Recent Codify Academy News
- Learn Web Development at these 10 Part-Time Bootcamps
- Codify Academy Women in Tech Panel: Land Your First Tech Job
- February Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
Recent Codify Academy Reviews: Rating 4.58
Front End Development
In 16 weeks, we're going to transform you into a fully fledged front end developer with a great portfolio, no matter your starting point. You'll be able to manipulate websites and online tools like a pro. We'll also help you find a job in your prefered sector when you're finished with the course.
- Minimum Skill Level
Hybrid (Online & In-person)
Front End Development
In 16 weeks, we're going to transform you into a fully fledged front end developer with a great portfolio, no matter your starting point. You'll be able to manipulate websites and online tools like a pro. We'll also help you find a job in your prefered sector when you're finished with the course.
- Minimum Skill Level
$500 Codify Academy Scholarship
Course Report is excited to offer an exclusive Codify Academy scholarship for $500 off tuition!
Offer is only valid for new applicants. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- Front End Development (San Francisco)
Codify Academy Reviews
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I was a part of the Codify Academy program for 16 week course. Chris was my mentor. This 16 week journey was amazing. I got to learn so much from the mentor as well as the peers. They have a well drafted course. Each and every element of the course is instrumental in today'd job roles. As this is a weekend only course, so you will have to put in a lot of HARD WORK yourself in learning the new language or new framework. The best part is, that these guys are extremely flexible with any kind of assistance that you may want. You could also visit them during office hours for the week days to have your dounts cleared. The mentors are super swift in replying to your Emails. Although there is no Job Assistance program but they surely will help you in building your profile, resume, Cover letter, Linked In profile etc.
The instructors were nice and easy to work with.
Promising reviews from alumni.
Less expensive than most onsite boot camps in San Francisco.
Misleading salary figures from their ads.
Poorly curriculum filled with free resources which can be found in most free/prep code boot camp's' curriculums.
The instructors didn't answer questions in time.
Lack of support to develop my personal portfolio. Everything was on my own.
Their ads said they are a 16-week boot camp. In fact, it is a 12-week program + 4 job assistance (pretty own on my own).
Not much of job support. Everything is on my own.
In conclusion, I have to look for other online courses to learn web development. It was a poor decision to trust their ad campaign online. I have to learn the lesson and move on.
- Codify is run by three brothers who started out as programmers themselves, so they have great hands-on experience.
- Price-point for course is relatively inexpensive compared to other bootcamps
- All textbooks are included in the price, as well as your first domain/hosting service for a year (where you will showcase your portfolio of sites/apps you build)
- They hold weekday evening workshops every once in a while and will often provide a meal then, as well as snacks (fresh fruit) during regular weekly meetings
- I would really like to give these guys a few more stars but I really can't . To start off, Codify is misleading and tells potential students that they are "ready to be hired" at the end of the 16 weeks. In reality, when applying for positions and talking to people actually working in the industry, they're feedback has often been that there were quite a few things missing in terms of experience and projects to get hired at an entry-level position.
- In a class of 10-12 students that graduated in June (6 months later), there is currently 1 person I know of who has gotten a developer job, post-course completion. Many more folks, from my group and others who have actually gone on to take on other types of jobs because they couldn't break into the developer field with their Codify training.
- They sometimes teach different things to different classes, so you don't know if you're getting everything you need.
- They often say "please let me know if you have any questions" but it will often take them a week or longer to answer emails/questions (and some go unanswered all together). I was sometimes "ping-ponged" back and forth between one instructor and another before someone actually answered a question, and at times when they did so, they could be rude and passive-aggressive about it, instead of being encouraging and helping me learn. Not cool.
- When I signed up for the course, I opted to work with one of their suggested partners WeFinance (a startup that does crowd funding campaigns by having the campaign owner ask for loans that will be repaid on an agreed-upon schedule). When I initially got in contact with Codify Academy, I was told the course would last 12 weeks. I signed up with WeFinance and determined a pay-back schedule keeping this in mind, as well as how long they said a student usually takes to get a job (2-6 months).
As it turns out, when I thought I was in my last week, the instructor informed me, laughing non-chalantly that there was actually another month left in the course. Of course, this wreaked havoc with my crowd-funding campaign. Did not receive any acknowledgment, apology or help with this, either.
- Their "job prep" is a workshop where students go through a checklist for technical questions and then they mock-interview each other. They also give anecdotes of previous students who have been successful at presenting "value" to companies they want to work for. All things you can learn on your own, online.
