Coding bootcamp sets sights on Philly

Philadelphia isn’t a city you’d expect to backdrop a tech boom like San Francisco or Seattle. There’s been great collaboration between the industry and city departments in the last decade, but the image of lanky guys in North Face vests and leather flip flops trekking down North Third Street is still a bit foreign juxtaposed against Philly’s mostly blue-collar population. That’s a notion Launch Academy is looking to change.

The immersive coding bootcamp, which launched in Boston in 2012, has its eyes set on expansion to Philadelphia. Applications will open at the end of this month for the inaugural class that commences early in the new year.

No prior coding experience is required for applicants, who will tackle several coding languages and individual and group projects over a 10-week, full-time curriculum. Tuition is about $15,000, and Boston graduates saw a 96 percent job placement rate. (The school has recently partnered with Skills Fund to offer tuition financing, too.)

Dan Pickett, who co-founded the unaccredited school, said a “huge talent drain”prompted the creation of Launch four years ago. He said while working as a consultant several years ago, he saw a shortage of developers plaguing Boston, a vacuum he sought to fill with Launch. That same situation has brought Pickett and fellow founder Evan Charles to Philadelphia.

“Our perspective is that there’s a larger, really international dilemma that is facing modern cities,” Pickett said. “We’re going to need two million software developers by 2020, but we are only projected to graduate 400,000.”

Pickett said that a lack of software or computer science education in high school and higher education is contributing to that shortage.

“For us, we see the need for a…non-traditional computer science education as a way to fuel economies of the future’s fastest growing cities,” Pickett added. “Like Boston, we see Philly as somewhere that hasn’t been the beneficiary of an accelerated learning program like [Launch Academy.]”

Many details are still not finalized, including Launch Academy’s location. Pickett wouldn’t divulge any names, but said the team is leaning toward renting a coworking space. And teachers will be local developers with a keen sense for the city’s needs.

“We really want to contribute to the solution,” Pickett added. “And we want to help stimulate interest and attraction to Philly as a destination for tomorrow’s technologies by feeding talent there.”

Philly has already done a lot of that work on its own. Data released last winter showed tech companies were taking up more office space in the city, and Philly companies raised nearly $85 million in venture capital over the course of just one year.

The application will go live on Launch Academy’s website by August 23. For more information on the school, check out the company’s Bootcamp Guide, which covers a program introduction and life after bootcamp.