Comments: 159 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

zzah36 karma

Nice job so far!

Without any kind of exams, how do you ensure that all students at least know the theoretical basics? Team projects often allow some participants to get away with doing almost no work...

And isn't there a part of formal education that should be teached at a university? To me your university feels more like a (very awesome) apprenticeship to become a programmer and not a university level education. Maybe that will change, when you offer masters?

code_tom7 karma

Our goal (and one of the main challenges for this kind of learning approach) is to make sure that students are not looking for the easiest solution for a specific problem they are facing in their project but are eager to understand the fundamentals behind it.

So in a way we use the curiosity triggered by a specific problem students are facing in their projects to confront them with the more general ideas, theories, and methods that are related to their problem. Our name C<>DE stands for Curiosity-Driven Education btw ;)

That may also be the most important difference between our approach and an apprenticeship, that we use the practical experience to constantly reflect on the underlying theories, concepts and methods. And students can go back to their project and apply their newly acquired knowledge and test its usefulness in a real world context. So in a way we don’t need exams to force students to learn theoretical stuff. Our job is to make sure that our students understand why those basics are important so they are eager to learn them without being forced to.

Regarding the formal education, that’s where our Science, Technology and Society Program kicks in. There you learn about how to read and write in a scientific way, how to sharpen your critical thinking skills and how to properly do research.

WakeskaterX2 karma

Yeah but that stands for Curiosity is Not Equal to Driven Education... ;)

code_tom1 karma

Nitpicker ;)

theforgottenddplayer13 karma

How hard was it to start up your startups?

code_tom24 karma

It never felt very hard for me, to be honest. I was lucky enough to get into coding when I was 13 and started earning money with it when I was 14, so founding a startup what simply the next step at some point. There is a very active and supportive startup ecosystem/community in Germany and world-wide which really helped a lot. And there are business angels and venture capital investors that funded my startups and shared the risk with us founders, so I never had to fear any tough financial consequences. I always knew that I'm still young enough to pursue another career if necessary.

FlakF4 karma

Man you started early. What was your motive for creating this university?

code_tom7 karma

I first thought about it 13 years ago, when I was 19. That was when I was looking for a place to study myself and was disappointed by the traditional computer science offers. CODE simply is the university I would have loved to study at myself.

greengo103 karma

So what did you do at 19?

code_tom3 karma

I actually studied at a private business school in Germany. That's where I learned about private universities, so I asked myself why there are so many private business schools in Germany, but basically no "tech schools".

Rohleng13 karma

What are your Thoughts on the educational system? Should it change in the light of automatisation and the then needed soft skills (empathy, teamskills, leadershipskills)?

code_tom14 karma

That's exactly our line of thinking. We need to focus on human strengths like team work, creativity, communicative & collaborative skills, since more and more analytical skills will get automated in the future. And access to knowledge has changed so much thanks to the internet. Don't get me wrong, hard skills are needed as well, but only in combination with the others.

ck_mfc12 karma

Hey Tom,

I am following your university since the beginning and really like the idea. I actually wanted to apply, but too bad I already had started my apprenticeship as IT specialist. Now after I have finished my apprenticeship, I really want to start studying but also keep working.

Do you think CODE is right for someone like me who already gained a foothold in professional life? (I'm 22 years old btw.)

code_tom13 karma

Thanks so much!

I think most of our students are working on the side (although not full-time) and many of them have prior professional experience. 22 years is there average age of our current students.

Just drop me an email at [email protected] if you like and let's have a chat about your individual situation :).

dirtyrango12 karma

If I live in the U.S. can I attend your school tuition free through the German reimbursement program?

code_tom38 karma

We're a private institution and don't get any money from the state. So we need some form of tuition to keep the university independent and sustainable long-term.

But we offer a pay-later tuition model where everybody (no matter where you are from) can study for free now while agreeing to repay a low percentage of the first ten years of your later income. That makes it totally fair and risk-free for students, which is probably why 2/3 of our students chose it to finance their studies.

