When we first started The Iron Yard, we ran a startup accelerator, a co-working space, and events. From the beginning, everything we’ve done has focused on people; whether we’re selecting startups, recruiting mentors, creating workspace for freelancers or running conferences for designers and developers. When companies we worked with told us about their difficulty hiring developers, we found another exciting opportunity to focus on people through code education.
The Iron Yard exists to create exceptional growth and mentorship for people and their ideas through tech-focused education.
I’ll never forget the discussion the partners and I had about expanding the code school. In an all-day meeting, we asked ourselves about our goals for expanding. The answer was unanimous: We want to help as many people as possible launch careers they love. As demand for the code school grew across the Southeast and beyond, we built two leadership teams – one to run the accelerator and one to focus on training developers and designers. We ended up separating the code school and the accelerator into two different companies, each operating under the same brand. This move allowed each team to focus on what they do best – helping people and companies reach their full potential.
When we made our first two expansions beyond Greenville to Atlanta and Charleston, people became interested in our growth plans, specifically whether we would come to a certain city or how they could get involved. The interest was flattering and we explored each opportunity. We worked hard (and still do) to run an organized, profitable school, so our expansions into new markets could be self-funded. Investors started to knock on the door, many of them name-brand Silicon Valley venture capital firms, but we decided to sit tight and really focus on perfecting our model. As more and more good opportunities presented themselves we started taking those calls and evaluating what each investor would bring to the table in addition to capital.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve found that partner in Apollo Education Group as a strategic investor. Why Apollo?
After evaluating many venture funds, we chose to work with Apollo because of their deep domain expertise in education. Our goals are to make key hires, build our company in a scalable way and expand to international markets. Apollo has extensive experience running both bricks-and-mortar and online schools around the world, understanding the education regulatory environment, and managing extensive global employer relationships – something no other investor brought to the table.
We’re not making a bunch of noise about how much money we raised and that’s intentional because our focus is on serving our people (staff, students, employers). Telling the success stories of our students and hiring partners is much more significant than talking about the size of a round of funding.
We’re looking forward to leveraging Apollo’s domain expertise while piloting our own ship. Our founders and leadership team are excited about accomplishing our mission at an accelerated pace. There aren’t any leadership changes as a result of the investment, but you may have noticed that we’ve been busy growing the team over the last several months. I’m still at the helm as our CEO. Mason Stewart will continue to lead our incredible instructor team and will focus increasingly on his role as CTO. Eric Dodds will continue to work on marketing and operations with an increasing focus on the CMO side of his role. Jessica Mitsch, previously a Campus Director in Durham, is now Director of Global Campus Operations. Alan Johnson joined us as Director of Product Development to help build products that will support our students and alumni. Cory Foy also jumped on board as Director of Corporate Training to help us build out programs for our corporate partners.
So what’s next?We will use our increased pool of resources to do several things:
We will continue geographic expansion of the current immersive code education model both domestically and internationally. We recently announced the launch of our first international campus in London. Based on our experience in expansion, we know that we can open 10-15 campuses per year while maintaining the quality that has made our graduates so successful.
We will pursue opportunities beyond our immersive programs, like ongoing education for our graduates who launch careers and other developers, as well as training programs built specifically for employers. We will explore new content areas related to technology and software, like digital marketing and sales.
We’re incredibly excited about what the future holds and we’re constantly looking for great people. If you’re interested it making a difference in people’s lives, check out our current openings.
—Peter and The Iron Yard Team