We’re excited today to announce our $6M Series A round led by Shasta Ventures. It’s been an incredible journey since we started this company in 2011, and I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the path we traveled to get here.
I met my cofounder Dave Paola at UIUC where we both studied computer science, but programming was never more than school work to me until I took a part-time job at a local startup called merge.fm. With the founders as my mentors, I learned about craftsmanship in software development. And within the culture of developers and designers, there was a profound idea that would eventually manifest itself in Bloc.
If you ask any good developer or designer, their job is more than just a job to them. It’s their craft and their passion, and it’s clear that the fulfillment they get from what they do extends far beyond their paycheck. The greatest businesses stand for something more than just an opportunity to make money, and where we plant our flag at Bloc is in this idea of enabling an entire work force to find and cultivate fulfilling careers through a modernized education. In the wake of a jobless economic recovery and a generation burdened by unprecedented student debt, unemployment, and underemployment, Bloc offers ambitious and driven professionals with the experiences they need to find meaningful careers as developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and makers.
During the process of finding the right partner for our Series A, we were once asked: “Your competitors are brilliant computer scientists and professors at Ivy League universities, how do you go up against them?” I answered that this “shortcoming” is also our secret weapon; Bloc is developer education created by developers and you only have to ask one of our amazing mentors or students to see that the distinction is compelling.
Guided by those beliefs and armed with investment capital from a great firm like Shasta that shares our values, we’re ready to embark on the next part of our journey. Over the last year, we’ve welcomed 4x more students in over 20 countries across the world. With this funding, we’ll be going deeper with our first five online bootcamps by offering job prep and job placement services, as well as launching more courses to serve the gap in continued education for developers and designers.
We’d like to thank the community of students, mentors, and other supporters we’ve had along the way, and in particular our investor Michael Dearing whose guidance and faith has been pivotal in Bloc’s success. We’re excited at the opportunity we have in front of us to build an enduring institution with a genuinely positive impact on the world.
Bootcamps are designed to prepare you for a new job as a developer, but admission into many bootcamps, and success during their programs, can depend heavily on how much you’ve learned before applying. With many code schools and dev bootcamps like Hack Reactor and Flatiron School boasting acceptance rates as low as 3%, learning on your own has become crucial to gaining admission. For students who want to start learning on their own, but aren’t sure how to get started, we asked a few of our Course Directors (who manage our online developer and design bootcamp programs), to review the admissions criteria and pre-work required at a sampling of bootcamps, and pick the 10 best tutorials to prepare you.
If you are still on the fence about enrolling in a bootcamp, this list will help you too! These tutorials will give you a taste of what programming is like and allow you to work at your own pace.
Meet the Experts
Meet Aaron – iOS Dev Course Director
Aaron has been developing web and native apps for iOS since iPhone launched in 2007. Prior to Bloc, Aaron was an iOS Developer at Sprout Social. He has also worked at Apple and deck5 Software.
Meet Joe – Frontend Web Dev Course Director
Prior to becoming the Course Director for Bloc’s Frontend Web Development course, Joe was a developer at Lapel and ESM Group. Joe developed the Frontend curriculum and recruits, trains and manages mentors.
Meet Mike – Full Stack Curriculum Creator
Before joining the Bloc team, Mike worked at PWC and IBM as a software consultant. In addition, he founded Virtus Consulting Group. Mike now works as Bloc’s Editor-in-Chief, and wrote Bloc’s Full Stack Web Development curriculum.
Here at Bloc we understand that unemployment rates for military veterans are at an all time high, which is why we are launching a developer bootcamp program for veterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bloc would like to help by providing U.S. veterans the tools and resources needed to launch successful careers in tech. That’s why we have created the Bloc Veterans Program, which will award ten active and/or retired U.S. military personnel a $5,000 scholarship toward any of Bloc’s five online developer and design bootcamps. The scholarship is funded collaboratively by Bloc and its mentors, who have volunteered to donate their time to training veterans.
“It’s all about how much you put into it. No matter what it is.”
Meet Kervins Valcourt, an iOS Grad
After graduating with a degree in mathematics and applied computer science Kervins knew he needed additional skills to make his goals as an entrepreneur come true. His goals when he started were to gain the skills to land a developer job, and to get started building his app.
Having completed his apprenticeship, Kervins now splits his time between between interviewing and working on new projects and ideas. He was excited to finish the curriculum a week and a half early, and was able to use the extra time with his mentor to get advice and support on another project.