Conclusion: I absolutely learned some front end code while at Codify, but that's also because I have had the experience of teaching and facilitating; so I have a pretty good idea of how/where to fill in the gaps of their teaching style for myself.
If you already have some experience with coding and/or you feel very confident about your ability to teach yourself when needed and find a job, you'll be ok with Codify. However, for the majority of folks, especially those with no programming background, it's well-worth it to spend a bit more and get a better education, elsewhere.
I first joined Codify Academy because it was the least expensive bootcamp I found. Didn't think much of it, but, after the first session I quickly realized it was going to be an intense 4 months of grinding. If I wanted to be a good developer, I was going to have to put a lot of hours into the course. The mentors are all available if you ever need any help. If one cannot assist you right away, you can contact another and they'll be able to follow up with your problem. They emphazise trying to figure things out on your own through web research and the books they provide, but if you get really stuck, they will guide you through and they'll make sure you understand the steps before you continue. One thing about the mentors is that they treat you as a friend, not just another student. They want you to feel comfortable with them and they want you to succeed.
I was lucky enought to have gotten hired by a tech company before my program ended. I presented myself as a web developer who decided to pursue a different career and having Codify Academy on my back and knowledge about coding definitely added value to my resume.
If you want a career change into the tech world, I definitely recommend joining Codify Academy, especially if you still need to work. Their part time (open office) model allows you the flexibility in getting the time in to work on your coding. There are so many careers in tech and having knowledge of programming will bump you on top of the line.
Codify Academy was a great and intense 16 week program. For cheaper than what a semester at your typical college cost, you'll learn top of the line programming skills that will qualify you for multiple well paying front-end developer jobs as well as freelancing for people who need a flexible schedule. Even after graduation, mentors are readily available to help with interview prep and projects to insure your long-term success.
If you're serious about becoming a developer and career advancement, Codify is definitely the place for you.
I was a project manager and sales consultant for a sign company. There was no opportunity for advancement and higher compensation so I knew I had to make a change. That’s when I came across Codify’s website. I didn’t know anything about coding before I attended Codify Academy. With their mentorship, I learned the fundamentals of front end web development. 2 months after completing the course, I got a job as a front end web developer/designer and I am also in charge of my company’s creative department.
Like any course, you get out of it what you put into it. And you will have to put a lot into it if you want to get a job. Its intense, and it isn’t easy. Taking advantage of your time in class and with your coding mentor is key. You also might be lucky enough to work on real-life projects that provides you with the opportunity to showcase your new web dev skills and add to your portfolio. In my opinion, one of the best parts of Codify is that you can still seek advise from your mentors and have a place to work on your projects even after you complete the course.
If you are thinking about attending Codify Academy, I recommend doing so, but know that you will need to work your tail off to be successful. With Codify’s help, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be.
16 weeks of useful industry knowledge to get you going in your new carrier. Mentors always available to guide and motivate you through the ups and downs. Focused current curriculm to get you a job quick!
I am now nurturing my career and freelance business.
Codify Academy is a great program for becoming a developer. I never thought I'd be coding as much as I do now, and now it's all I can do. Thanks to Codify I learned how to program in just 16 weeks! Definitely taking the time to see if the program fits you, whether you're looking for a career change or just want to learn something new.
I have a small background in programming with C++ and Ruby but Codify Academy has, by far, been the most educational experience of my life so far not only because the mentors are an immense help but because they teach the right skills that are required in today's job market. See Codify as an investment in your future as a web developer if this is really what you want to do. Sure the ad says you'll earn x-amount once the course is done but you really have to invest as much time as your as investing money. I work 40+ hours a week and go to school during the week and still made time for codify and all of the projects. By no means was working full-time, going to school, and doing codify easy. There were countless nights where I would come home from work and pull all-nighters because I wanted to fully understand everything that we were learning during the course and I believe that was key to attending codify. You have to have a true passion for coding or else you won't get to where you want to be by the end of this course. I want to emphasize that Sam, Matt, Chris and all of their student-mentors are the best mentors that you could have for a program like this because they honestly want to see all of their students succeed and find jobs. Instead of telling you how to fix something, they will ask you open-ended questions so that you can help yourself figure out the problem. If you want to make a career change and are willing to put in the work or if you want to expand your skills as a programmer/developer then Codify Academy is the place for you!
