Above: Winners of the third Wyncode pitch showcase say they’re excited to be alumni of the nine-week code bootcamp founded by Juha Mikkola (left) and Johanna Mikkola (right). Raymond Braaf and Todd Metheny pitched Interque, a technical Q&A crowdsourcing platform, to a crowd of 200. Photo by Jenna Buehler.
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The pitch day introduced 21 new coders to the local tech community, the third class to complete the program. Since the launch of the nine-week code curriculum in May, the school has connected 96 percent of its graduates — who had no previous coding experience — with jobs in the region’s growing tech scene.
Co-founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola said that because of the success of their 51 graduates and the receptiveness of local hiring partners they plan to expand Wyncode Academy to Fort Lauderdale in 2015.
“We’re excited to showcase Wyncode talent and also celebrate how far our coders have come in such a short time,” Johanna Mikkola said. “There are only five seats remaining for our Jan. 15 Wyncode class, and we couldn’t be more eager to see this community and its alumni association grow at this rate.”
The academy is a $10,000 training program open to people who want to pursue a career in Web development, but don’t know where to begin or how to code. Participants spend nine weeks learning the basics of coding languages such as HTML and CSS. After the first seven weeks, coders are challenged to launch their own project. They begin by identifying a problem, then use their new skills to offer an online or mobile solution. Students can choose to partner with other participants or work on a project independently.
The final two weeks of the curriculum are then tailored suit the technical needs required by their diverse final projects. The students explore how to integrate more advanced applications and programming interfaces offered by groups such as RubyMotion and Markdown into their own code. This allows participants to add features such as voting, mapping, or gamification to their project.
Ed Toro, a Miami native and MIT graduate, opened the showcase by congratulating the students — of all ages and backgrounds — on far they have come in the program. Toro developed the Wyncode curriculum and served as a one-on-one mentor to the aspiring tech professionals.
“These students have invested in themselves and have proved that they they have drive and motivation,” Toro said. “Miami doesn’t have any shortage of hustlers; it’s about to become clear today that these are the kinds of people you should be hiring for your company.”
The spectrum of ideas pitched on Thursday included everything from interior design and pet adoption, to nutrition and fantasy sports. Showcase judges included four of the more than 100 Wyncode hiring partners in Miami. Tom Lackner, chief technocrat of Pop.co; self-proclaimed developer “evangelist” Zach Weiner; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of LaunchCode and Square; and Tobias Franoszek, CTO of Kipu Systems, offered advice to the 16 Wyncode presenters looking to develop their projects.
As part of the question-and-answer session with the panel, Wyncoders revealed major challenges and setbacks in their projects and invited investors and entrepreneurs alike to discuss opportunities for collaboration.
The night’s winning pitch was made by Raymond Braaf and Todd Metheny who were also the first Wyncoders to write highly reusable code to be crowdsourced and shared with the global tech community. For their reward, the two coders received $1,000.
Their winning pitch was for a platform called Interque, a program that crowdsources technical questions and answers and makes it easier to share solutions.
“We had a great team synergy going on and had to make a lot of difficult decisions along the way,” Braaf said. “As part of this program, I feel empowered, and this is just the beginning of the journey. Keep on coding because at this rate [South Florida] will probably be Silicon Valley.”
For South Florida residents looking to learn more about the academy or how to code, Wyncode offers an introductory code meetup twice each month at The Lab Miami. Johanna Mikkola said there are five spots left in the next Wyncode code class and that people of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.