What was the best part of working with a mentor?
“Stan’s the man!”
Kervins really appreciated the motivation of having a dedicated mentor, as well as the opportunity to have instructions explained in “plain English” when the written directions weren’t making sense. Stan helped him stay on track and really maximize the learning experience.
What advice would you give a new apprentice, or a student considering Bloc?
“It’s ll about how much you put into it. No matter what it is […] there’s nothing more valuable than putting in the time so it becomes second nature.”
Was Bloc worth it?
“Definitely. Without a doubt.”
A prospective student recently asked me “Should I enroll in a dev bootcamp over the holidays?” As we head into winter, people start thinking about traveling home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending time with loved ones, or perhaps getting away and finding someplace warm. At the same time, we’re ambitious folks who want to invest in our future, and for some, the down-time at work creates a great opportunity to start getting serious about developing technical skills. If you’ve been thinking about enrolling a developer bootcamp, but aren’t sure how to tackle the holidays, we have the solution.
As an online bootcamp, we can do things in-person bootcamps can’t. Like give every student an optional two week winter break, so you can take some time off and then finish the program in January.
“I’m just loving Bloc, from my amazing mentor, to the staff and especially Aaron who has been helping me so much. The website is awesome, really a delight to use.”
Meet Victor Yudi Tomo, an iOS Development Apprentice
Victor is a Brazilian college student who came to Bloc’s iOS apprenticeship looking to grow his technical chops and ultimately make himself more employable.
Once he had the fundamentals of his apprenticeship behind him, Victor started applying for jobs. During an interview with a tech hub he was given the take home project of building an RSS reader app. He was hired and dove straight in to his first project, building Sapiens. Sapiens is a custom logo generator that allows each member of the tech hub to design their own unique employee badge for the space.
We’re super proud of the work Victor has done so far, and can’t wait to see what he’ll build next!
Find Victor on Twitter
Find Victor on GitHub
Ricky has been tutoring in various subjects for the past 7 years. Prior to mentoring for Bloc’s iOS Dev program, Ricky was a Computer Science student then at Cornell University’s College of Engineering. He recruited more than twenty people to make it into a platform, and they called it ‘Wii but for Smart Phones’ (http://playsplat.com). This involved building several games on top of the platform. He mentored a good number of my teammates in iOS and Android, and some of my mentees have gone to develop for Amazon, Microsoft, and Zynga and built their own apps. My most recent app is an iPhone app that lets you and your friends see and join each others’ plans.
Over the course of your career, working on dozens of projects, which one was your favorite and why?
I ran a company called Splat. Splat was a small device that plugs into your phone and lets you play Wii- styled games with your friends, like real life Call of Duty, wizardry games, and Hot Potato. I grew a lot from the experience, and the opportunity for me to learn was boundless.
What career advice would you give to someone who is learning to code and wants to become a professional developer?
Do what you love. Life is too short to do otherwise. If you work hard and have the right mentors, there should be no concern about getting the job you want.
We like to describe code as pretty or ugly, clean or complicated, clever or cryptic. Those aren’t useful epithets: they describe emotions about code rather than describing code itself. It’s impossible for beginners to understand that kind of language. And it gives us the impression that we understand what we are saying.
When pushed to justify our thoughts about a piece of code, we like to talk about readability. So, what makes code readable? Can the code be understood easily? Can I hold large chunks of it in my head at any given time? How quickly can I triangulate a bug? Readability speaks to all of these questions and nobody cares, if you can’t read it.
1 Million More Jobs Than Candidates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 there were over 900,000 software developer jobs posted, with an expected increase of 30% by 2020. There’s also the often-cited analysis from Code.org that underscored the windening gap between supply and demand (the yellow wedge below).
Want an immersive program without sacrificing your job? Bloc is the world’s largest online iOS bootcamp, and has helped hundreds of grads launch new careers as developers. In this Insider’s Guide, we’ll introduce you to Bloc’s iOS course director, who will detail Bloc’s syllabus, which includes Swift, Objective-C, the iOS SDK, 2D gaming using SpriteKit, and mobile backend development using Parse. Next, we’ll give you a first-hand account of the Bloc program experience from a recent student and his mentor. In the Info Session recording, Course Director Aaron Brager goes into great detail about how Bloc’s online bootcamp works, and what exactly you’ll learn in the iOS Course Syllabus Aaron has developed.