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Wyncode’s Ed Toro on eMerge America’s Conference: “We’re Honored They Selected Us”
Written by wyncode on 28th April 2015, 12:42 PM
South Florida is a programmer’s boom town and Wyncode’s Ed Toro is one of the leading educators making it so.
As Head Instructor of Wyncode Academy he has graduated nearly one hundred job-ready web developers, entrepreneurs, and startup talent. Several have successfully founded companies funded by early stage investors.
Toro, an MIT computer science grad, will be headlining a panel on Education Technology for the upcoming eMerge Americas Conference. He will be joined by other leaders in the field to discuss if and how disruption in the education sector is taking place. Here’s what Toro had to say about future billionaires, Deepak Chopra, and venture capital investments.
Congratulations on being invited to speak at eMerge!
We’re honored they selected us to participate on the panel. They’ve been very good to work with.
For those who don’t know, what is eMerge Americas?
It’s a tech conference that’s attempting to rebrand Miami as a tech hub and gateway to Latin America (and the world). They have an “EPCOT vibe” with European, Israeli, and Latin American startups presenting. The conference has evolved into a grab bag of topics. It’s not just tech. Pitbull shows up and Deepak Chopra shows up. And they talk about inspiration and motivation and goal setting and startups and entrepreneurship and Miami. And it’s all got this entertainment element that’s unique.
How did you get involved?
At the beginning of the year Jo and Juha Mikkola (Wyncode’s founding team) decided to pitch an education-themed panel for eMerge. And we got it. The topic is “Disrupting Education”. We wanted to ask “Is the market disrupting education or is education disrupting the market?” Are the educational alternatives offered by companies like Wyncode or CodeSchool replacing college? I don’t think they are, but that’s what I’m prepared to talk about. I think there is a spectrum of educational options out there for everybody and a sweet spot for every individual who wants to learn. Who is disrupting whom? Is Wyncode’s success the result of market demand or does the existence of Wyncode drive changes in the market? That’s what we’re going to discuss.
Who is the audience?
I imagine there will be people interested in education technology in the crowd: businesses, startups, University administrators, high school teachers, students in online training programs, and investors who have interest in the space. VC money is being pumped into this segment. CodeSchool was just acquired by PluralSight for $36 million. Flatiron School just closed a $9 million Series B after their successful $5.5 million Series A last year. There have been other acquisitions, consolidation, and a lot of business activity that could attract attention to the panel. There’s a land grab with code schools popping up all over the country. There’s a lot of interest in this space.
Where does Miami Tech stand in the national conversation?
New York and Silicon Valley are very insular. They think they’re “the only game in town”. They may sometimes cede the throne to Chicago, London, Israel, and India, but we’re not even considered second tier in their eyes. The whole point of the conference is to show that Miami is its own unique cosmopolitan tech hub. Technology touches everything so we take advantage of what’s unique to area and showcase it. If you want to work in the travel/tourism and hospitality industry, where better than here? And the fact that it’s so easy to get here from South and Central America and Europe makes a difference.
How many students have you graduated from Wyncode Academy as of today?
We’ve graduated about 80 so far. We should be graduating about 100 new developers every year. That’s probably on par with other local university computer science programs. And Miami is home to two of the biggest colleges in the country, FIU and MDC.
Any future billionaires in your classes?
I have no idea what a billionaire looks like, but I’ve seen a lot of people with hustle, drive, determination, and ambition. They leave the program confident in their new abilities. We have 3 angel funded startups launched by alumni so far. And we know we’re making a difference because hiring partners are picking up 2, 3, or 4 developers from each cohort. We get so many young driven people with varying skill sets, teach them, and they join companies and contribute immediately. Creating that talent pool is what leads to the one million, ten million, hundred million, and billion dollar companies.
What have you learned from your students?
Teaching code is harder than writing code. Education is a serious discipline and not to be taken lightly. We are always looking for the most effective ways to reach our students.
How do you quantify success?
We know that over 90% of our students get jobs in this industry as a result of the education we provide.
Where do you hope to be for next year’s conference?
I just want us to get better at what we do. I’m a perfectionist. I also want to maximize the efficiency of our alumni network. That’s who creates the ecosystem for our graduates. We always like when Wyncoders hire other Wyncoders. And we’re looking forward to the success of our new location opening up in Ft Lauderdale.
Check out Ed Toro alongside Gregg Pollack of Code School, Chris Boniforti the CIO of Lynn Unviersity, and Jaret Davis from Greenberg Traurig as moderator on the Disruption of Education panel on Tuesday, May 5th at the eMerge America’s Conference 2015.