“I stopped looking for people with skill sets because they’re rare,” said Michael Choi, the founder of the learning community site Village88.
As a serial entrepreneur who interviewed many an aspiring software engineer for his own companies, he found that over 90% of them lacked the needed skill sets for the jobs he was hiring for.
Seeing the need for an online learning hub and business incubator to teach students essential programming skills often overlooked in college, Choi created the learning community named Village88.
Initially test run in the Philippines, Village88 opened to great fanfare.
Village88 began as a free service that offered a mentor, unlimited e-mail support, weekly scheduled learning labs, checked assignments, an end-of-the-course certificate and lastly, a job fair.
There were 4,500 people who signed up in only four months. As of this writing, people from a total of 107 countries checked in to the site for its courses.
With regards to the personalized attention given by the mentors on the site, Choi further asserts that although “it doesn’t scale, it’s much like Code Academy but better”.
"We're really helping them save anywhere from five to seven years of time by consolidating all these things that they need to know and delivering it with a personal mentor," he further revealed.
The model that the "village" initially took was that of a free learning service which recoups its running costs through the fees businesses pay to hire its certified graduates.
Although grateful testimonials from students were sweet rewards, those alone can not sustain a company with paid employees.
Choi added that recently, a shift is happening to the site considering that “a lot of Silicon Valley companies are not willing to hire people overseas”.
Adapting to such demands, Village88 now conducts on-site teaching courses in Mountain View designed to attract people from in and out of the Silicon Valley.
Only recently through Meetup.com, Village88 has conducted an HTML and HTML5 workshop at Hacker Dojo.
This coming October, Village88 has planned meetups for learning CSS, CSS3, JQuery and Ajax. As a learning community which first attracted a user base through a test run abroad, the village is also slated to potentially create jobs in the United States.
Village88 will also begin to charge for its courses as well.
However, their initial followers need not worry.
Choi assured that "for people in the Philippines, we're still going to leave it free for a few months to get students signed on and to deliver what we promised".
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