There’s a glut of coding bootcamps out there.
But startup Trilogy Education Services has a twist on the concept. The New York City-based company works with colleges and universities to run six-month web development/design, data analytics and UX/UI programs.
According to founder and CEO Dan Sommer, about three years ago, he looked around at the landscape of coding training programs and realized that universities–especially their continuing education or extension programs–were the perfect place for such training.
“My thought was, why is it that universities aren’t playing a bigger role in skills-based training, teaching people how to capitalize all those job opportunities,” says Sommer. “My belief is that universities are the solution to the workforce development gap.”
So, in 2015, he set about starting a company to make that happen.
The result, he says, benefits the local economies and employers in the schools’ surrounding area, as well as community residents, since they’re the target market for the programs, rather than current students. One particular class, according to Sommer, had a 70-year-old entrepreneur and a 24-year-old fisherman looking for a career change.
Earlier in the summer, the company announced a $30 million Series A round.
How it works: Trilogy taps local web developers and others with appropriate digital skills as instructors. Candidates need both technical ability and the capacity to teach difficult concepts. Then the final hiring decision is made by the university. (The business model is based on a revenue-share arrangement with universities). Schools also make any changes needed to meet their idiosyncratic procedures, like code of conduct policies.
Programs are six-months long and part-time, meeting Tuesday and Thursday evenings and 10 am-2pm on Saturdays, the better to fit with the lives of working adults. In addition, students have about 20 hours a week of homework and independent study. Plus there are career services, through which students refine their resumes and profiles, get interviewing help and meet with potential employers. Every participant also works on three portfolio projects that they can then show when they’re interviewing for jobs.
Now, there also is a 12-week full-time format at some universities.
As for the curriculum, it’s all about providing skills local employers want in job candidates. To that end, Trilogy and faculty meet with companies in the area, so they can tailor what they teach to those needs. “If they want Python, we teach Python,” says Sommer.
He describes his course work as a “living, breathing curriculum” that they’re continually modifying, based on feedback. (He says they’ve made 1,400 enhancements in all). University faculty also review the content and make changes when necessary. Plus every week, they poll students to find out what they feel about such matters as the level of academic support. They use that data to modify curriculum and services and learn when to add such steps as alerting students before a difficult project is coming up that might require extra help.
“We believe we’re giving universities a competitive edge,” says Sommer. “And if universities find success, we will benefit from that success.”