The key code

Le Wagon – Lebanon’s Top 20

Greg Demarque | Executive

This company is part of Executive’s Top 20 for 2015. Read more stories from our entrepreneurship in Lebanon section, for the latest analysis on the country’s ecosystem.

Le Wagon

Industry: Education

Product: Coding bootcamp

Product launch: 2015

Established: 2015

Employees: Recruitment on a project basis

When Malik El-Khoury returned to Lebanon in 2014, he was surprised at the lack of appropriate developers he could recruit for the tech startup he wished to establish. After spying a gap in the market, he decided in 2015 to licence the ‘Le Wagon’ program from the French coding school of the same name, which was formed in 2013 by Boris Paillard. Though the program itself is not an original startup, the idea of licensing and hosting such an event displays an entrepreneurial tour de force from El-Khoury, and is worthy of one of Executive’s top 20 places in this year’s startups in Lebanon.

The first coding session, which entailed a 9-week intensive coding bootcamp, offered participants a chance to become a fully fledged junior developer in a comparatively short period of time. The course is conducted in English, is limited to 25 participants per cycle (to ensure a strong coverage by tutors) and costs a subscriber $4,500 for the entire venture, but subsidies of up to $1,000 under certain conditions have been offered. There are no prerequisites to learning to code and thus the bootcamp appeals to anyone who wishes to become a developer even if they have no previous professional or higher educational experience. Participants must, however, complete the Ruby track on the open online educational resource, Code Academy, which gives them the basic building blocks and allows the students from ‘Le Wagon’ to hit the ground running from day one. In terms of speed of education, the students in the bootcamp learn at a much faster rate compared to similar university courses, as the volume of material covered in one day is enormous. El-Khoury invested his own capital to start and maintain the first session, but expects it to become profitable after several cycles, and insists that the focus should be on retaining talent in Lebanon.

While a debate exists over the quality of computer science education in Lebanon, there is no doubt that every startup and company which focuses on tech is in need of developers, and ones which have skills that do not create back end development confusion, or ‘spaghetti’ code. Bootcamps which target this niche in the education sector will surely increase in demand, and the licensed program offers employment as bootcamp teachers to local strong programmers, as four of the tutors of El-Khoury’s first cycle were Lebanese. After the successful completion of the first cycle, ‘Le Wagon’ plans to launch its next session on April 11, 2016.

 

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