CodeBoxx, a San Francisco-based company that trains people how to be web, app and software developers in as little as 16 weeks, plans to move its headquarters to St. Petersburg within the next two months.
Nicolas Genest, the firm’s founder and CEO, confirmed the move in an interview with the Catalyst on Friday. He said the company has not yet secured office space but he and the rest of the executive team plan to base themselves in St. Pete.
“It’s happening and we’re really excited about it,” said Genest, speaking by phone from the company’s office in Quebec City. Because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, he’s temporarily unable to leave Canada but has been in talks with the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. about potential locations for CodeBoxx’s headquarters.
“I lived in California for six years and am going to miss it,” he said, “but I’ll be really happy to move to Florida. One of the reasons we picked St. Pete/Tampa is that a lot of companies in California are moving there. You guys are the new Austin. That’s how I see it, so I want to be ahead of the curve.”
CodeBoxx has already been recruiting locally for its latest cohort of 80 students, who began training on Jan. 11. Genest said seven people from the Tampa Bay area have signed up.
So how does CodeBoxx make money?
Graduates of the program who land a job with a CodeBoxx partner company or another outside company are invoiced for 20 percent of their starting gross annual salary. There’s also a good chance that graduates will be hired by CodeBoxx’s Digital Solutions division, Genest said, in which case they’re paid $25 per hour for a minimum of 46 weeks and invoiced for 20 percent of their gross annual salary. The 20 percent can be paid back in installments, though, Genest said.
“For two-thirds of our students,” he added, “we are the only option for them to take a shot at technology. All the other bootcamps out there, they’re not obsessed with accessibility the way we are.”
CodeBoxx normally emphasizes in-person instruction but has had to shift to a virtual learning environment because of the pandemic. As a result, Genest said, graduation rates have dropped but, at the same time, students who complete the program in a virtual environment are well prepared for the remote work that has become the new normal for so many companies.
“It’s been really tough,” Genest said. “The conversion rates from online versus on-premise have dropped, for sure, but for us, it’s a blessing because now we’re forcing students to work remotely, which prepares them for the new world. We are able to have them acquire the skills, the discipline, the grit that they needed.”
As soon as CodeBoxx can resume in-person education, Genest said, it plans to open a training center in St. Pete as well as Philadelphia.