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For theCoderSchool, Franchise Development is All About Organic Growth and a Family Feel

The supplemental education brand prides itself on its customized approach to teaching and mentoring students.

Coding school franchise theCoderSchool has taught over 30,000 students since its inception. The after-school program, which operates year-round, has continued to offer instruction during COVID-19 thanks to virtual classes. The brand teaches coding by pairing students with Code Coaches, experienced coders who also act as mentors. 

Founder and CEO Hansel Lynn shared his insight on the coding school’s franchise development journey. 

1851 Franchise: When was your brand founded, and when did it begin to franchise? 

Hansel Lynn: We were founded in Silicon Valley in 2014 and began franchising in 2016.

1851: How long did it take to get to 10 units and other milestone numbers? 

Lynn: We’ve always prided ourselves as being a “mom-and-pop” or “boutique" franchisor instead of a corporate machine. As such, our primary focus has always been about our relationships with our franchisees and managing a more purposeful and organic growth path. Having said that, we are proud to have opened our 10th location about a year in and are working on opening 50 locations by the end of 2020.

1851: Were there any operational changes the leadership team had to make to help the brand grow faster? 

Lynn: Our core product is quality, customized teaching of coding to kids, and that is something that hasn’t changed since day one. We’ve evolved in many other operational ways, from how we track student progress to our many custom support tools, and, of late, our ability to teach online.  However, we’ve never had a specific goal of faster brand growth, but rather organic growth and supporting existing franchisees as best we can. We’ve always felt that to be the best long term solution.

1851: When was your biggest growth period, and what helped propel that growth? 

Lynn: While we’ve been fairly even in growth throughout, there was a time when our growth felt faster than usual. Unsurprisingly, it was a time when I hired a business development person, paid with commission, to help sell franchises for me. In the end, selling for commission didn’t feel like a fit for who we are, so we’ve since replaced business development with an in-house resource who isn’t compensated on commission, and are happy with our current growth path.

1851: How does your brand differentiate itself from the competition? 

Lynn: We’ve always focused on quality over quantity. The way we teach is very focused and customized to the student. We feel like every child learns differently and has different passions — so the best way to teach them is individual to each child. To accomplish that, we use a very small 2:1 teaching ratio, with the same Code Coach for each lesson. Admittedly, that doesn’t come free, and it does indeed take more work to implement and manage. Contrast that with our competitors who typically use a one-size-fits-all curriculum (or a one-software-fits-all teaching style). Their style is more quickly scalable with less effort, but we feel it doesn’t have the same quality as our individualized instruction.

1851: How many locations does your brand have today, and how many are in development?

Lynn: As of today, we are around 45 locations. We have five to seven in development.

1851: What resources do you have in place to help franchisees scale their business? 

Lynn: As a “mom-and-pop” franchisor, our greatest resource is really ourselves. While we constantly create new custom tools and methods to help them scale, our best resource is a direct line to the leadership team to work through any issues or ideas on an as-needed basis. We’ve also built a culture of sharing and communication amongst the network, where we share our success and not so successful stories through our internal forums and occasional brown-bag share meetings. Finally, our leadership team continues to be in contact with every single franchisee with frequent check-ins to make sure they have everything they need. After all, we want our network of franchisees to feel like a family as much as we can.

1851: What qualities does your ideal franchisee possess? 

Lynn: A desire to work hard to get their own results. A passion for helping our next generation, and a passion for helping each other. A focus on the long term quality of the product — not a short term view of maximizing revenue. Someone who wants to be involved in running the business — no passive investors here!