Can you teach someone to code well enough to do it for a living in just 12 weeks?
NYC’s Flatiron School thinks so — and with around 98% of their students finding paid development gigs after the program, they might just be right. They’ve just raised $5.5M to keep the ball rolling.
Like many a “bootcamp”-style course that has sprung up in the last 3 or 4 years, the Flatiron School (named after the Flatiron Building, one of NYC’s first skyscrapers) is an intense 3-month training session meant to turn people who’ve never written a line of code into professional programmers.
Before day one of class even starts, students must do around 150 hours of pre-work. Once class starts, you’re there from 9 AM to 6PM, Monday through Friday.
In the past year and half, The Flatiron School has seen just 250 full-time students grace its halls (including current students). That’s about the number of students you might find sitting in a single lecture at a big university.
Their enrollment numbers aren’t small for lack of interest, though. According to the school’s founder, Flatiron only accepts around 10% of those who apply.
So why raise? If they’re only accepting 10% of those who apply, why not just… accept more students?
“The reason we raised money,” says Flatiron President Adam Enbar, “… well, it may sound crazy. Where most companies raise money in order to hit the gas pedal, we wanted to raise so we could take it slow. We realized there are two ways to grow it: one of them is by enrollment – more and more students, and more and more tuition. We certainly had the opportunity to do that, but we really want to be maniacal about quality. So we raised.”
As with all things in life, though, selectivity comes with a price tag. Flatiron currently offers two courses: one for iOS, and one for Ruby. Both are 12 weeks long, and each costs $12,000 — or a thousand bucks per week. If a student accepts a job offer through Flatiron’s job placement program, though, $4,000 of their tuition is refunded (partly because most of the employers hiring out of the program pay Flatiron a finder’s fee for each hire.) — and, according to the school, everyone they place in a job sees a starting salary of at least $70,000.
To think that only people who can afford a $12,000 bootcamp would be good coders, though, is absurd. As such, Flatiron partnered up with New York City for a fellowship program that would fully cover the costs of admission for selected students who make less than $50,000 per year. So far, 26 of Flatiron’s ~150 alumni came to the school by this path.
Getting a job is one thing — but are the coders they loose unto the world good enough to keep their jobs?
“No one has been let go yet,” says Adam. “We pay really close attention to that.”
This round, lead by CRV and Matrix Partners and backed by Box Group, is Flatiron’s first outside investment to date.