Why a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol?
How, and why, we started Develop Me is something we talk about often with prospective students and people interested in our business, but it’s never been put down in black and white. So for the record, here it is.
Develop Me has a founding team of three –
Prior to starting the company we all worked in the digital, tech and creative industries in various guises. Oli was a long time Developer and Tech Director, Al owned and managed Creative and Digital agencies, and I worked in Tech Recruitment (bad rep I know, but I did things the right way).
I met Oli in 2012 when helping him to make a move in his career into a new Tech Director role at an advertising agency. We hit it off, became friends and over time I helped him to build his team at that agency. Finding and hiring Developers at that time was becoming increasingly difficult, the growing skills gap was having a noticeable impact – and recruitment had become a game of moving the same pool of people from one company to another. Something needed to be done and it seemed obvious to me that this needed to be tackled from the ground up.
All great ideas start in the pub
Oli and I were at the pub talking about the issues facing the industry from a recruitment perspective. I’d stumbled across the Coding Bootcamp model that was gaining traction in the US and said to Oli: “This is an interesting model, would be great if something like this existed over here.”
His response… “We could do that.”
A few months later, we caught wind of someone else (unbeknownst to us, our future partner Al) making tracks down the same path. On many occasions we seemed to be meeting with the same people, often on the same day, talking about the same idea of setting up a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol. Eventually, our paths crossed with Al – a twitter message, led to a meeting and an almost identical business plan for a Coding Bootcamp.
A coding course leading to a job in tech
It made perfect sense to join forces – Oli had the technical expertise and could develop and deliver the curriculum, Al had business experience and a keen interest in progressive and innovative business models, and I had insight into what the industry needed and could line-up job opportunities for our bootcamp graduates.
We very nearly didn’t make it, encouraging people to part with the best part of £8,000 on an unproven programme is, unsurprisingly, difficult. However, we were confident we could teach people everything they needed to know to land a job as a Junior Developer in 12 weeks. It took a lot of faith from that first cohort to make the leap and invest in both their, and our, future. We ended up running that first cohort short on students and making a financial loss, however, the decision to go ahead rather than jack it all in, has thankfully proved to be an excellent one.
5 years later – thriving Bristol Coding Bootcamp!
So here we are 5 years after that night in the pub with 13 runs of our Coding Bootcamp complete, tons of happy graduates transitioned into tech, an employment rate of 98%, and a growing network of hiring partners that keep coming back to us for more Developers.
Learning about teaching people to code
We have learnt a lot; about ourselves, about each other, about teaching people to code, about business, about risk, about people, about the importance of collaboration, about complacency and about never standing still.
When we started out we were the first Coding Bootcamp in the South West and only the second in the UK. There are a few more around these days, some right on our doorstep. We haven’t stopped moving since the day it all started and can’t see a time when we will. This industry progresses so quickly – we embrace that pace of change and relish the opportunity we have been given to help people looking to accelerate their careers in tech and help companies to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with technology.