Meet Chris, Co-Founder of BoiseCodeWorks

BoiseCodeWorks is a tech bootcamp coming to Boise in the coming months, and one that the community is very excited about. They are in the launch phase of their program and are currently accepting applicants for their first evening class beginning in late August. Interest in their program has been strong, and they are excited to see where they can take the good number of applicants they have already received. In the future, they hope to expand BoiseCodeWorks into full-time immersive courses as well.

According to founder Chris, this bootcamp is an idea that each of the three founders had separately and naturally, and the three found each other in order to fulfill their mission of bringing the necessary educational model to the tech community of Boise. Chris began developing the idea he had for a tech bootcamp and testing the water on his own by completing the initial phases of putting together a code school, including setting up a website for potential instructors and reaching out to the community to discuss what to include in the curriculum. These conversations lead him to a Craigslist post that had been set up by the other two founders, looking for people who would be interested in joining them to create a tech bootcamp. Chris, who was born and raised in Boise but living in Austin, Texas at the time, went back to Boise for a couple of days and was able to grab a beer with the other two founders. Their ideas, though grand and vague at the time, were similar, and the rest, as they say, was history.

According to Chris, “We realized our skill sets were very complementary, and since then it’s been smooth. We stay in touch regularly to get everything set up, mostly through email and Slack. They know the curriculum and the community and they know which technologies to teach. I’m handling the legal formation, marketing, outreach, and partnerships. It works out perfectly because we all have different perspectives and creative solutions to problems, which makes for a dynamic team.”

Chris’ educational background is in law, first receiving his education in finance and business administration at Gonzaga University in Washington and then going on to Boulder for Law School. Although he loves his line of work, he admits that it hasn’t been easy. “I graduated in 2011, which was one of the worst times to be a law school graduate in the history of law school,” says Chris, laughing. “I worked at a firm in Denver and had an externship with the Colorado Supreme Court. I’ve gotten a fair amount of varied experience that I think is going to pay off in the long run. Some of my best friends and the people I’m most impressed by are those who graduated from law school and those who I met through legal connections. There were probably easier ways to go, but I’m happy with it at this point and I know it will draw on those experiences for the rest of my life.”

Although Chris’ background is in law, he states that the transition into the tech world has been pretty seamless based on his strong interest in the field. “When I was in law school my roommate at the time quit his job in finance and built a website and taught himself Ruby on Rails,” says Chris. “Within six months he had joined a startup that was going through Tech Stars.” This sparked Chris’ interest, which lead him to participate in an entrepreneurial law clinic while at law school, which allowed him to work with some of the people that were founding tech startups. “I saw the passion and the energy and the talent behind it,” says Chris. Since then, Chris has taken some coding courses on his own and put together websites for friends and family as side projects. “I love the collaborative nature of trying to build something useful with like-minded people.”

The other Co-Founders include Jake, a passionate programmer with several years of experience teaching and writing software, who will be the primary instructor, and his brother Matt, who has over a decade of software development experience. According to Chris, Jake and Matt are highly respected in tech circles in the Treasure Valley, and their leadership in that community has proved invaluable so far. The founders are looking forward to bringing on additional talented instructors to the team from the Treasure Valley area. According to Chris, they are highly focused on bringing on professionals who have a lot of experience in that geographic area because the enterprise-focused tech industry of the Treasure Valley is a little different than your Austins, Boulders, and San Franciscos of the world, which are very startup-based environments. It is important to BoiseCodeWorks to remain true to what their community needs.

BoiseCodeWorks is hoping to build upon this commitment to their community in more tangible ways over time. They are hoping to expand to offer other educational opportunities, such as weekend workshops for high school students or those who want to sharpen their skills or get their feet wet, and design-oriented classes for that side of the industry. Chris imagines hosting workshops helping the elderly to understand tech better, or more generally helping to build the startup community in Boise into something stronger. Their goal is to become the go-to code school in that ecosystem, and a steady, helpful resource for the valley. According to Chris, “Living in Boulder, I often saw what a code school had the potential to be and what it could contribute to the community. I love the thought of bringing something valuable to the place that I’m from.”

Another thing that Chris loves about the journey of starting BoiseCodeWorks is the lean nature of the startup, and how much he has been able to collaborate with his co-founders. “It’s just exciting to work with them and know that our focus is the value of the education,” says Chris. “We want to make sure we bring in candidates that are sincerely interested in this, and we want people to know that it’s possible to change their lives with this kind of education. We want to provide a huge upgrade for them. It’s that kind of potential that I really love. Really, I can’t say anything bad about it.”

If you are interested in applying to BoiseCodeWorks, don’t hesitate. They are looking for anyone who can express a sincere interest. Chris confesses proudly that their application process is more personal than many other schools, and they try to build relationships with students early in the process. “We get a feel for who you are and what you want to do with the skills,” says Chris. “We want to work hard to find employers with good fits for all of our students. If you want to attend, it’s just a matter of committing yourself to the pre-course work and feeling that you are serious about doing this as a career.”

We are excited for BoiseCodeWorks to be the first bootcamp in the Treasure Valley and are looking forward to the partnerships they will be able to create with other accelerators and businesses within the Boise tech community.


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

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