EmperorMing1016 karma

How do you make sure the students actually pay back? I can understand how you could track down domestic students but foreign ones might be harder

code_tom4 karma

Yup, that's a big risk for us. We put a lot of trust in our students and their integrity.

CreamiKween5 karma

Hi, Tom! Is CODE also open to students who have absolutely no computer science / math background, especially students from the fields of humanities / social sciences?

code_tom3 karma

Absolutely! It will require a lot of commitment and willingness to learn, but it is totally possible.

Btw besides Software Engineering, there are also our Interaction Design and Product Management study programs, which might be a good alternative for students from these backgrounds.

We also have a mandatory Science, Technology & Society (STS) program for every student regardless of their primary study program that covers humanities, philosophy and liberal arts topics.

Kotter30005 karma

What do you think is messed up in the German regulatory environment? What TOP 3 things would you like to see changed?

code_tom10 karma

It differs from state to state. I was actually positively surprised by the regulatory environment for higher education here in Berlin, it's much more open than I originally feared.

The bigger issue is that the vast majority of university education is owned and funded by the state and therefore often not very student-oriented, meaning that innovation in teaching isn't a priority for them. They have a constant influx of students anyway. The big universities are to us what big corporates are to startups – we don't expect Siemens to innovate like startups do, so why should we expect state universities to innovate? German society needs to have a much more open mindset towards private universities. It's the only chance we have if we want to see more innovation in education without having to wait another 20 years.

But since you asked for my top three pain points with the regulations:

  • There should be more room for experimentation, like a special protective status / pilot phase for innovative universities

  • Universities in young, innovative disciplines need to be able to appoint professors without always requiring them to have a PhD

  • Private universities must be included in state funding programs like the German Hochschulpakt – as of now the state receives money from the federal government for each of our students but simply keeps it to themselves.

L-Carnitin5 karma

Wouldn't a higher percentage of expensive, tuition based university extend the gap between poor and rich even further?

code_tom2 karma

Not if we find a fair financial solution. When you study at a public university, it still costs money – it's just not you paying, but the tax payer. In Germany, the average cost per student and year is actually around 9,000+ €/year, which means it is equally expensive as most private universities while often providing less value for the students. And I guess to most it is not a surpirse that something run by the state isn't super cost efficient anyway.

We need a solution where students are free to choose their university and the state will pay for that education (obviously within certain financial bounds) regardless of whether it is a public or private institution. Some ideas around that are discussed as so-called Education Vouchers (Bildungsgutscheine). Or a state-financed income-based repayment model.

Until that exist, I think that our own income-based repayment model (sometimes also called "reverse generational contract") is a fair solution for everyone.

Milvolarsum4 karma

Do you got room for discussion?

There should be more room for experimentation, like a special protective status / pilot phase for innovative universities

I think if you really want to go that directions, some regulations need to be put in place first. It is really easy to fail for innovative projects, isn´t it? Even if they are really good. So there should be some kind of decision process for what ideas should be supported. But I also agree with you, nearing the end of my masters, I experienced myself how the current system just doesn´t support large scale world class skill acquisition, and only a few very motivated students usually get the skill which is needed for innovation. Many of them may aqcuire it later in life, but still. I think your university make a really good attempt at fixing this, and I really like the system behind it.

Universities in young, innovative disciplines need to be able to appoint professors without always requiring them to have a PhD

How do you imagine those professors being chosen?

Private universities must be included in state funding programs like the German Hochschulpakt

This would require for there to be more money given to education as a whole. Otherwise money just becomes thinner for those that really depend on it and the never ending battle for funding will likely get even fiercer. However, if the number of students going to private universities also rises, I can imagine ther to be some change required on how the money could be divided.

code_tom1 karma

I think if you really want to go that directions, some regulations need to be put in place first. It is really easy to fail for innovative projects, isn´t it? Even if they are really good. So there should be some kind of decision process for what ideas should be supported.

