Interview: Dayo Osikoya – The Code School, Ghana

The Code School is an 8-week intensive beginner-friendly coding school at the iSpace Innovation Hub in Accra run by Dayo Osikoya and his team. Interested participants are taken through...

The Code School is an 8-week intensive beginner-friendly coding school at the iSpace Innovation Hub in Accra run by Dayo Osikoya and his team.

Interested participants are taken through the fundamentals of technical skills needed to make beautiful web and mobile apps.

I interviewed Dayo Osikoya, Founder and CEO of The Code School to find out more about this great initiative. This interview is the fourth in series of the Unearthing Entrepreneurs in Ghana interviews.

<1> How did the idea of The Code School come about?

I belong in a lineage of professional teachers – my Dad and paternal grandmother are both teachers – and I taught nursery school in Nigeria (nursery in Nigeria is equivalent to kindergarten in Ghana) for two years after high school. So it was only a matter of time for the teacher in me to ‘come forth’.

Add that to about a decade of software development in various areas of tech and being raised by parents who are entrepreneurs, you would figure it is only natural for me to combine my passion and expertise.

<2> Would you describe The Code School in under 50 words?

The Code School is an intensive, beginner-friendly coding school in Accra. At the moment, we are teaching a 12-week course on web and mobile app development, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Classes started January 2015 and they are held at iSpace in Osu.

<3> When did you realize you wanted to be a developer and what made you start working on The Code School?

Being a developer is something that happened by virtue of taking the unusual route of getting an internship instead of going to university. I started working on The Code School because Africa desperately needs people with the requisite skills to bring ideas into reality.

Ideas are not businesses.

Secondly, there are tons of opportunities in the tech space in Africa – both in the creation of products, services, and jobs, and as a very effective solution to the problem of youth unemployment.

<4> How would you describe the Ghanaian technology ecosystem?

I didn’t have much exposure to the Nigerian technology ecosystem so this would not be a comparison.

The Ghanaian tech space is growing, albeit at a very slow pace because there are more people who talk about technology than are making attempts at creating opportunities. That’s the easy (but not very effective) way to grow a tech ecosystem.

We need more hands-on people – business analysts, designers, and engineers. We need these even more than we need venture capitalists. It’s great to have hackathons and tech events but it will be all talk if the ideas and solutions do not transform into thriving businesses. The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is doing a great job. It would be great to see more attempts at creating tech businesses.

Dayo (3rd from Left) as featured speaker at One Acre Fund’s Happy Hour in Accra

 

<5> Why should Ghanaians be interested in coding and how would they benefit from it?

Firstly, coding is a very lucrative craft. At a time when too many Ghanaians are without decent jobs, being able to code is an invaluable skill.

Secondly, technology will eventually make many current jobs obsolete. People with the skills to fit into new tech roles will have a big advantage over others.

Finally, there are so many problems in Ghana and Africa at large that technology can solve and not enough people tackling them. There is a real opportunity here for people with the right skills, and it would be great for indigenous African companies to provide these much-needed solutions and reap the benefits.

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<6> Who do you see as your target audience? How are you reaching them?

Our target audience is anyone who wants to learn to code. The only (non-strict) prerequisite is that the person should have finished high school. We are reaching them mainly through social media, online ads and radio interviews.

<7> On growth and expansion, how do you see The Code School growing? Would you be expanding to other parts of Ghana and Africa?

Absolutely. Over the next 5 to 10 years we would be expanding to other parts of Ghana and Africa.

We intend growing slowly to ensure that we hire the best hands and keep our quality intact. We would be hiring instructors this year and outlining plans to enter other cities in Ghana. The actual expansion will not happen this year, probably not even next year.

<8> How are you running the Code School currently? Do you have any support/funding from any VCs?

The Code School is fully self-funded. We have not received money from any investor.

<9> On partnerships, who are your current partners supporting The Code School?

iSpace Innovation Hub, one of the innovation hubs in Accra has partnered with us to provide space for classes.

<10> You’ve had a varied career working as a Developer. What one piece of advice would you give to your past self 5-years ago?

This is an advice I have followed and would give to (passionate) developers; be responsible for your own career development. You are going to work with various organizations – some will be excellent and some, below par – and in different positions.

Take the experience but always keep your career focused and have the bigger picture in mind. Do not allow your role or work to distract you from that goal.

Here’s an example; the last 4 years of my career have been in the application support space – not software development. I could have slacked off in coding since my daily duties do not compel me to code. Instead, I used my experience as a developer to solve problems and get ahead of my colleagues and even the company itself.

If I had stopped coding because my role didn’t require it, I would not have had the confidence to start The Code School. Here’s a second piece of advice – Always Be Coding (ABC).

<11> What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing as a Developer?

The biggest hurdle I have faced as a developer would be the initial stages of learning to code.

Even though I was fortunate to have a very brilliant trainer and mentor, the learning curve was still steep because I learnt to code on the job and there was always the pressure to deliver.

<12> What are you most excited about at the moment?

I am excited about the possibilities teaching coding and empowering young people with the most in-demand skill in the world brings. I am also excited about having the opportunity to build my own businesses and bringing all the lessons I have learnt (both technical and non-technical) to bear. Over the next two

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Mac-Jordan Degadjor

Mac-Jordan Degadjor

Award winning Ghanaian Technology and Startup Enthusiast. Passionate about the inter-correlation of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation within the African tech ecosystem. Tweets: @MacJordan Got news, products or services to promote on the blog, reach out via hello[at]macjordangh[dot]com or (+233) 544335582
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Mac-Jordan Degadjor

Award winning Ghanaian Technology and Startup Enthusiast. Passionate about the inter-correlation of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation within the African tech ecosystem. Tweets: @MacJordan Got news, products or services to promote on the blog, reach out via hello[at]macjordangh[dot]com or (+233) 544335582

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