CodeBoxx Technology, a Canadian company with a coding bootcamp and a digital workshop, is searching for a headquarters site in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
Establishing a local headquarters will expand opportunities for area companies to hire trained software coders, and also bring a $3 million ecommerce firm here.
The company considered more than a dozen U.S. cities before choosing Tampa-St. Pete, said Marc-Olivier Groleau, business development manager.
“Tampa is slowly but surely become the Austin, Texas of the east. We can see it as a tech hub,” Groleau said. He cited vibrant startup activity as well as tech firms that are moving here from other parts of the country.
Companies outside the tech sector that need skilled tech workers also are booming in the Tampa-St. Pete area. By 2021, more than 80 percent of tech jobs will be at insurance companies, financial firms and the like, he said.
Within a few months, CodeBoxx founder and CEO Nicolas Genest plans to relocate to the Tampa-St. Pete area, as well as move the company’s digital workshop from its current U.S. headquarters in Sausalito, California, Groleau said.
Genest launched CodeBoxx in 2018 and has established two bootcamp campuses, in Quebec City and in Montreal. Genest is a 20-year veteran of the technology industry, working for Microsoft in France and as chief technology officer at Silicon Valley companies The RealReal and ModCloth, which was acquired by Walmart.
Genest saw the need for an accelerated training program for coders and established that within the corporate environments in Silicon Valley, Groleau said. It was a great alternative to solving the labor shortage, but there were a few things he wanted to do differently. That led to the creation of CodeBoxx.
“One of the things he wanted to change was to incorporate soft skills development into a boot camp,” such as working in teams and meeting deadlines, Groleau said. Genest also wanted to keep the technology training up to date and make the program as accessible as possible.
CodeBoxx accepts everyone who registers for the 16-week training program with a guaranteed job at the end of the program. “Everyone gets a shot at trying,” Groleau said. “We even have a laptop loan program.”
Every participant must pay a $2,000 security deposit that is refundable upon completion of the program. But the format is not for everyone, Groleau said. If after two weeks a student decides not to continue, they get their deposit back.
About 75 percent of the students who start remain in the program. For them, the next 14 weeks replicate an on-the-job experience.
“Nicolas created a fictitious company called Rocket Elevators … Every Monday they submit a requirement document with a deliverable every Friday for 14 weeks. Sometimes it’s teamwork and sometimes it’s individual work,” Groleau said. “About 75 percent of the score is dedicated to the technical aspect, and soft skills represent about 25 percent of the weekly score that participants get. Here we’re talking about excellence in execution, always go the extra mile, keep a flexible and nimble mindset, communication, teamwork, leadership, reliability. That is why our program is transformational.”
Once they have a job, graduates receive an invoice equivalent to 20 percent of their first year’s salary. The company offers payment options, he said.
The program is intense, Groleau said. “You have to be committed to perform. The only barrier to entry is they need to be committed 100 percent for 50-60 hours a week for four months.”
About 75 percent of graduates have been hired by an external company, or one of CodeBoxx’ partner firms. Other graduates take jobs with the company’s digital workshop, an ecommerce company that does work for businesses across North America.
CodeBoxx is working with J.P. DuBuque, president and CEO of the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp., on potential sites. CodeBoxx expects to decide on a Tampa-St. Pete location by the end of 2020 and is targeting the opening of the new campus by May 2021.
The company is taking registrations now for its first local cohort, which will be online. Enrollment information is here.