I totally agree, there has to be some kind of decision process and regulation as to which experiments are supported. Otherwise you end up with a bunch of Trump Universities. At the same time it shoudn't be up to professors from traditional universities to decide which of those innovative concepts gets a chance. Rather it would be very helpful to agree on specific quality aspects and performance indicators but leave it to the individual institutions how to reach those goals.

How do you imagine those professors being chosen?

The main requirements as stated in the German Higher Education Law would still apply: teaching experience and qualification, professional experience related to your field of academic expertise, research competence. And the appointment process needn't be changed either: gather a committee with professors and students, scan for candidates, ask external professors for their expertise, get to know the candidates and the appoint the best one. But you would have more flexibility to appoint someone who is a great teacher and has an outstanding professional profile but lacks the formal proof of research competence aka PhD or Doctorate (and just to be clear: as long as all doctorates and PhDs are treated equally it is really just a formal aspect with no reliable indication of actual research competence) or an ambitious young researcher with a faible for teaching who lacks the professional experience (aka at least three years of professional experience other than at a university).

This would require for there to be more money given to education as a whole. Otherwise money just becomes thinner for those that really depend on it and the never ending battle for funding will likely get even fiercer. However, if the number of students going to private universities also rises, I can imagine ther to be some change required on how the money could be divided.

Again, I totally agree, the state should invest much more money in education. At the same time it would be good to create a financial incentive for universitites to actually care about the quality of their teaching and the satisfaction and success of their students. Right now it is all about research grants and third-party-funding and nobody gets rewarded for being a good teacher.

matts25 karma

Who accredited you?

code_tom6 karma

The State of Berlin granted us state recognition in July 2017, following an audit and recommendation from the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). We're accrediting our study programs through the German AHPGS accreditation agency.

matts26 karma

I am not at all familiar with the German government accreditation. What does it mean? Do you expect your graduates to be able to get into graduate school based on this degree?

code_tom2 karma

Yes. In Europe (to be more precise within the European Higher Education Area, see Bologna Process) our degree is accepted as formal entrance qualification for every Master or graduate program. It's exactly the same Bachelor degree one gets at every other university within the European Higher Education Area.

That doesn’t mean that our students get into every graduate program for sure since every university can specify additional requirements for their own Master or graduate programs or limit access to their own undergraduates, but that’s a different story.

Formally speaking all Bachelor degrees in the Bologna Area are equal as long as they are emitted by a state-recognized university or university of applied sciences like us.

Grimacin4 karma

How do you overcome the mental hurdles of fear, procrastination, and failure?

code_tom3 karma

Actually fear & failure have never been an issue for me since I always felt that I would fall very softly. Always told myself "I can still be a coder and charge 600+ euros a day if my startup fails".

Procrastination is another beast however, and a constant fight for me. I lack discipline in doing stuff that I don't like. So I always pursued projects that I'm really passionate about and joined forces with people that helped me handle the other stuff (e.g. my co-founders).

MelrosePirate3 karma

To me, the most difficult aspect of starting is finding those first clients and customers. How did you tackle this challenge in your start ups?

code_tom5 karma

That of course depends very strongly on the kind of industry you're in, but in general I prefer to build things that solve such a strong problem for people that they're actively seeking a solution and finding us by themselves.

Vxerrr3 karma

How many of the students who make it to the challenge pass it?

code_tom2 karma

We don't have any quotas, so it really depends on the individual contribution of the applicants. About half of the challenges that were handed in make it to the next application step as of now.

NotTryingToConYou3 karma

Has selling one startup and "becoming successful" affected how you approach risk for your next ventures? Does the security of money let you take bigger leaps of faith?

code_tom3 karma

Definitely! It's not just money, it's also personal network and reputation that grows, which is even more important.

To me there is a certain level of wealth that covers 99% of my needs, and everything beyond that should be re-invested to maximize positive impact. And I think many more people are actually within that wealth bracket than they think. They're just needlessly accumulating money without a bigger plan.

I even think that as an entrepreneur I owe that to society. That's also why I'm helping to build the

rabbit_hands3 karma

How much money are you making?

code_tom4 karma

My paycheck as Chancellor of the university is 60k € annually right now. But I have other sources of income.