CodifyAcademy is definitely a bootcamp i would recommend to anyone. It definitely worked out for me. Very flexible that fit my super busy work schedule. The mentors are great chris, matt and sam is very helpful, full of encouragement, positive atitude and will do everything they can to help you succeed from the begining of the course to even after landing your dream job as a web developer but even with the help of the awesome mentors its still you get what you put in and you definitely have to put in alot of work. I say average 20 hours a week self study but keep in mind its only 16 weeks. Codify location enviroment is great it gives you that sense of how it'll be like in the work field, downtown SF, tall buildings, open space and kitchen, couches, panarama view and even a ping pong table when you want to take a little break from all that stuyding! You will have the full support from the staff and other students around you because everyone goal is the same for all to succeed.
Codify Academy is an awesome bootcamp that you get what you put into it. The mentors are genuinley there to help with any questions you have and check in on your progress. The curriculum is very fast paced and will have to spend the time learning it. I like that the class is on a weekend because I'm busy during the week. The class is a total of 10 students and I recommend to pair up with another to study. Office hours are crucial to have your questions answered and get projects done. Fundamentals are important. Don't be expected to know everything. You can always be working on something to better your skills from fixing your projects to building your portfolio.
I would recommend Codify Academy to anyone that wants to learn a new skill and has an interest in coding.
I couldn’t have found a better school that fit me and my style of learning. With no technical background, I was hesitant about their promise to help find employment and learn code in a matter of a few weeks, but it’s true. People have left the program with jobs they love and finishing my last month, I already feel like this program has given me the tools and support needed to jumpstart my career in tech.
When you begin, you’ll have a mentor that stays with you from start to finish, but I’ve honestly felt like i’ve had four teachers helping me progress and genuinely interested in my work. It also doesn’t hurt to have teachers you can play ping pong with or drink with during one of their workshops. Yes, the place has ping pong tables and free beer on tap.
I’ve attended other events on meetup where other part-time bootcamp students felt their only way towards employment was another bootcamp. Knowing I felt more confident with applying reassured me that I made the right choice. With CA, these guys are and have been there every step of the way and I’m happy I took a chance on them.
Codify Academy has been such a great experience! The mentors are very knoweladgeable, current with industry trends/standards, accesible, and very friendly. They have really made learning to code, something that I was initially very intimidated by, so approachable, and exciting! I am finishing up my corusework soon, and have no doubt that I will have the support from them, in the process of landing a job as well. I feel very prepared to start my new career as a developer. I highly recommend this school!
This is the perfect course for people who work full time and are looking to advance their careers in Front End Development. The teachers/mentors are extrememly helpful and they always make sure that their students are comfortable with what they are learning. I felt I had support in whatever I attempted and if I had any questions on the job, they were only a text or phone call away. The mentors are open to feedback and actually seek feedback in order to improve their future courses, which is nice to have in an ever-evolving industry. No matter what level you are at, novice or advanced, you are guaranteed to grow as a professional.
I would recommend this course to ANYONE thinking about making the next step in the field of front-end development!
Great learning environment and perfect schedule for people that have full time job during the week. Teachers and mentors at Codify Academy are helpful and responsible for both class materials and how to get a good job after you finish the course. If you are still searching and looking around for a good coding bootcamp. Codify Academy is what you need.
I'm currently a student at Codify Academy, and am pretty confused by the negative review below.
Codecademy is extremely basic. I've done it and know first hand that you cannot possibly learn as much as we cover in class or in the projects that these guys provide us.
When I first talked with these guys over the phone, Sam was really insistant on making sure I understood how project based vs lecture this class is. For me the value wasnt even in the "content" it's a guide to help me build and learn how to ask questions, Like when your CSS doesnt effect your HTML, you need to know how to ask the right questions to solve that. anyways for what its worth I liked the projects I and the mentorship was more important than the videos (Dont tell Matt).
If you haven't talked with them yet, give them a call. They'll also get you in touch with current and graduate students too! That's what I did before the course, I spoke with Brian, and he was extremely helpful and encouraging.
Before I took this course, I tried to learn how to code on my own. I spent about 6 months working through online resources and books, but lacked the core fundamentals I needed to get hired.
So what do they provide if all the info is either in books or online? Guidance.
This course took me from 10 - 60 in 16 weeks and helped me land my first web development job.
I chose this school because I found it on facebook, attracting me into their "course" the first week it was cool.
After the 2-4 week I noticed I am learning through "codecademy.com" it is a free resource..
Codify Academy is a course where they teach online materials that are from free open sourced.
So what im trying to say is.. whatever you find online that is free... Codify Academy will "teach those free courses to you".
