Learning to code is seen more and more as an essential skill now and in the future. Academia de Código (Code Academy) is a Lisbon startup doing its best to provide this skill. I talked with João Magalhães, CEO, to find out a bit more about their plans.
How did the idea to build a code academy in Lisbon come about?
We are living a difficult moment in Portugal, there’s lot’s of unemployment. People that studied and are qualified have no job opportunities in their area. At the same time, there’s a wild need for software developers. Putting together this with the rise of coding bootcamps worldwide, we decided to start a coding academy course for unemployed people to get them a job in a market in need. This is our short term fix, for the long term we are teaching code to kids at school from primary to pre university learning. This way, we believe, we are helping our country to become more competitive and with a more prepared workforce.
How does learning to code from a young age make a difference?
It’s all about logic and problem solving. Pick a big problem, cut it into slices and solve them one at the time. It’s great for all kinds of work that you will have to face during your lifetime. That and helping kids to understand better mathematics, teaching them how to understand and formulate algorithms. This ability will help kids revolutionise the way we do things today, help them be better at what they do, more creative and efficient.
You also focus on teaching the young unemployed. How confident are you that they’ll find a job after their time with you?
Our first code bootcamp is going to finish in December and we already have placement for all our Code Cadets, that’s a great stat. With volume it will be very difficult to maintain this kind of success, but we are confident that we will be over 85%-90% successful placements on our courses. Right now in Portugal alone, there’s a need for 10.000 developers.
How is the training going so far?
It’s really great to see the smile in our code cadets face everyday. They are getting to the last third of the course and they are already programming their own games and little programs. The user has turned into the creator. We have great people coming to do workshops and helping our code cadets to get ready to the real world. We are 100% focused on training people to be ready for work.
Are there plans to expand to other cities?
Yes, we want to grow into all major cities in Portugal and internationally.
How does the Portuguese startup scene compare with the rest of Europe?
It’s really hot right now, but I believe it will get hotter :). Great concepts and entrepreneurs everywhere. We are sophisticated and friendly, we are great value for money and we offer great quality of life. We are still learning how to do it, but that’s the process of any startup! The Web Summit coming to Lisbon is the best proof of what’s happening here. Watch out!
And how does the European startup scene compare to the USA?
USA is the mothership of Startups, they have a ferocious market, great experience in growing companies, top know-how and a great availability of money. Europe is trying hard to get there, but we have to try a bit harder, there’s too much regulation across the region which turns the market into a lot of small markets. Another problem is that we are more averse to risk in Europe because we come from an old continent. The crisis is changing this fast, business owners are trying to find new ways of growing their companies and for that, they will have to make money available to the young entrepreneurs. The help from the European Union is not enough, we need old entrepreneurs to help the young grow.
What other startup is on your radar and why?
I follow closely Uniplaces, where my dear friend Miguel Santo Amaro is one of the founders. They are growing a lot, full of very talented people. They have the ingredients of success, let’s see where they will get.