping us manage our teaching team and curriculum .
Our girls-only coding classes and summer camp, the GirlCode program, has been a breakaway success. We started this program to help close the gender gap in coding. Our GirlCode classes and summer camp are now just as popular — if not more — than our co-ed program. Though our co-ed classes are only ~25% girls, our program as a whole is over 50% girls, an unheard of ratio for a coding program.
WoofJS, our in-house programming platform, has come a long way since we launched it a year ago. We now have 700 users on woofjs.com and it even reached the #2 spot on Product Hunt!
We recently launched a new Woof feature that allows for Google-docs-style-collaborative projects and are now excited to refactor our database to allow for autosave and better analytics in the coming weeks. In the longterm, we see the value in cultivating the WoofJS community through a Woof ‘social network’ like Scratch has so students can share projects with each other. Our goal is 250 daily active WoofJS users by the end of 2017.
Steve has been researching and developing new programming languages, formerly called Cycle, and now called Rose.
Eli is planning to start running coding classes for moms in the Fall.
We’ll be running a gap year program in the fall, and launch the program more formally this upcoming Winter so that we have a full group of about 10 students next Fall.
Sophie will be helping us increase diversity and access to our classes for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds through outreach and scholarships.
Looking towards next year, our goal is to have 400 students per week during the school year. We’re losing robotics at Avenues (60 students per week), but we hope to make up the difference with the opening of a new Upper West Side location in the Fall where we will teach classes 6 days per week. We also plan to expand to Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan in the Winter or Fall of 2018.
We are expecting 70% year-over-year revenue growth this year, much of it coming from the explosive growth of our summer program. We expect to continue bootstrapping our growth from revenue and without outside capital for the foreseeable future.
We are having discussions with several people about franchising our model in different cities. There seems to be a lot of interest in this and we are in the process of figuring out the logistics required to make this happen.
We are also still exploring expanding through school partnerships, although we have been less motivated by this opportunity because we have much less control of the learning experience in schools. That being said, we have candidates applying for a commission-based sales position and are currently conducting interviews.
Reflecting on these past two years, we are tremendously thankful to be building The Coding Space which has given us the financial success and personal freedom to explore our passions and create a deep impact in our students’ lives.
We are extremely grateful to our family, friends, and advisors who have been instrumental in making this vision come true.
Steve, Eli, and Nicole (and now Sophie and Maddie too!)