If you're looking for a coding bootcamp where teachers and group projects force you to be present and working for 90+ hours/week and/or if your motivation to learn and grow derives from external pressure then this might not be right experience for you.
Codify is all about what you make it. I personally spent every free minute eating, breathing and sleeping code and i got what i wanted: a job as a software engineer, with no prior coding experience.
The mentors are incredibly nice and cool dudes that really, really care about your future, what your goals are and even help you with extra projects you wanna work on. You're not just another student in a big batch of people with a strict learning agenda. Every week they check in with you 1:1, try new things during class like getting us food and fruits while working and make sure you as a stundent are able to achieve anyting you want.
"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see." —If you have a clear goal, are ready to do whatever it takes and -- most importantly --believe you can do it, then there is no better coding bootcamp than this one. Promise. :)
This review will have three sections: 1) life before codify, 2) life during codify and 3) life after codify
I started my educational journey(college) at the University of California at Santa Cruz majoring in Sociology or as I like to call it "wizadry." Late in my program I discovered programming, however I did not know at that time I wanted to pursue this passion as a career until later on. I spent years(approximately 4) trying to learn on my own, spent not wasted, however I found Codify a few months ago and it changed my life.
Sept. 2015 I quit my job as a Software Salesman and joined Codify Academy and started driving Uber on the side as a part time gig to pay the bills. I have learned more in this stretch of time than any other point in my programming career. Codify taught me two very big lessons:
- always value my work
- where theres a will, theres a way
I don't think I would have the job I do today if it weren't for these guys!
Mar. 2016 I am gainfully employed at a Software Company called Blue Rocket and am as happy as can be. I am a full stack developer utilizing Nodejs/Angular amongst a plethora of other wonderful tools. Codify Academy is like a gang, you can't quit haha. Its more like a family. I still visit once in a while and come to help a lot of the students out with current projects as well as give them some insight as to what they should expect walking into their first development job. I am planning on co-teaching a little later on to help expose future students to certain frameworks and testing tools.
Love you guys!
Thanks to Codify Academy, I was able to learn how to code in HTML, CSS and use jQuery. After graduating, they helped me find a job in web development by critiquing and helping to edit my online portfolio, resume and cover letters. The workshops to improve those 3 were very helpful in landing my first job as developer.
THESE GUYS ROCK! Matt is a very thorough mentor helped me for any question I had and challenged me as well. He made me see a vision in my career I have never seen before. I am no contracting at Uber and enjoying where I am in my life and career as well. I absolutley reccomend coming here as a student that wants to learn about the software industry.
This course was great. The delivered what they promised and much more. When I started I had been trying to teach my self coding for about 2 months. I learned more in the first week than I did the entire 2 months of trying to teach myself. Now I can make full websites from scratch. In terms of the job search they were super helpful. They consulted me after every interview, phone or in person. They critiqued my resume several times, and helped me find all the best avenues to apply on. I now have an awesome job, and am making a pretty penny too. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn front end development.
There are a couple issues I have with what they promise, and what they actually deliver.
1. They advertise this bootcamp as a 16 week course. It's actually a 12 week course, and 4 weeks of applying to jobs (basically by yourself).
3. They also said they had a pool of recruiters and individual companies they work with to get us hired. This is not true. They didn't have a single recruiter.
I indeed learned a lot, but I feel like I deserve a partial refund. If the course lasted another 4 weeks there would've been enough time to actually learn Angular, AJAX and API's.
With all that said my instructor was really nice, and it is possible to get hired if you have enough self drive.
Our latest on Codify Academy
(updated August 2016)Continue Reading →
Codify Academy, a hybrid front-end bootcamp with locations in New York & San Francisco (and expanding!) recently hosted their first Women in Tech event featuring a panel of impressive female leaders and business owners in New York. The panel was well-attended by women and men hoping to make the transition to startups from non-profits, corporate work, and finance. We learned a ton from this spectacular group of women- from the skills you need to join a startup tomorrow (and how exactly to get them), to the blogs and Twitter accounts you should be following today. Kanwal Jehan, the marketing director for Codify Academy, moderated the panel, and now shares this advice with the Course Report community!
CEO of Startup Institute
About Diane: I’m a serial entrepreneur on my third company. The company that I founded in 2000 was called Communispace, which helped brands listen to and get advice from their consumers by building online communities. About six months ago, I decided it was time for me to do something new, and I’m now CEO of Startup Institute. Some of our fabulous graduates are right up here on the 10th floor of this building. Startup Institute basically helps the 70% of college graduates who are either underemployed or miserable in their jobs get the skills, mindset and network to have the job and the life that they love. I actually live in Boston, but I spend a lot of time here in New York.
