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How CodeSpeak Labs Got Started: Our Origin Story

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In 2015, I was living in New York City running a nonprofit tech startup. We were growing our tech team, offering a competitive salary plus the huge benefit of working for a startup with an amazing social mission (helping teens in crisis).

Yet, it was ridiculously hard to recruit developers.

The tech sector is one of the fastest-growing fields, and there aren’t nearly enough people with these skills. (Not to mention of those who do have the skills, the pool has a huge diversity problem).

It was also around that time that I became a mom. I had worked in education previously, and it’s always been a passion of mine, but as a mom, the need to update our education system came into an even sharper, personal focus. I wanted my kids, and all kids, to grow up with the ability to shape the technology-driven world that they’re growing up in; to be creators and leaders and not passive consumers.

I had a bunch of different ideas for how to go about solving this problem, and—in Lean Startup fashion—I wanted to test it.

We partnered with Florentine, an awesome community center in downtown Chinatown, to start our first class: a Saturday morning session for about 10 kids.

The first day we started, I saw magic. It was so obvious how engaged the students were, and I knew immediately we were onto something. Programming sets up kids for top careers, but more importantly, it gives them a magical power, and I decided to start CodeSpeak Labs to bring that magic to as many kids as possible.