Kotter30003 karma

Do you plan to sell code university/ go public/... ?

code_tom8 karma

This is not at all about money for me. I don't need to sell.

Badestrand3 karma

What do you think is the reason why Germany doesn't have any major companies in the web? Why is there no German search engine, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or Android?

code_tom5 karma

Mostly because of a much weaker venture capital ecosystem in the past. I has gotten much better in recent years, and there are multiple large German startups now that were able to raise 9-digit amounts of funding – but always from international investors.

As a founder, I need to adapt to the ecosystem. If I know that there are very few investors funding crazy big + risky ideas, I don't even start a company in that space. I go for safer options instead (e-commerce, SaaS etc.). Many seem to misinterpret that as a sign of German founders having "less ambitious ideas" – but it's not their fault.

vincentweisser3 karma

Whats your long-term vision with the CODE university? Where would you like to see it in 10 years?

code_tom8 karma

10 years: Staying independent. 2,000+ alumni, around 1,000 concurrent students in our current Bachelor and future Master programs.

Vision: To inspire as many universities, schools, professors, teachers and politicians to rethink their approach to teaching, since we can't revolutionize the educational system on our own. Even with 1,000 students we will still be tiny (Germany has 3m students alone). So we have to light up a fire.

irakligoderdzishvili3 karma

Any plans on expanding CODE to cover more fields and programs, or opening campuses in other locations?

code_tom5 karma

We might go deeper into more specific focus fields like dev ops, data science, online marketing, entrepreneurship etc., but I don't like the idea of separate study programs anyway. I would prefer adding additional skills to our competency framework so every student can create an individual skill profile for their studies. The borders between disciplines are fading.

As for campuses in other cities – not planned for now. Berlin is an extremely international city with a great tech ecosystem, and helps us to pull in students from all over the world. There's so much more potential.

irakligoderdzishvili2 karma

I see, thanks! I'll be at the university for this upcoming Step 3 admission day, looking forward to meeting you all!

code_tom1 karma

See you there!

Giru-sa2 karma

What is the main research of the CODE?

code_tom1 karma

We focus on teaching so far, as we just launched half a year ago.

Future research topics include Machine Learning (where Facebook sponsored a professorship), Blockchain (where we're also establishing a dedicated professorship within the next months) and of course topics in the disciplines of Interaction Design and Product Management.

Kotter30002 karma

Any advice for German startup founders?

code_tom3 karma

Keep learning. Harness the power of the startup community. Be open about your ideas and seek advice from others. Visit events and connect with others.

NirvanaFighter2 karma

Have you considered going into politics? Do you think this would make it easier to change something about the regulatory situation in Germany?

code_tom3 karma

Really not sure. I gained quite a bit of experience in politics since I co-founded the German Startups Association and maintain good relationships to many politicians. For now I feel I can have more impact by consulting and working together with them instead of becoming a politician myself.

chouprojects2 karma

Hey Tom, I'm a founder of a digital marketing agency living in Berlin (Canadian). One thing I noticed is that the German mentality is extremely different from that of their UK or US counterparts - hence, why so many US/UK based companies fail to enter the DACH region. ie. Casper

Have you worked with companies outside of the DACH region? If so, did you find that their mentality differs greatly from those in your home country?

code_tom2 karma

I agree. It's much harder to win over early adopters/evangelists for your business in Germany, since people are more cautious/skeptical/conservative towards new stuff.

Regarding education, there's one really interesting thing about many Germans: They're not thinking of it as much as an "investment in themselves" compared to people from other countries. Many take education for granted and don't compare between different institutions as much as they should. E.g. We have a state organization in Germany which is basically called "central agency for the placement of students" (formely ZVS, now SfH) that every student signs up with and then gets assigned a spot at a German university by them. So many regard university education as commoditized/interchangeable.

FearAndLawyering2 karma

Did you write your own wikipedia page?

code_tom2 karma

No, but I adjusted/added some facts about myself at some point since journalists regularly cite from it.