My Superpower: I’d like to be able to read people’s minds. I’ve spent thirteen years trying to help big companies read the minds and hearts of their consumers and I think it would be amazing to be able to do that with my very own superpower.
On the skills someone needs to enter the startup space: There’s a great quote that I love from Warren Buffett: “If your IQ is 150, sell 30 points because you only need to be smart enough.” I see that every day. There are some skills that are the ticket to entry. If you want to work in tech, you should understand the language of tech and have some technical skill. “Technical marketing” is so important these days. When I grew up in marketing, I learned the "Four Ps" and I learned branding; that is not marketing in 2015! Marketing is HTML, CSS, Google Analytics, Data Management, SEO, etc. You have to have some level of technical understanding and skill. If you don't have those skills, you can take courses. You don’t have to be an expert, because you’re going to learn a lot on the job.
CEO of In Your Corner
About Bea: I am the founder and CEO of In Your Corner. We are a marketplace for human happiness. We connect clients from all over the world with licensed therapists, life coaches and guided meditation teachers.
My Superpower: My fun fact is that I’m the first black woman from the United States to be accepted into Y Combinator. I’m really happy to speak here tonight because you can’t be what you can’t see. This is really selfish, but if I had a superpower I would like to sleep more. I would love to sleep 10 hours every day.
How I found my first mentor: There are two requirements for being a founder. You have to be shameless and you have to be fearless. I think the idea of ‘having a mentor’ is a lot more formalized than it needs to be. People get the idea that you have this Mr. Miyagi character and he likes you and trusts you. In reality, you’ll get an email and beg your mentor to help you and they calm you down and help you get through it. I made everybody my mentor. You want to make it easy for people to work with you. Don’t say, “Let me pick your brain.” Everybody hates that. Just say something like, “Hey, I’d love to take you to drinks.” My first mentor was Cindy Gallop, who has two startups: If We Ran the World and Make Love Not Porn.
Why I started In Your Corner: I say I’m a two-time entrepreneur: my first one didn’t go great. The reason I started In Your Corner for online therapy is because after my first company failed, I was really depressed. And even though I’m a therapist and all my friends were therapists, I still didn’t want anybody to know. Also, because I’d sunk all of my money, when I went back to my office job, I had to waive my right to health insurance because I couldn’t afford the extra $100 being taken out of my check. I couldn’t get a therapist through my insurance even though I wanted to. I realized that I was an advocate for this space and a practitioner in this space, and it was still so hard for me to deal with all these clunky, frustrating steps. It must be that much harder for the average person. The reason my first company failed was because I didn’t know the market. It was a company for stay-at-home moms. I was 25 and didn’t know anything!
On Shark Tank: I actually got accepted on Shark Tank after casting had closed. The best advice I can give as far as getting into Y-Combinator or getting on TV, anything that seems really hard to do: just make it so they can’t say no. In my application video, we did a whole bunch of silly things: my set was purple, I wore all purple. Just make a really good story, you have to learn how to talk to users and talk to investors- both sides of the market. I got really good at selling myself and selling therapy. I got casted after that, but I will say, it didn’t go great. You can see it online.
Product Manager, Moda Operandi & Founder, TechFestClub
About Mia: I’m a “slasher.” I do one thing “slash” another thing. My day job is a Product Manager for a luxury fashion retailer, Moda Operandi. My other job, which is more of a passion project for me, is that I run TechFestClub, which is a meetup for women in tech. The company I work for is a startup, four years old, and 99% women. Working in a startup founded by women and run by women is really exciting and interesting. And then also, on the side, empowering other women to take that first step into tech or to continue their education in tech and doing it in a manageable way with morning meetups and outreach and community work and things like that is sort of my passion.
My Superpower: My superpower would be a truth serum sort of a thing, so that anyone I’m talking to I could flip a switch in my mind and they would have to tell me the truth about whatever it is that they’re saying, so there’s no nuance and there’s no pretense in the conversation.
How General Assembly bootcamp helped build a new Product team: I did the General Assembly course for product management. I was in a unique situation because I was on a product team, which was a new team to this big company that didn’t understand what product was and didn’t understand it’s function. I actually did the bootcamp with three of our team members and our boss just so that we could adopt a cohesive vocabulary and understanding of what our team was going to be doing and then be ambassadors for our own team outward to the company. Personally, it was really helpful because it gave our team a drum to march to. It gave us a foundational understanding of what we should be doing.
