Coding Invaders, an ed-tech platform, Co-Founded by Alexander Turilin and Alexander Eroshkin, entered the Indian market in 2021. Within a short span, Coding Invaders has become one of the leading providers of online professional education in Data Science, Data Analysis, Programming and Management in IT to students with no STEM/ tech or coding background. Mr.Alexander Turilin, Co-founder and CPO, Coding Invaders shares more insights on the same.
- Tell us about Coding Invaders. When did you start operations in India? How has been the journey so far?
Ans: We have been in the edtech business for many years. After finding success in Eastern Europe in the same space, we decided to expand our footprint to India. Our journey into this country has been very interesting. While we find a huge demographic dividend in the form of young, qualified graduates, we soon realized that unemployability was a serious issue and a lateral job shift was near impossible. We found that there is a market for professionals who want to move from other industries to IT but lack the knowledge or access to programs that could facilitate a domain shift. This is where we decided to step in and make IT knowledge accessible to all interested Indian learners.
We then went about researching for the right product and through various interventions by experts, we zeroed down on the most popular programs that we could offer. Hence, it is not surprising that when we had the right product, we had the formula for success. In a short span of time, we have grown 8 times, and our programs on Data Science, Data Analytics, Programming and Management to students/ professionals are very popular.
- What are the different career programs that you offer? How is the curriculum designed?
Ans: Our mission is to create 10 million job ready Indians. Right now we are focussing on the entry level IT jobs that people with no IT experience can master in less than a year.
As of now, we have 3 programs:
- Data Analyst is specifically designed for students who wish to join the big data revolution and start their careers as Data Analysts, Data Scientists, and similar roles
- Software developer, (full stack developer)can help commence one’s coding career by helping a learner get a job as Full Stack Developer.
- Learning IT from scratch, is the perfect option for those who want to build a successful IT career and increase their earning potential.
The genesis of the last product was through discussions with corporates (recruiters) and customers (learners). We realized that 80% of the people who are interested in moving to IT have very little knowledge about the field. As they have many doubts, they tend to be cautious about making a wrong choice. We thought if learners were to make an important decision such as a career switch that will define a lot in their lives, it should not be based on half-baked information. So we created this product that first allows each student to try out different IT programs and experience them through live and hands-on projects (like making a small report or creating a simple website) – and later finalize after counselling, by our career coaches. We saw a tremendous interest in such a concept and many learners signed up for the first batch!
Our goal in terms of number of products – is to offer all the popular entry level professions in IT in the broadest sense including engineering, management, design, digital marketing, and others. There are a lot of paths in the IT domains, and we would like to give our customers plenty of different options that would suit their needs at the starting point.
3.There are many players in India, both homegrown and global, who offer tech career programs, what makes your programs different? What are your USPs?
Ans: Frankly, I do not believe that in today’s world, there are clear USPs between different players in a competitive market (Famous VC Grelock partners spelled it out back in 2017 https://news.greylock.com/the-new-moats-53f61aeac2d9). The game is more about building moats with your competitors that will be too wide or too costly to overcome.
Fundamentally you have to start with a great product – all other things pale in significance in the long run if a product does not meet the expectations. As entrepreneurs we must build different moats that would create an edge and compete against other companies with great products. We feel that right now in professional education it is all about marketing and distribution.
Our key idea is to build a brand that will cater to the widest audience and gain the trust and recognition from this audience. To achieve this goal we will:
- Build a product portfolio that will cater to a wide audience, those without IT backgrounds
- Tailor our product to teach in very easy and effective way – starting from the fundamentals
- Create a community of people who want to switch to IT field and start helping people even before they have made a conscious choice to sign up for the course
- India is faced with tech talent crunch. Do your programs address that?
Ans: India facing a tech talent crunch is a problem and we as an industry are trying to solve it. Indian companies are struggling to find the right talent to manage massive digitalisation that has taken place since the pandemic. It is true that finding good software engineers & programmers is increasingly becoming a major challenge. We believe that there is a huge gap between the formal education system and what hiring managers want. Our goal is to bring them job ready software developers, data analysts, data scientists and other IT professionals.
On the other hand, there are learners in India who would love to explore new opportunities. They are motivated and have what it takes to become an IT specialist. We feel that the trend of automation has reached a tipping point and we are living in the age of implementation. It means that all the basic technologies have already been designed and tested. The industry now faces a huge demand for implementation specialists – people who can use existing technologies to bring value to the business. These people do not need to be math geniuses who can develop cutting-edge solutions from scratch. You can train a motivated person in less than a year to perform those tasks and be gainfully employed in both product and service companies. We focus on doing that – helping office workers to reskill themselves so they can find a job as entry level software engineers. It is a win-win situation for both companies and professionals.
- How do you ensure suitable placement for your students? Where have they been placed so far?
Ans: This is a great question! Hiring managers have specific criteria when they decide to make an offer to a candidate. The catch is to know exactly what they are – that’s what we do before we launch any course. We reach out to several dozens of companies and reverse engineer their hiring criteria, so that we know exactly what the market wants from an entry level software engineer for a particular position. Then, we design our curriculum around these criteria. By the end of the course, we have a final exam that is structured exactly as a technical assignment for the job. And once the learner/ professional/ student successfully passes this exam, it is very easy for us to place them with a decent package. From an employer’s end the problem is that they do not see enough candidates who can successfully pass the technical interview. Our students can do it by design, that’s why our hiring partners are happy with our students and recruit our students repeatedly.
As of today, we have placed 93% successful learners in the market and in leading companies such as Vodafone, Puma, Tata group, Midland Credit Management and many more. In addition to ‘Honest Job Guarantee Policy’ our average salary placement is of Rs.7,50,000 LPA and highest salary of 36,00,000 LPA.
- Retention is a challenge for EdTech platforms in India. What are you doing to ensure that your learners successfully complete a program?
Ans: Retention is a serious problem and there is no silver bullet to solve it. Before starting Coding Invaders, we ran a professional education company for 5 years in Eastern Europe and we learned about the ingredients for high retention rate through trial and error. Indian students are not different from their Eastern European counterparts – I would say that on average our Indian students are more motivated and determined to complete the program.
We are confident that our programs will help our students find suitable jobs, needless to say effort and dedication are absolutely essential. What we must do is to eliminate problems on their way to completion. It is tedious work of 1% improvement, and you need a lot of data to make your product perfect. It is small things like how easy it is to understand the concept, do we have enough practice assignments to learn the skill, does the student have enough time in a week to do it, at what point in their journey do they need support and a helping hand from a mentor or a learning coordinator. Our product is constantly changing based on inputs from the learners – so in a way it is more like an app that is updated every week, rather than a book that is written once and for all.
We use the best learning scientists, data engineers and instructional designers from India, Europe, and the United States to improve our process and we continue to improve it as we have more learners on the platform. And our learnings from the bootcamp model help us refine our program on a routine basis.
- In your view, which are the tech skills that will be in demand in 2023?
Ans: In my opinion, all tech professions are going to see a rise in the near future. As more and more services migrate online or become more digital you will need different skills and talent to do it well. Specifically, we still see a big rise in terms of data analytics and data science. However, the biggest demand remains for an assortment of skills for software developers – they are the building blocks of a growing digital economy, and the demand for these specialists will remain very high for many years to come.