Hellup2 karma

What is your & your university’s vision on developing the soft skills of software Engineering-students? Some student-engineers prefer focussing on programming only and less on soft skills, project skills or front end skills. How do you broaden their horizon?

code_tom1 karma

We're focusing a lot on soft skills. At CODE you're always working in interdisciplinary project teams consisting of students from the Software Engineering, Interaction Design and Product Management study programs. So you automatically learn a lot about team communication, collaboration and coordination as well as public speaking skills when presenting your project results. Of course we're also offering courses around these topics to make sure students acquire those skills.

To broaden their horizon even further, we have a mandatory Science, Technology & Society (STS) program for every student regardless of their primary study program that covers humanities, philosophy and liberal arts topics.

VulpineCat2 karma

How does your university differ from a standard one? Why found it?

code_tom2 karma

We believe that having a goal and a clear idea of why you need to learn something is extremely important, so we're always connecting theory with practice.

Our students choose the projects they wanna work on, build interdisciplinary teams and then are supported to achieve their individual learning goals. So projects induce or lead to theoretical knowledge, not the other way round.

Traditional institutions often start with months or years of theoretical basics without show a clear path of why you would need them. We think that's unnatural. Just look at how small children learn. One of our mottos is that learning is productive failing.

Ambitious_Ninja2 karma

How can you have a university which is student centered without lectures/exams? How are students learning without lectures? Is it through online lessons?

code_tom8 karma

We train students how to continuously learn stuff on their own. To ask for help from peers. To become the best autodidacts. Technology is changing so rapidly and studies are such a short part of your life.

We believe that ubiquitous internet changed our access to knowledge in a fundamental way. Why should we assume that our lecturers are more sophisticated than the ones at Stanford/MIT/Harvard etc. that already published some of the best e-learning courses online? We help our students to find the right people and resources, but we rarely create them ourselves.

JeyLPs2 karma

That's my biggest concern with Code to be honest. I'm currently applying at code and working on my challenge (which in my opinion is quite difficult to master simply because of the very loose structure of the task) and am still not sure if Code is the right place for me. I really love your concept of studying for I agree that it's the best way to learn, although Im unsure if the tuition fee is not too high for the services you provide. Do you mind explaining your opinion on that and also some maybe some insight to why your team decided to design the challenge so loosely?

Edit: And also: What is your own opinion on whether or not one should already be able to code when starting at CODE?

2. edit: Don't you think that after graduation it will get difficult for alumni to find a job / university for a master degree because CODE only provides Bachelors of Art?

code_tom1 karma

We designed that challenge (which is part of our application process) to be as unstructured, open and creative as possible because that's exactly what we expect from students and want to train at CODE. We're all about digital product development, which is not only software engineering but also includes the other disciplines like design and management. We're not educating nerds but creative team problem solvers, so a test/puzzle with one specific solution would have been an inappropriate assessment.

CODE is an ecosystem, a learning community and a platform. We believe that education is at least as much about community (students, mentors, organizations) as it is about content. So don't just think about the obvious "services" we provide (e.g. teaching), but also about the access to our ecosystem and community. You'll meet incredible people here. We're your home base and platform to grow as an individual.

We intentionally decided to go for Bachelor of Arts degrees (vs. Bachelor of Science) because we wanted to make clear that we differ from traditional programs by focusing on interdisciplinary and more creative skills. It doesn't make a real difference though, gets accredited in the same way and is equally valuable, e.g. business schools typically award BA degrees. I've never heard of any employer who looks for the specific details of your Bachelor's degree as long as you can convince them that you're a good fit. When graduating from CODE, you will be able to show a future employer a full portfolio of projects you've worked on during your studies as well as a very detailed and individual competency profile. I think that is much more valuable than some grades in university courses.

bitcoin-traveler2 karma

What are your thoughts on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? Are you planning to accept tuitions in Bitcoin?

code_tom2 karma

I believe in a bright future for some of them (that includes Bitcoin), and a big bubble for many others.

