Entrepreneur Runs Coding Academy To Help Students Gain Real-world Software Development Skills

Marcelo Ricigliano is the co-founder of 4Geeks Academy, a Miami based coding academy with campuses in USA, Chile and Venezuela. 4Geeks Academy students gain real-world software development skills that traditional education left behind but are required to meet the demands of our digital economy. 4Geeks Academy offers part-time or full-time, always on, bilingual curriculums focused on advanced software skills while providing unmatched job placement assistance. Prior to 4Geeks Academy, Ricigliano was the CEO for Vikua, a Smart City Startup that was named as one of the 30 most promising tech Companies in Latin America by Forbes. He has also launched several other startups (some have failed and some exist included) across different tech Areas: traffic info, e-health, and unified communications. Ricigliano is a stubborn entrepreneur who doggedly pursues the “why” behind every thought. We had a chance to interview Marcelo and asked about his story, how he started his business and the future of 4Geeks Academy.

Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?

I graduated as a lawyer and received my LL.M. Master’s of Law degree from Stockholm University. Somehow, I decided to change career paths just after my Post-Graduate education. 4Geeks Academy is not our first entrepreneurial project. We (Alejandro and I) have launched a few startups before. Prior to 4Geeks Academy, I was the CEO of Vikua, a Smart City Startup that was named as one of the 30 most promising tech Companies in Latinamerica by Forbes. However, after 12 years of friendship, this is the first time that Alejandro and I collaborate on a project.

4Geeks Academy is our proposal for a new framework to the world of coding education. We recognized the need for software developers (500k open position only in the US) and the will of those who are looking to switch careers or enhance their professional experience. We now have campuses in the US, Chile, and Venezuela, with more than 400 graduates and a job placement ratio of 90%

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How did you come up with your business name?

4Geeks Academy is a combination of two things. Back in 2010, Alejandro started a software shop together with 3 friends, but most importantly the number “4” is intended to work also as a “for”. It’s a project “For” “Geeks.”

Tell us about your products and services. How do you help clients (in this case students)?

Coding education is our main priority. We deliver a coding program intended to train people with zero to no skills in the field, in order to help them become a software developer. There are two main facts surrounding our coding education proposal: There is a huge gap between skillful talent and the number of open positions in the field.

Our Full Stack program has been built with the purpose to graduate Junior Software Developers with the skills required in the market. After graduation, our students are ready to start applying and working as developers. This allows them to change careers, earn more money or even undertake tech projects on their own.

There are two bootcamps within one program: Training you with the software skills required in the market, and helping you build a professional profile (projects, experience, resume, portfolio, etc.) towards finding a new job in the field. Our team, all the way from the US to South America, works together sharing the same values, vision, and approach. Everyone in 4Geeks Academy is set to help you become a software developer and help you land your first job in the industry.

What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?

One of our main strengths is our part-time program. Our first concern was how to deliver a program for those who just can’t quit their job. Our part-time proposal allows students to become software developers, all while maintaining their daily lives as is (job, education, family).

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Then, we focused on how to offer a program that is “attainable”. We understand that coding programs are “costly”. It’s also true that it’s cheaper and more efficient than traditional education, but the cost remains as the main factor for someone without the proper resources. That’s why we recently launched an income Sharing Agreement (ISA) aimed to give our full-time students the opportunity to pay after finding their job in the field.

4Geeks is committed to delivering a premium coding education within a proposal that could be obtained by many.

Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?

We are currently working on opening new campus locations. At the moment, we have 6 locations across 4 different cities. We are Licensed by the Florida Department of Education and we manage the coding program at Miami Dade College. 4Geeks Academy has also been recognized as one of the top 10 Coding Bootcamps in the US (2017).

Part of our strategy is to launch new “specific” programs, programs aimed to those who already took our Full-Stack program or for those who are already software developers. It’s what we call “after programs”, kind of a “specialization programs”. News will be announced later this year.  

Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?

As I previously mentioned, I am not new to working in different fields with no prior knowledge or experience. I have failed and I have had successful exits. I don’t believe there are any secret ingredients. I have come to understand that one good product launched on time is better than having a perfect product coming late to the market.

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I also believe that having a partner who is a solid companion in terms of trust, capabilities, and understanding, is key for a successful project. I consider myself very lucky to work with a great team that is committed to achieving the very same goals as I.

What is your favorite business quote and why?

“Everyone should learn to code because it teaches you how to think”. Steve Jobs.

It’s just the truth and I happen to agree.

What have been some of your achievements that you are most proud of? Why?

Launching startups it’s always challenging and stressful. However, it should be also fun. If you don’t get to love and enjoy the work you are doing, then everything about the process becomes tedious and overwhelming. This is the first time that I can truly say that enjoy each and every work day because of my team, the students, the challenges and what we are achieving with the program.

I will also add that getting the opportunity to have a coding school capable of growing in different locations and having the opportunity to train and deliver a multilingual program, is also a big satisfaction.

Mercy - CBNation Team

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