A Singaporean coding school is turning engineers into teachers, raises funds from Tri5 Ventures

UpCode Academy, a coding school in Singapore that sources technology professionals as teachers, announced today it has raised a S$300,000 (US$220,000) seed round from Tri5 Ventures. The company has previously been backed by 500 Durians — the Southeast Asia-focussed fund from 500 Startups.

The money will be used to build its classrooms and acquire more students and teachers.

The company is also working on an online platform so people can crowdsource the best professors and the classes they want. This product is expected to be launched in January 2018.

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UpCode Academy was started in September 2017 and has run 16 courses for over 300 students. The types of classes it runs are in the following genres:

  • Data Science and Machine Learning
  • Hardware Engineering
  • Deep-Tech: Clean Energy and Med-Tech
  • Fintech
  • Web and Mobile App Programming
  • Cybersecurity

What makes UpCode Academy unique as a coding school is it does not employ full-time teachers. Instead, the company uses current working professionals to teach students.

The goal of this strategy is to make sure the engineering being taught are on the cutting edge of industry standards. The company is currently working with Google, Airbnb, Grab and Carousell.

UpCode Academy was started by ZP Lee — a college dropout who built 40Tasks, a mCommerce platform that rode the wave of Singapore’s flash deals trend from a few years ago. Lee is a self-taught coder who is now capable enough to lecture part-time at Singapore Polytechnic and Singapore Management University.

“I’m someone who jumped into tech without any formal education background. I understand the fears of many people similar to me. But believe me, the rewards and fulfillments of working in tech is worth the effort,” he said in a statement.

Tri5 Ventures previously invested in 40Tasks.

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Universities, while they seem to understand the importance of teaching code, oftentimes move too slowly to provide students with hire-ready skills upon graduation.

“We see many graduates leaving schools without any tech skill sets relevant to companies. Even current tech professionals feel their skill sets aging because of the rapid changes in the industry. Companies are willing to pay big bucks to look for talents with in demand skill sets, such as data science and machine learning,” said Lee.

Tri5 Ventures is a VC based in Singapore that targets angel and seed-stage companies in Southeast Asia.

This article first appeared on e27.