Sure we're accepting tuition payments in Bitcoin – we can do that today. I just know of very few people who are actually willing to spend their Bitcoin vs. keeping them ;)

Consumer4511 karma

I don’t want to drag you into a religious conversation, but do you understand why Bitcoin did not increase the block size? I can’t wrap my head around that decision.

Also, great work!

code_tom2 karma

I don't follow the scaling debates on a daily basis since I have to run a university.

Scaling any software in general is not easy. It's important to remind ourselves that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are all experimental software. And experiments can fail.

The best scaling approach may not be always be obvious until seen in hindsight. However since trust-less crypto currency software is necessarily open source, different approaches can be tried simultaneously by different development teams.

GSMM172 karma

Hey hope I'm not too late! This has actually been one of my dreams for a long time but never seemed reasonable enough and went a different entrepreneurial route. So, and forgive me if this has been asked, how DO you in fact start your own university?

code_tom2 karma

As easy as it sounds it's mostly about gathering support from other influential people in the beginning – investors/donators (for funding), academics/politicians (to get accredited), journalists/influencers (to get the word out) and then obviously the students themselves. Building businesses is always about gaining trust from others in the end – co-founders, employees, investors, suppliers, partners, customers.

My co-founders had prior experience in building an accredited university, which would have been impossible without them. But I searched for them for more than 5 years, so essentially they were my first and most important supporters.

Bademeister12 karma

Hey Tom - im about to start a Coding School/bootcamp in cologne. Would you be interested to be part of that project? In any way.

code_tom1 karma

I need more details on that :) Just drop me an email.

MrSolitaire2 karma


I'm glad to see such a thing exists. I live in the US and am one of the fortunate (and extremely lucky people) to manage an IT career without a college degree. If there were schools here that went with your mentality I would of signed up for sure.

I'm a SQL Server DBA/BI DEV now after dragging myself from being a password reset robot to an SA etc.

Question: Say you woke up tomorrow, and all of the items and deals you succeeded with vanished. Do you feel the market for angel investors and tech start ups are better or worse than they were previously?

code_tom1 karma

Thanks! You mean whether the conditions for tech entrepreneurs have improved over the last years? Definitely!

Milvolarsum2 karma

I think a big factor that is totally under represented in formal education and is often only given by extra courses, are soft skills like how to connect with humans, morals, how to cope with stress and other things. Do you plan on teaching those things in your university next to the normal programm? And if so how?

code_tom1 karma

I'll just c&p my answer to Hellup's question from above:

We're focusing a lot on soft skills. At CODE you're always working in interdisciplinary project teams consisting of students from the Software Engineering, Interaction Design and Product Management study programs. So you automatically learn a lot about team communication, collaboration and coordination as well as public speaking skills when presenting your project results. Of course we're also offering courses around these topics to make sure students acquire those skills.

To broaden their horizon even further, we have a mandatory Science, Technology & Society (STS) program for every student regardless of their primary study program that covers humanities, philosophy and liberal arts topics.

Wyzzard1232 karma

Hi Tom! I've been thinking of diving into creating my own startups and coding, and my gf and I were once discussing plans to create a school where people learn skills that prepare them for the real world. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this thread crossposted in r/Entrepreneur. As some background, I'm a Singapore based law student in a school that focuses quite a bit on projects compared to other schools.

I've been spending the past few months trying to sell my gf's and my designs on the side and also find out how businesses run. So my question is, what's the most important thing one needs to know when starting a new business and school like you did, and what is the most important thing I need to find out to make these work in my country?

Thank you!

code_tom2 karma

You should first ask yourself whether you want your school to be accredited or not. There are plenty of educational institutions/academies out there that are not accredited and still very successful (e.g. all the coding bootcamps or institutions like Ecole 42, Make School, Holberton School etc.).

We decided to go for an accredited university because we wanted to offer a multi-year study experience instead of just a bootcamp and wanted to innovate the university system from within rather than as an outsider.

If you want it to be accredited, you have to read up on the specific requirements and processes in your country.

