Codecademy, Helping Millions of Learners Around the World
As society continues to expand digitally, there is an increasing need to understand and learn important digital skills. Codecademy offers just that– a way to gain important skills, build things, and gain constant feedback. Codecademy can complement a four year education and also fill in necessary educational gaps that may be needed to pursue certain careers. Excited to learn just what sets Codecademy apart from other online courses and schooling, I had the opportunity to ask Zach Sims, cofounder of Codecademy some questions. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
How did you enter your field and begin as an entrepreneur?
I started Codecademy with my cofounder, Ryan Bubinski, when I was a junior in college at Columbia University. We both saw a need for an education that reacted to the labor market and the skills it sought. Then, and even now, we thought that the most relevant skill for people to learn was programming. So, we created Codecademy, a site that, at the time, we billed as the “easiest way to learn to code.”
What is your current position and can you please describe what your role entails?
I’m the cofounder and CEO of Codecademy. As Fred Wilson has said, the job of a CEO is to 1) set the overall vision and strategy for the company, 2) recruit and retain great talent, 3) make sure there’s always money in the bank.In the photo: Codeacademy Meetup
What was the initial idea behind the company? Have you pivoted from this or does the original idea still remain?
Our idea has remained the same. We’d like to create a way for anyone, anywhere to learn the skills they need to find a job.
Building and scaling a business is no simple feat. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in building your business?
When we first started, many people told us that people weren’t interested in learning to code. At the time, there were just over 200,000 programmers in the space. We stayed steadfast in our conviction and launched a product to prove those people wrong. Now, with more than 25 million people that have taken lessons on Codecademy, we think we’ve shown that the market for programming is much larger than anyone anticipated.In the photo: Codeacademy Meetup
What makes you unique from your competitors?
We think that Codecademy provides education for the learner of today – it’s bite-size, interactive, and fun. It also provides relevant skills that are immediately transferable to a job.
What entrepreneurs do you consider as your role model or inspiration and how have they impacted your career?
I think there are plenty of great entrepreneurs, but I am consistently impressed by Mike Bloomberg. He created a business without much outside capital, scaled it to something worth tens of billions of dollars, and then devoted his time and attention to running one of the greatest cities on earth. Now, he’s back running Bloomberg just as deftly as before.In the photo: Codeacademy Meetup
If your company were given one billion dollars, how would you spend it?
We focus on creating free education for millions of people around the world. With $1 billion, we’d be able to do that faster – creating more courses and subsidizing even more content and connections for our learners.
What is your advice for future entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Just get started! Oftentimes, people think of many reasons why something won’t work instead of reasons why it will. For us, we had to listen to the voice in our heads instead of paying attention to the advice of others. If you truly believe in something, you should give it a shot and see what feedback you get.