On utilizing a bootcamp's alumni network: I have been hosting all the TechFestClub meetups at General Assembly, and the reason I’ve been able to do that is I have the connections through the General Assembly alumni network. They were very willing to take a chance on anyone who came out of one of their programs. That network that you gain after taking those classes and the people you meet from the class or in the broader network from bootcamps like Codify or Startup Institute. All of that stuff helps you build your network within the community anyway, and so whatever it is that you do next, they’re going to support you in that.
On transitioning to a startup from a large corporation: The biggest thing is understanding the culture and being an easy person to work with. The company’s mission isn’t going to be static. The better you understand the mission of that moment, the better you can adapt and provide your skillset and change the hat you’re wearing in that moment to adapt to your surroundings. Be easy to get along with and not being high maintenance, and bring those skills to the table.
People Ops for yPlan
About Jess: I’m going to steal the term “slasher” from Mia because that’s really fun. I started in the startup space in 2011 with Airbnb; I wanted to travel the world and they were remote and that was awesome. I started there and I met an incredible group of people and it led me into finding my mentor, which is greatly important when you’re in this space; finding a mentor that you can really jive with who’s going to be open and transparent with you. Anyway, I started consulting with a company called StoreFront and helping them with their growth plans in New York City and then YPlan found me. I was the first US employee at YPlan and I took on so many different roles, kind of like a Swiss Army Knife. I was their photo editor, I ran their business operations, I lead their human resources payroll and benefits and now I’m starting my own company. Fun fact, I’m kind of a street gold junkie, I love hunting random finds and flipping those on Craigslist.
My Superpower: Teleporting, so I could go to the tropics whenever I want.
What skills do you need to get into a startup? When you’re making a career change or entering the startup space for the first time, confidence is a huge part of it. Be super passionate, do your research on the company, understand what their mission is because you’re building a business with them. You’re not just an employee at a startup. You’re owning it and you’re part of their story. It’s huge to understand that, and to be really excited and motivated by that. Think about how to spin your past experiences in a creative way. Market yourself! There are so many people that say, “I really like to do project management, but I’ve never been a project manager.” Well, I can tell you, you’ve managed projects in the past, and there are things that you’ve done that you can parlay into a future setting for yourself. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit and then just be you and be kind and really show your interest. I think that’s really what founders and hiring managers want to see.
CEO of Lover.ly
About Kellee: I’m the founder and CEO of Lover.ly, a wedding planning site and app. We help brides find ideas, attire, and things to buy for their wedding. As of three weeks ago, we just launched our first eight bridal collections- bridesmaids’ dresses, little white dresses, decor, stationery, jewelry, everything for your wedding. Fun fact, I am one of five kids, and four of the five of us are entrepreneurs.
My Superpower: If I had a superpower, it would also be to teleport because all of my family is in LA. Also, to not be late to meetings, which I tend to have a problem with because I overcommit a little bit.
How did you find mentors in tech? When I first started working on Lover.ly, I had just moved to New York. I literally hit reset on my life. I would come to events like this one and talk to anyone and everyone. I told everyone I was starting a company and it was going to change the wedding industry and I kind of faked it until I guess I’ve made it. My first mentors were just my peers; people who were a couple months ahead of me, and anyone who would go to coffee with me and give me feedback. I started stalking gracefully, other entrepreneurs and former CEOs and investors who would give me feedback on my idea. Everyone gives you a lot of advice, but the things that I kept hearing over and over again resonated with me. Those original mentors ended up being my seed investors for the first $500,000 that I raised. Now it’s evolved, and seven months ago I hired my mentor to be the president of my company.
The skills you need to get started in tech: We’re hiring right now for designers, engineers, and merchandisers, so I’m going through this right now. Really, what we look at is the intersection of your interest and your skillset. What are you passionate about? What gets you excited every single day? And then, what are you good at? I don’t have job descriptions broken out because it’s really about the person that you bring in and how they are going to adapt into your organization. For example, I have a girl who started doing ad operations and now she’s running our e-commerce merchandising, and it’s just because she really liked fashion. She never thought she’d apply for that job, but she was good at it, and she gravitated towards it. In a startup, you’re looking for people who are passionate, but also who are very adaptable because shit changes really fast. You have to be really adaptable and you have to be likable. You have to treat people with respect and be nice. In the four years at Lover.ly, we’ve transitioned brilliant, brilliant engineers out of the organization just because they weren’t nice and they didn’t treat people with respect. I didn’t give up my high paying job to work with a bunch of jerks.