SalahAzhary1 karma

How did you set your foot into learning computer programming. Was it online or at school? What advice would you give someone who is very keen on coding but is unsure of where to start?

code_tom2 karma

School didn't play a role at all. Back in 1998, I was mostly using books, CD-ROMs and some online resources.

But it always came down to looking at other people's code, adapting it and learning from that. That was more satisfying to me than starting with a blank code editor from scratch.

Seems like there are many great sites like Codecademy etc. to learn coding these days. Just keep in mind that if you're more motivated by actual products/results than just some coding puzzles, you should try to find something that puts them first and then works its way back to the code.

jeremy836071 karma

Being an entrepreneur in Germany is like being a jogger across a newly tarmacked road on a hot day. At some point you will get stuck. Fast. Then. Stop.

It costs 15,000 Euros to set up a GmbH in Germany. How on earth can you beat that system? I have suggestion. If anyone can write any kind of app which automates the shitty paperwork needed in DE, then they will make a fortune.

code_tom1 karma

Not entirely true. a) You can set up a UG instead of a GmbH starting at 300 € b) It doesn't "cost 15,000 €" to setup a GmbH, you just have to invest 12,500 € but then can spend it. I agree paperwork can be a pain though.

SecretlyAShitposter1 karma

Do you plan to do anything in the direction of eSports with your university?

code_tom7 karma

Many of us are very passionate about eSports. I know that some of our students are planning to start a league for German university students.

But in terms of study programs, I don't think so.

VulpineCat1 karma

What's your favourite game?

code_tom2 karma

Digital: Starcraft II

Analog: Poker

LasekApps1 karma

I have made a start up SAAS that combines all users links (social media/ affiliate offers/ websites) in one and is shareable by one link. Thus, increasing user engagement / followers & even revenue.

I have messaged hundreds of Instagram Influencers and bloggers but most ignore me. I am having trouble marketing, how can I manage to get the word out there? I can DM you the website since I don't want to publicly announce it.

code_tom1 karma

Hm, I think if it really solves a problem, you should work on winning over one influencer after the other and then ask them for support to promote/recommend it to other influencers. Perhaps even by winning them over as business angels where they get a small percentage of your company to help you promote it.

viiboa1 karma

How would you describe the students of the university?

code_tom2 karma

Definitely adventurous, since they joined a newly founded university in its very first year ;)

Generally they clearly are team players, pioneers, ambitious, entrepreneurial and very enthusiastic. We all share the vision of a student-centered university with a different approach to education.

And they come from all over the world (25 nations) including the US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Venezuela, Turkey, Iran, India, Nigeria, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, ...

thewisdomofaman1 karma

What’s the greatest lesson that’s come out of this for you and for someone with big ideas for startups, what would you give as advice?

code_tom2 karma

Most of the time, things aren't as complicated as they might seem. I always thought it would be much more difficult to build up a university and get it accredited.

By choosing a topic/industry that many people care about (education in my case), I got plenty of support from other entrepreneurs, journalists, politicians, academics and even strangers. Getting so much support and appreciation was a really uplifting experience for me and made this all possible.

MedinaPharma1 karma

How did you market your first startup and did venture firms find you, or did you have to reach out to find them?

code_tom1 karma

They approached us, but the landscape was different in 2006. For other startups I was the one actively approaching investors. It always happened through business angels, personal contacts and networking at events/conferences.

Marketing strategies strongly diverged between my companies. For the first one (a large online video site called sevenload), we didn't actually have to do any active marketing at all. It was mostly word-of-mouth and long-tail SEO.

MoshikStein1 karma

Hi, I see, students can get Bachelor degree at your university. Do you have any statistics or information whether this diploma is recognized and can be approved/confirmed in other countries?

code_tom1 karma

The degrees we award are exactly the same Bachelor degrees one gets at every other university within the European Higher Education Area (see Bologna Process).

tektic1 karma

How can we get something going like this in the United States? We as a country need it haha

code_tom1 karma

There's a bigger variety of offers in the US on both ends, more hands-on and not accredited (like Ecole 42, Make School or Holberton School) as well as more academic (like Stanford, MIT etc.). I don't know about institutions that might be a good in-between.

pinkfraud1 karma

Is there an age limit or a certain background eligibility requirement for your school? I'm a non-EU 28 year old major in accounting but always felt I took the wrong career path when I was 18.

code_tom1 karma

No, open for everyone as long as you make it through the application process.

