First Code Academy helps children as young as five understand the complexities of code. From learning the syntax to creating something they want to use, it’s a community that’s empowering the youth and taking a stand in a male-dominated field. Special programs are focused on helping young girls develop a passion for coding and create something wonderful.
Name: Michelle Sun
Company: First Code Academy
Headquarters: Hong Kong
Michelle Sun embarked on her journey to First Code Academy when she was working with a previous startup. She wanted to be able to communicate as effectively as possible, so she decided to learn code in order to provide specific instructions to her team of engineers. An A student all her life, Michelle thought that she would be able to study up from books. Unfortunately, most of the literature out there focuses too much on the syntax of code and leaves the reader on their own for actually creating or debugging a product. Michelle wasn’t the first to reach this roadblock.
As she became increasingly familiar with coding, Michelle launched First Code Academy as a side project. Targeted to pre-teen children (around the age of 12), the Academy focused on providing not just a syntax based learning experience, but one that gave them the skills to build something as well.
She never meant it for more than a side project, something to help Hong Kong’s youth. But when three of the best schools in Hong Kong reached out to her, she knew she had something much bigger than a minor project. Parents were requesting the courses for their younger children. More people wanted in. First Code Academy kept growing.
The Mindset of an Entrepreneur
Michelle was an entrepreneur before she launched First Code Academy, and she learned the most important lesson an entrepreneur can learn. You can’t be in it for yourself. Originally, she wanted to be an entrepreneur to help change the world. But, the real world doesn’t listen to what your company hopes to do.
“They won’t talk to you, let alone pay you, for something if it’s not useful.”
To be an entrepreneur, you can’t launch a startup just for the sake of it. You’ll need to create something that people want to use. And if people start reaching out in ways you weren’t intending (ie: the parents of five and six-year-olds looking to enroll their children), it might be a good idea to listen.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change the world…
A Social Impact
A good business doesn’t have to stop at making a profit. Entrepreneurs can focus their businesses on not just providing something useful, but in making the world better as they do so. Which is why First Code Academy makes a point to encourage young girls to sign up and develop a passion for coding.
There’s a huge lack of role models in the industry for young girls. Most ‘superstars’ are male, like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates of programming being male. For many girls, peer pressure and the desire to fit in can keep them away from what may be socially seen as a male interest. Preconceived notions over coding being a ‘boy thing’ can keep females who could be rockstar programmers from ever giving it a shot.
By getting girls into the Academy at a younger age, Michelle hopes to foster a love and a passion for coding. By the time their peers have learned these ideas of coding being only for boys, the Academy’s students will already have developed their interests in the industry. The next rockstar may only be years away, courtesy of First Code Academy.