Greasy fried chicken plus Hansel. Do you see where this is going? Nope, I’m not talking about going to the bathroom. I’ll tell you about Hansel and his relationship with fried chicken later. I’m actually talking about opening up our second coding school, and how I joined the Coder School team. When Hansel asked me to partner with him on this journey to teach kids how to code, the first condition was that I would be opening the second coding school in San Mateo close to where I live. I’d never run a business and knew absolutely nothing about brick n’ mortar businesses so of course I said yes. In all honestly, I do know about coding and I have two kids of my own so figured I would have Hansel there to guide me through all the brick n mortar stuff. The other probably more important reason I decided to partner up was for friendship. Ever since we’d both been married and had kids, we only saw each other about once a year perhaps at someone’s birthday party. It was quite different than being best friends and in a band together. So whether teaching kids to code was going to be a success or fail wouldn’t really matter because no matter what, we would definitely get to hang out on a regular basis again. Booyeah! And hey, it turns out I was right anyway, the plan went off without a hitch and we were able to launch Coding School #2 successfully!
When I reflect back on that period about 2 and half years ago, it’s almost surreal to think about that first step of hooking up with a commercial broker, and driving around to look at prospective spaces. It’s even crazier to think about all the late nights leading up to its Grand Opening. Late night deliveries of computers, chairs, desks, and constantly worried about the build out. Fun things like dealing with building & permit inspections and fire Marshals. And I’ll never forget about putting yard signs up all over the local neighborhoods. By the way, it’s actually illegal I found out. I was putting up some yard signs in public places which I thought was fine until a cop pulls up. Uh-oh! I just froze hoping he would pass me by but he didn’t. Even bigger uh-oh. He gets out and comes over and I was pretty much going number two in my pants (another reference to the title of this blog, see how I was able to work that in). He was nice though and just gave me a warning and let me know that yard signs are okay in public areas, but only if they have a political message. As I thought about it, my political message is that all kids should learn how to code. How’s that? Nonetheless, my yard sign sessions tended to be at 1 am after that.
Everything was new and exciting and I had no idea what I was doing. I continually asked Hansel lots of questions and followed his recommendations to a tee. In an odd sense, I was actually the first franchisee because we documented all of the steps that I took along with all of Hansel’s guidance and that was the foundation of our repeatable model of how to build a successful coding school.
The takeaway is that if you’re going to start a business, do it for reasons other than to make money. Do it for a good cause that you believe in like teaching kids to code. Make sure it’s something that makes you happy and that you enjoy. When I see a kid’s eyes light up because they just truly started to understand a new concept, it’s simply the best feeling! I was lucky as I also did it for friendship as well. We all know that going into business with a friend is not always the best idea. But it rocks when you’re both compatible so just be careful in business with friends, but don’t rule it out as it can be pretty rockin’!