What?  Another blog so soon?  Yeah, we can’t publish this thing with just a single lame post, can we?  As I’m writing this, my 11-yo son is playing Overwatch online, and there’s some other kid playing that’s squealing like a pig somewhere in the world, with his headset and mic.  The graphics are insane, and I’m feeling like I’m an Overwatcher (whatever that means).  Kinda funny, but really reminds me how far coding has come since I first started coding in middle school.  I seem to remember a little bit of BASIC, an Atari 800, and coding my first pixel-based Paint app.  MAN, I was proud of that app!

Anyway, I digress.  Why are we blogging?  Well, for SEO of course!  You can’t say we’re not all about transparency here.  SEO, for those who haven’t heard, stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is basically the question of “how do I rank higher when someone searches for me?”.  And so while we definitely hope to entertain and inform you, our main purpose is a little more self-serving (some may say nefarious!)!

We recently hooked up with some awesome folks at newmedia, an SEO consultancy, and just had our first meeting where they were going to tell us all the ways we could get our page ranking up in Google.  After paying them a big chunk of money, I was expecting some sweet revelations about what we could edit and click here and there and presto, up goes our Google page rank!  Well, turns out it doesn’t work that way.  We were ranking decently well it turned out, and turns out lots of people are searching for learning to code, coding for kids, or kids coding schools.  (see how I did that?  I put in some sweet key words to this blog so Google can find me better!).  But the biggest output after tossing them a few G’s?  We need to write blogs!

“Wait!  That takes WORK, doesn’t it?”, I asked.  “Wait, don’t people usually just outsource this stuff?”, I continued.  “Wait, engineers like me aren’t good at writing, are we?”, I complained. Rhetorical questions aside, we had a good logical-thinking contest between Wayne and I, and came up with the answer – we needed to suck it up and blog like a mother.

Part of the awesomeness of this business is that Wayne and I meet up once a week at some sunny outdoors place in the Bay Area, and catch up on status of our respective parts.  Wayne talks coding curriculum and operations, and I talk school franchising and learning strategy.  Yeah, there’s a lot of business involved.  But you can bet two best friends who used to be in a punk-pop band together are talking other crazy (i.e., inappropriate!) stories too.  Can you imagine having a fun low-stress weekly meeting with your best friend for work that you love?  It’s the most kick-butt experience ever.

We decided this blog would be the PERFECT opportunity for us to document all the stupid ideas, funny stories, and lessons learned we’ve had while teaching thousands of kids to program a computer in some way.  We can look back fondly when we’re on our death bed and go “Remember that time you farted at the IFA conference right before that VP came up to you and shook your hand?”.  And while we’re at it, hopefully we’ll get some better SEO too!  So you ready to find out more about starting a coding school?  About how we teach kids to love computers and programming?  Of course you are.  Read on.

Print “Hello World”!  Can you think of a dorkier way to start our blog?  I can’t.  I guess you’ll have to live with the dork factor because I’m not really a writer, I’m just a coder with some musical background who decided to start a business that teaches kids to code!  Three years ago, my best buddy Wayne and I started on this awesomely fun journey to not only build a company together, but have an amazingly fun experience while we’re at it.  We’ve never been hardcore entrepreneurs looking to build a unicorn, raising VC money and spending it on private jets.  Instead we’ve always wanted to build a lifestyle business while having the best time doing it, and being super-proud of the stuff we build.  This blog’s all about our experiences along the way.  Man, I wish I would have started documenting this sooner, but hey I’m not going to go back in time and re-doc, am I?  No way.  When there’s too much to explain, I like to go summary-mode, so here goes!

Three years ago, I had just weaned myself off of running my own School of Rock franchise that I bought (and learned a tooooon from!), and was looking for my next thing.  This was back in the day when coding for kids wasn’t a big thing yet, and when code.org was really just getting started.  I’m a coder, so I knew my then-11 yo daughter should learn to code, so did what any normal dad would do – threw her online to kahnacademy and went off to watch TV!  She got through it surprisingly fast – so clearly she’s getting her awesome coder powers from her dad, right?  I told her I was impressed she got through the Javascript module so fast, she must be a prodigy kid coder, right?  So I asked her “hey, so what’s this variable here do”, and her life-changing answer?  “What’s a variable?“.

And thus Coder School was born.  I realized that while there were resources online for teaching kids to code, they often really weren’t effective without a live person sitting there to actually INTERACT with the kid.  Kids just want to get to the end, right?  Beat the level, get the certificate?  But do they want to learn?  Are they really learning or just getting to the end?  My idea was that coding ain’t no easy subject, and kids can most effectively learn only when they have a mentor/instructor guiding them.  And hey, waitaminute, didn’t I also just say I learned a lot from my School of Rock?!  Yep, I learned how to deal with parents, how to operate an educational business, blah blah blah – but you know what I really learned?  That kids are all different, and the best way to teach them is to CUSTOMIZE what you teach, to their skills and their desires, so you can hook em.  Kids won’t learn to code unless they WANT to learn to code, right?

That basic philosophy is still the core of what the Coder School is about, and drives how we teach our kids in every way.  With this first post about how my own coding school got started out of the way, I’m outta here.  Gonna go teach some kids to code – H out!