Chicago-based software company 37signals announced Tuesday that it has made its first outside investment in coding school The Starter League.
According to a 37signals blog post, the Web-based collaborative software platform purchased a non-controlling, non-voting piece of The Starter League (formally Code Academy, not to be confused with the online coding school, codecademy). On top of its cash investment of an undisclosed value, 37signals will also host an all-new Rails for Designers class at its offices, take on interns from The Starter League classes, provide mentors and guest speakers for the students, and help The Starter League develop an improved curriculum.
37signals co-founder Jason Fried (who also writes a column for Inc. magazine) has been following The Starter League founders Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee since they bootstrapped what was then Code Academy in 2011, Fried wrote in his blog post. The pair founded Code Academy to provide real, in-person, intensive instruction on how to build and ship software. In just one year, the company has generated more than $1 million in revenue and graduated almost 300 students from around the world, according to the post.
“I’ve been watching Neal and his crew build this thing from the sidelines,” Fried wrote. “I love their opinions about teaching, their point of view, their philosophy about requiring commitment to learn something new, their hustle and hard work, their focus, and their genuine interest in making something that matters. These guys are doing something amazing, and they’ve only just begun.”
Sales-Griffin formed a friendship with the 37signals founder when he attended a coding class over a year ago at the company, and the two remained in contact since. Sales-Griffin's initital mission was to provide a one-stop shop for coding--something he, himself, desperately wanted. Now, though, Sales-Griffin told the Built in Chicago blog that he envisions the institution as something much more. The 37signals partnership and adaptation of its new name are indicative of Sales-Griffin's vision.
“The idea behind calling ourselves a ‘league’ is to be more of a collective people around a cause, which is helping people through software, as opposed to an academy that people can go to just to become alumni,” Sales-Griffin told Built in Chicago.
The group remains firm that it does not plan on expansion. Instead, 37signals and The Starter League will focus on strengthening the school in Chicago before venturing to other tech hubs like San Francisco or New York. Whatever the future holds, Fried says his company is in for the long haul.
“This isn’t the kind of tech investment that you’re used to reading about,” Fried wrote. “We’re not looking to get out, we’re looking to stay in. We’re investing because we want to help these guys build the best place to learn how to ship software and build profitable software businesses. No school like this exists, but it will. The Starter League will be this school.”