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Product: Coding classes
Product launch: 2014
Employees: Recruitment on project basis
Founders: Nour Atrissi and Ziad Alameh
Teens Who Code is the brainchild of co-founders Nour Atrissi and Ziad Alameh, who met in AltCity and decided to form a startup in October 2014 dedicated to teaching young adults how to computer program in different languages in 2014. Aimed at improving computer literacy amongst teenagers, Teens Who Code offers courses and private sessions to individuals in a number of different areas, from web development and Raspberry Pi classes, to android and iOS development. Their reasoning for targeting the youth is that programming skills are, like a language, often absorbed faster by a younger mind and can subsequently shape future career paths. Their board of advisors also boasts familiar faces, such as David Munir Nabti, CEO of AltCity, and Nicolas Sehnaoui, former minister of telecommunications.
Their business model is currently centered around developing curriculum for bootcamps – 10 week programs which Atrissi explains are in direct response to market demand – which will be rolled out in February, and which she feels enable students to improve in the most efficient manner. In addition, next year they will start targeting schools and offering after school classes in addition to separate bootcamps. A pull factor included on their website is the offer of a free hour-long coding session for new sign-ups with Alameh. Several of their graduates go on to receive job offers, and Atrissi explains that the AUB undergraduate who manages the TEDxAUB website graduated from their program. Teens Who Code has been self-financed over the past year, and has collaborated with AltCity to use their office space when offering large classes. Teens Who Code will seek external funding over the course of 2016 in a bid to expand across local and regional markets, while approaching schools to advertise and advocate their project in an educational setting. Having physical teachers on the ground encourages and pressurizes students to complete their programs, which gives Teens Who Code a competitive edge over massive open online courses (MOOCs) run by educational giants like Coursera, which have a four percent completion rate compared to Teens Who Code’s 90 percent completion rate. Aside from online platforms, Atrissi stresses that there are no competitors who specifically teach coding to teenagers in Lebanon.
Atrissi and Alameh are looking to recruit coding teachers for their different courses, which retail at $250 for a two month bi-weekly iOS development course and set a limit of 10-12 students per class. While there are no limitations on previous experience, Teens Who Code try to filter students into classes according to their coding history. As the model for her startup is scalable to the entire region; offering licences of the curriculum and content to other cities within the Arab world is her current expansion plan, which she claims avoids the costs of having their own physical facilities and tutors. Teens Who Code also identifies quality control as a key element of their expansion plan, with key deliverables for each student within their courses. Although Atrissi does not reveal exact financial details, the project is currently self-funded and equity is equally split between her and Alameh. Immediate future plans will be concentrated in Lebanon before they seek external investment of $50,000 to roll the model out to the wider region.