Last week, I was asked to give an interview about my experience at the Coding Dojo programming boot camp in Silicon Valley. One of the questions I was asked was how did I get the most out of my time there. Thinking about the question, I realized that going into the boot camp as an entrepreneur gave me an advantage.

Coding boot camps are becoming more and more popular as the number of tech startups continues to grow. A majority of students hope that they will get a job as a junior developer after attending, but in reality, entrepreneurs are the ones who benefit the most. This is because boot camps are built for you to create a team, build a product, and make connections. Below, I'll explain how, as an entrepreneur, you can use a coding boot camp to make huge strides for your startup.

Come in Knowing What Needs to Be Built

When I attended Coding Dojo, we were responsible for creating a final project by the end of the class. Most boot camps do this so you can apply what you've learned. Unfortunately, few people pursue their project any further after they leave their boot camp. As an entrepreneur, however, you already know what you need to build from the first day you get to the boot camp. This gives you a huge leg up, because you don't need to take precious time from class thinking about what you need to build.

Also, on day one you can let your instructors know why you're at the boot camp and what you need to be able to build. This will help them tailor their time with you, so you can concentrate on developing the skills you need to get your project built. The best way to go about this is to bring wireframes of your startup idea with you on the first day of class. We did this with Alumnify, and we ended up building our version one and getting funded before the boot camp was even over.

Build Your Team

A great part of the coding boot camp experience is group work. You get to meet hard-working and like-minded people who want to be in the tech industry. This is a perfect time to build a startup team. As an entrepreneur, you've found a gold mine. Not only are you able to get to know your potential hires for three to six months, you also already know that these people are looking for jobs.

When you start boot camp, don't make the mistake of only interacting with your computer. Get up and be social. Make new friends, work together, and eventually try to spot the smartest people in your cohort. Chances are, there are going to be people in your class who are better developers than you are. Instead of trying to compete, see if they'd be interested in working with you, or at least try to get them to help you build your project. We used this strategy at Coding Dojo, and the person we recruited ended up becoming our CTO.

Stay in Touch

When the project you started in a coding boot camp ends up doing well, it's a huge deal. The instructors of your boot camp will be extremely proud that the lessons they taught you helped you create your own company. When you leave, they will want to continue to help you in any way they can. Most students will quickly move on to a first job or begin focusing on other resources to get their own company off the ground. This is a huge mistake, because you would be neglecting some of the best resources you have available.

After you graduate from your boot camp, make it a habit to update your instructors once a month. As your company grows, your boot camp can help you recruit more developers, build up your press, and find investors.

Published on: Sep 18, 2014