What are the traits that startups look for in an applicant?
Diane: We did a big research project and asked a couple hundred executives to tell us about the person in their company that they would absolutely like to clone and who do you wish that you had never hired? Here are the six things that came out of that:
- Somebody who doesn’t freak out when things are ambiguous and stressful. Who can be cool as a cucumber when the shit hits the fan? If you need a job description, forget it. If you can’t work without structure, then you’re probably not made to work at a startup.
- Somebody who is a learner and has thick skin, so you can handle feedback.
- The third trait is passion.
- The fourth trait is just grit. Staying until midnight and figuring this out because you’re just that determined. I think part of that grit is just not getting bogged down in process. The ability to take action, to take a small step even when you’re not really sure what to do.
- The fifth trait is collaboration, being able to work with other people.
- The last one is putting the company and the mission before yourself.
I currently work in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods). For those of us who that tech is our passion, what’s the best way to make the pitch when were coming from a non-technical background?
Kellee: At Lover.ly, we were a completely digital company and now we’re starting to sell products. Nobody in our organization knows anything about supply chain, and we actually are looking for experience in CPG. Do your research on companies that are either in transition or potentially could use your skillset. When you apply, show that in the cover letter. If someone does the research, and actually says, “Hi, I’m a human. This is how I think I can help your organization. I would love to come and talk to you about it.” That person always gets a meeting because they humanize themselves. They tell you that they care about your company and they have ideas for how to leverage their skillsets. A lot of people say it’s a numbers game, but I’ve had someone walk in who I wasn’t even hiring for and before she left I asked her, “Can you start on Monday? I need someone to run our office.” It’s just about letting people know, and when you’re working with a cover letter or 150 characters on LinkedIn, you’ve got to get creative in how you can quickly give them, “This is who I am. This is what I can do. I love your company. I’d love to meet you.”
Diane: I want to give you some data on that. I just posted a job for Head of Marketing on LinkedIn. Within 48 hours, I had 300 profiles. Out of the 300, 2 people said, “Look, I think my background is a fit, but I just want you to know, I love your company. I’ve been following you, here are the top 42 things that I love.” How can you resist that? How can you resist somebody who loves your company instead of loves themselves?
I’m a developer at a digital health company. We are a small startup, but we are growing. Mia, you talked a little bit about scaling your team- we’re also trying to figure out what our environment should be like in our office, and simultaneously hiring really fast. What advice can you give?
Mia: When I was at Ann Taylor, which is a much bigger company than I’m at now, we created a mission statement for what we wanted to do internally and then we had our own guiding principles for how we wanted to present the product team to the rest of the company. Through that thought work, we thought about: “What do we care about? What do we like doing? How do we want to present ourselves to the company? What do we want our relationship with the tech team to be? What do we want our relationship with the business teams to be? What do we want our relationship with finance and CRM to be?” Establishing that allowed us to also establish the culture.
We also just became really good friends and the culture came out of our friendship. The people that I worked with at Ann Taylor are my best friends. I see them all the time. I don’t know that it’s necessarily highlighted in talks like these when you’re thinking about your career, but having good friends at work is something that has always made work fun for me. It makes your culture a more fun culture.
Have a mission statement, but also put in the effort. Even if you’re tired and all of your coworkers are going for drinks, just go. Just go for one drink. It’s worth it. You’ll bond just in that half an hour and that’s important as well.
Jessica: I would upvote that 110%. That’s excellent advice. Create that mission statement. It’s so key. Writing it down is everything. You’ve codified it and can pass it on to someone else. They can absorb it and then it grows that way.
Bea: And everyone on the team can recite the mission statement, so you can sell it that way and pass it on.
Diane: I also think you need to figure out what your values are, meaning what do we do to get to the point where we’re successful? What really matters around here? How do we want to treat each other? How do we want to make decisions? What do we actually all share in common? And then you can hire for great values that are consistent with what you’re looking for. You can train people on the rest.
I’m curious what you are reading. How do you stay up to date in the tech community?
Kellee: When I first started, I knew nothing about technology or fundraising. I started reading blogs:
- Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table
- Fred Wilson’s AVC. AVC has MBA Mondays, a whole series about starting companies.
- Twitter specifically for news- I follow people that I respect and I like and I see what they’re tweeting and what they’re sharing. I have them curate my reading list. Following really smart people on Twitter that you like whether it’s CEOs or engineers or designers or investors and seeing what they’re talking about and what they’re sharing.
