This edtech startup by BITS Pilani graduate is helping users master industry-ready tech skills in an interactive way
According to the HRD Ministry, more than 1.5 million students graduate from engineering colleges every year in the country, but not many of them get employed. Another report by Pearson Research says that 95 percent of Indian engineers are not equipped for development and coding jobs.
To upskill students and teach them industry-level coding skills in an interactive manner, Mehul Mohan startedin Delhi November 2020. According to him, the edtech startup combines video content delivery with hands-on practical experience in a bootcamp-based setting to allow people to practice and build projects in their browsers.
“With Codedamn, first-time coders and experienced developers can learn, practice, build projects, and get feedback in real-time. By combining educational content with a real-time coding environment and an interactive browser IDE for hands-on practice, Codedamn is solving interactivity at scale for 100 million people around the world learning to code better,” highlights Mehul, who started coding when he was just 12-years-old.
Codedamn was started as a YouTube channel in 2015. Mehul says it was started with one key intuition: while there was abundant coding content on the internet, there was no platform offering comprehensive hands-on practice that enforces real coding skills. The company was later registered in November 2020.
A self-taught developer, Mehul is a BITS Pilani graduate. He has previously worked on 700+ freelance projects and was an independent security researcher finding vulnerabilities in software. He has been listed in the Hall of Fame at Google, Microsoft and Sony. Mehul is also an Apple WWDC '19 Scholar.
He has also authored technical books and is an industry influencer with over 20 million views and 150k+ subscribers on his own coding education YouTube channel.
At Codedamn, he is responsible for building the core team, getting more industry experts for building new interactive learning paths on the platform, setting the vision of the company, and working on growth and outreach of the platform.
The startup currently has three people working full time, including the founder.
Mehul says the startup focuses a lot on interactive learning, especially for people who are relatively new to a programming language/framework.
“Our USP is our interactive courses consisting of hands-on exercises and projects, which when once prepared, can be simultaneously scaled to tens of thousands of concurrent users practicing globally. We are also focusing and investing heavily on community and mentors as well - because some experiences cannot be fully virtualized yet, at least not right now,” adds the 22-year-old founder.
“We bet heavily on the fact that people learn faster and get a deeper understanding when they practice coding while learning, and that is how all of our coding courses are structured - learning, then doing, then learning, and so on. We provide them with the right structure and with on-demand mentorship - helping them learn at an 80-100x cheaper price compared to traditional offline bootcamps and with a significant speedup in their learning time,” he adds.
Courses on offer
The product is focussed on college students and developers with less than two years of experience looking to upskill their current skillset for new job opportunities, internships, or freelance work.
The skills offered by the startup are organised as learning paths - these are structured roadmaps to acquire an industry-relevant skill set. These learning paths consist of interactive courses, which consist of the following items:
1. Video content - These are regular videos where the instructor walks students through theory and demos.
2. Interactive exercises - These are personalised hands-on labs where students get a full IDE connected to a cloud computer using a simple UI in their browsers. Here they practice and build projects based on concepts learned earlier in the course.
3. Live mentorship - If someone wants to connect to an expert, they can do so with the click of a button. The platform matches an online mentor with an online student synchronously over a video call/screen share for further assistance and human touch.
4. Community support - They can also choose to get community help through its discord server/discussions on course items for free.
Available as a web app at the moment, the startup has over 40,000 registered users, with 600+ paid users. Codedamn claims to be having paid users from over 60 countries across the world.
The startup follows a subscription-based model where by paying a certain amount every month/quarter/year, a student can access all materials and practice the projects on the website.
“Our subscription price starts from $15/month billed annually, to $20/month, which gives access to all platform features (courses and unlimited practice time on practice labs),” the founder tells YourStory.
Codedamn also has a freemium model where people can try some free interactive courses without any membership.
“This acts as the top of the funnel for us. These courses are available to all people. Free accounts also have 200 minutes per month of practice time included,” says Mehul.
Funding and way ahead
“Programming is powerful and rapidly growing in today's connected age. On a macro level, in the next 10 years, we believe learning to program would be as important and basic as learning math. However, we can have much better tools and technology to teach the next generation at scale without breaking their bank. When the next billion people discover the internet and a fraction of them want to learn to code, we want to be ready to deliver that at scale,” shares Mehul.
He says the startup is looking at 250 million college students worldwide and over 30 million developers who could potentially use Codedamn for upskilling and/or building their tech careers. This number has been rising gradually for a long time and we expect to see a boom in the next five years.
Mehul says that Codedamn falls in an industry that has a global total addressable market of $50 billion+ and growing.
Speaking about future plans, Mehul says, “We are also building an interactive full-stack learning path that is scheduled to launch this month. This solves the problem of people wondering “what to learn next” or “what are the prerequisites of learning that.”
Mehul says while he is not aware of competitors in India, internationally, they share the target audience with the likes of Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and Scrimba.
In July 2021, the startup raised $175,000 in pre-seed round from Antler India. At the time of funding, Rajiv Srivatsa, Partner at Antler, said, “Codedamn is a grassroots solution for developing tech and talent at a global scale, cutting across backgrounds, infrastructure availability, and accessibility. As technologies continue to develop and new opportunities grow at an accelerating place, Codedamn has the potential to play the role of an enabler and an incubator within the global digital economy.”
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Edited by Megha Reddy