The multi-level landscape of programs teaching non-technical people to become software developers has been a proving ground for a new model of financing: income share agreements (ISAs). With an ISA, students avoid paying tuition upfront or taking out private loans, instead of paying a percentage of their income for a time after graduation after they are earning a minimum income.
The model aligns education providers with students' career outcomes, and one startup is staking a claim to being the leader in the space; Kenzie Academy, a year-long Indianapolis physical education campus – and a student body that's 66 percent online ̵
Kenzie co-founder and CEO Chok Ooi says that Kenzie's mission is the goal that he'll graduate from university. " This is one of the best ways to get a job done in Silicon Valley or New York. "
I interviewed Ooi to understand how Kenzie differentiates itself from competitors, how it has done its model to improve retention and job placement and how he expects the ISA market to evolve over the next couple of years. Here's the transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:
Eric Peckham: The landscape of software development training programs is crowded. Kenzie relative to others in the market?
Chok Ooi: My co-founder came from Galvanize, so first observed the proliferation of tech and coding boot camps. These are typically short-term, three-to-five month programs and they tend to serve people with college degrees. I would say that they are disrupting the masters' program space. We saw a major gap in programs that serve a much larger demographic of people who are much earlier in their development. People who never went to college, or did a little bit of college and dropped out, or just never had a professional work experience.
We have an opportunity to bring high-quality tech education to the American heartland that is 12 months in length.
We are not just teaching the technical skills, but elements of a traditional four-year college as well,
Compared to those other boot camps or training programs, Kenzie is targeting different job outcomes for his graduates?
We did the top five tech companies they wish to work for. None of the Silicon Valley companies made the list other than Salesforce. Indianapolis is the second largest Salesforce office outside of San Francisco. The DMI and Zylo that people in Silicon Valley do not hear about but are doing well in the Midwest. Their friends work there. They're a fabric of the community. Kenzie Academy co-founder and CEO Chok Ooi. ” width=”1000″ height=”750″ srcset=”https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg 2048w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg?resize=150,113 150w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg?resize=300,225 300w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg?resize=768,576 768w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg?resize=680,510 680w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Chok-headshot.jpg?resize=50,38 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px”/>
Kenzie Academy co-founder and CEO Chok Ooi ] How do you evaluate technical aptitude and critical thinking in the admissions process? What's that process look like, and how has it evolved?
Prior to founding Kenzie, I started a company nine years ago called AglityIO. The model for AgilityIO was similar to company like Andela. We were trying to solve the talent in the Bay area by recruiting and training people with the raw talent in Vietnam. Today, Google, Uber, NerdWallet, Meetup.com and 150 other tech companies.
As people are doing the on-line assessments, we collect them for the problem, what their different decision points are and things like that. Then as they get enrolled in Kenzie, we continue to collect attendance data, grades, and then placement data and use that to look at success and failure cases. We continually refine our assessment.
Are you seeing any particular pattern or cluster in the application you are accepting?