- A lot of the big media companies glamorize and glorify startups, but they don’t talk about the nitty gritty of how hard it is. So Quora or blogs tend to be a little bit more honest and real.
Jessica: I also set Google Alerts for any company or investor series that I’m following. Set alerts for yourself so that you get pinged whenever there’s breaking news.
Mia: Because I work in the eCommerce side of fashion, I can speak to a lot of fashion resources. The ones that I read most religiously are:
- The Business of Fashion
- shop.org is really good, especially for the tech side because it’s all about eCommerce.
- Smashing Magazine has an eCommerce section
- Broadsheet, which is a women-in-leadership newsletter. I’m a big believer in newsletters because the internet is messy and a newsletter is organized in your inbox for you.
Diane: Don’t get too narrow! You can be great at tech by not just reading tech. A friend of mine just launched a new app called BriefMe, which shows the top 10 articles in real time. You need to know what’s going on in the world or you’ll get tunnel vision.
Bea: I really like Seth Godin’s blog. It’s just so pure. It’s really solid advice. Another resource that I really like for everything (not just tech) is Quora.
This question is specifically for Bea and Diane, who mentioned that they’ve had failed startups in the past. Why did these startups fail and what lessons did you learn?
Bea: First, not having domain expertise. I’m a firm believer that money doesn’t make things happen, people make things happen. So you really have to know your space and that’s why my first company failed. The site was for stay-at-home moms and I realize now that if I was a stay-at-home mom I wouldn’t have wanted to do any of that shit. I would’ve taken a nap!
Another piece of advice: know your competitors. A lot of people like to say they don’t have any competitors and they’re “first to market.” Set a Google Alert for your own company, and a Google Alert for competitors. Not to compare yourself to them, but to help form your strategy and avoid being too similar.
Coming from big companies, we’re all talking about how it’s hard to be successful in a startup, but you have to really lean in to it. I think I’ve read that everybody who left Facebook and started their own company, their companies failed. It’s because they were insulated from all the nitty gritty, hard shit. They were expecting ping-pong tables and massages on Fridays. Make mistakes, make something people want, and talk to users. A lot of people get really soft and they don’t want to hear any criticism. I wouldn’t launch any new product without a focus group. Plan, but be ready to break things.
Diane: I raised $20 million for my first company- we were building collaborative software and everybody loved what we were doing and they were buying it, but no one was using it. We started running out of money and the internet bubble burst and September 11th happened. What happened is: a) I didn’t quit and b) I had a lucky day. My biggest success was a huge failure. I was sitting in Kansas City with a client from Wal-Mart who was about to launch our product. He said to me, “Diane, I love what you’re doing, but I’m just worried that none of my team is going to use the software. I think I might have a better idea.” He did have a better idea and it worked. Most successful companies pivot. Don’t give up when it’s not working the first time. I know a lot of startups that didn’t work because they just quit too early.
You’ve talked a lot about qualities you need to work at a startup, but these things are really hard to display in a resume, in a few words. Have you met people who you saw effectively display those qualities?
Jessica: You can say so much in a cover letter- a lot of personality can come through. Follow a company on Twitter, show up to their happy hours, make your face and your name known. Say little fun facts about yourself, so that when somebody is reviewing resumes remembers meeting you. It’s not comfortable at first, but drop that security blanket and just charge forward.
Kellee: It’s also really helpful if you can get a warm introduction if you know someone who works at the company. When there are 300 resumes coming in, having that connection instantly helps.
Bea: And introduce yourself before the company is hiring. When our COO, Emily, applied, I didn’t have time to hire her. Emily said, “Why don’t you just let me take a look at your HelpDesk.” When I woke up, there were labels everywhere and she had a great idea. Show them what it will be like to work with you. Everybody wants to work with someone who’s going to make things easier for them. Sometimes you don’t even know the problem that you have before that person gets there. As much as people hate on corporate 9 to 5 jobs, you still know these systems. Come in and put those systems in place immediately. Make people’s lives easier.
Kellee: I actually got most of my interviews through tweeting the founder of companies. Even if I didn’t get that job, I still got that meeting and got see if I wanted to work with them. Twitter is really powerful, so build your personal brand through Twitter and Facebook. Create your portfolio and, if you need to, join bootcamps like Startup Institute, Codify Academy, or General Assembly.
Thanks so much to the panelists and to Codify Academy for hosting and sharing this incredible advice with the Course Report community! Interested in learning more about Codify Academy? Check out their School Page on Course Report or the Codify Academy website here!
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