Coding Dojo CEO Richard Wang says the company’s new headquarters in downtown Bellevue will grow conservatively, in sync with the programming boot camp’s expansion into other national and international markets.
“The need for software engineers is there,” said Wang, a 29-year-old boot camp graduate who learned from and was recently hired on by Coding Dojo founder Michael Choi. “We just have to contribute to closing the engineering gap here.”
The company took over 5,200 square feet of former Limeade office space — the workforce engagement startup outgrowing its footprint — at the Surrey Building on Main Street earlier this month and plans to open up dojos in Los Angeles, Dallas and the Philippines this year.
“When Michael Choi asked me to help out,” Wang said, “it was a ‘yes’ automatically.”
Coding Dojo offers 12-week immersive web development boot camp programs the company claims can catch up novices or keep skilled programmers up on the coding languages — Dojo teaches three as core skills — they need to stand out in the highly competitive tech sector.
The company reports 92 percent of its “Black Belt” graduates — those passing all proficiency tests — find employment within 60 days of completing a program. Not all students are aspiring programmers, Wang said, some simply looking to add a skill. There are also the entrepreneurs who want to be able to satisfy some of their own information technology needs.
Coding Dojo offers three full stack coding education programs — ranging from $7,000 to $10,000, with scholarships available — that Wang said tend to fill up quickly once registration opens, however, there is also a competitive selection process that can take 1-2 weeks to complete before being accepted; an average four out of every 10 applicants will be. Wang said he doesn’t see Coding Dojo as competing with higher education institutions, but complementing them.
Getting students ready for an entry-level tech job in 12 weeks is its own challenge. Wang said they can spend 70-90 hours a week learning and using code, adding he recommends Coding Dojo’s onsite programs over online-only.
“You learn a concept and then you build it right away,” he said.
Operating dojos in both the Puget Sound region and California’s Silicon Valley — two tech sector ecosystems constantly battling for supremacy — Wang said his company is choosing to base itself in Bellevue because of its city council’s commitment to growing the city as a hub for startup companies. He noted the city’s recent partnership with Impact Hub for a startup incubator. extraSlice celebrated the grand opening of its 4,000-square-foot startup facility in Bellevue in early December. The IT needs of startup companies can vary greatly, Wang said.
While Coding Dojo continues to seek out other tech markets in need of more skilled software engineers, Wang said he also wants to develop partnerships with Bellevue businesses to find problem-solving opportunities for dojo students, all of whom are required to complete a final project at the end of their 12-week courses.
“We’d love to be in sync with local businesses to contribute, and nonprofits as well,” he said.