SAPit1 karma

Any chance of Masters program?

I am 28 am looking to move from being a ABAPer to a more all round programmer.

code_tom1 karma

Working on that, but will take another 1.5-2 years.

But why wait for a Master's degree? Why not just do a second Bachelor's? Good software developers are in such a strong demand that if you're talented, nobody will care about Bachelor or Master anyway.

SAPit1 karma

I am 28 already. Do you think it adds to my cv?

code_tom1 karma

If you learn something new :) We have multiple students above that age.

ProjectNxT1 karma

Hello, Tom! You're so inspiring. What's your daily schedule like, when do you sleep, when do you wake up?

code_tom1 karma

That differs from day to day, since no day is like the other for me. I'm travelling a lot for meetings, public speeches or private reasons, so it's really hard for me to have a clear structure.

I also like to party and enjoy life quite regularly, which messes even more with my sleeping schedule :) I'm blessed with a very solid sleep though, which makes things easier. A typical day at home begins at about 8am and ends at about 11pm to 1:30am.

GermanHouseMafia1 karma

What is your favorite type of music? Any favorite DJ, maybe? :D

code_tom5 karma

The older I become the more electronic it gets – and with electronic music there is a lot of diversity in artists ;)

Nothing special here: Daft Punk is one of my all-time favorites, also Coldplay for non-electronic music. And I love MEUTE for live acts.

darrensurrey1 karma

Would you have been so successful without knowing how to program? (In other words, could you have got someone else to develop the sites you sold and still made a success of things?)

code_tom2 karma

I don't think so, because working hands-on probably is my biggest strength, while I'm not always a very good people manager. Passion in what I do is such an important factor for the quality of my work that just coordinating others wouldn't have worked out for me. But that's a very individual thing.

shilch1 karma

I read about CODE in newspaper (I think it was Zeit) and really liked the idea.

I have two questions:

  1. What is the best way to find investors for a start-up in Germany?
  2. How did the companies that later acquired your start-up(s) get in contact with you?

Thank you in advance!

code_tom2 karma

  1. By building a personal network. That mostly started through events/conferences for me, and at some point every new contact is a friend of a friend. You need to work/network your way up from founders to angel investors to VCs and so on. Besides that there are plenty of pitching events/competitions these days that might be a good opportunity as well.

  2. For companies 1 & 2, they were already involved as investors before. That is a risky move which I wouldn't universally recommend to others, but it worked for us. For company 3, I actively approached them (also by meeting with their Corporate Dev guy at a conference).

Mantis-Tobaggen1 karma

How does it feel to have so many MySpace friends?

code_tom1 karma

I care more about my Instagram followers these days ;)

fairpixels1 karma

Congrats and what a fantastic structure! How profitable is this model for you?

code_tom1 karma

Not profitable at all so far, and it will take many years to break-even. When it does, I'm planning to reinvest most of the profits into making it better and more impactful anyway.

Solacefire1 karma

What were the three startups you made, and what skills did you work on to develop them?

code_tom1 karma

  1. sevenload, an online video site
  2. Fliplife, a browser game
  3., an online CV editor

I'm an allrounder, my strongest skills are in digital product development (coding, design, concept) as well as online marketing, PR and networking with people. I'm not very passionate about traditional business skills like accounting, legal etc. but can also handle it if necessary.

TrickyThoughts1 karma

Hey Tom, your program has caught my attention. I've been looking for something like this for a long time, since I do a lot of development, design and call myself a "bootstrapper", and find myself lost w/ no clear career in mind. What do you think is the ideal background for someone to take on any bachelor program in your university? I've personally worked on plenty of websites, have some SaaS products in mind and been designing for at least 5 years, but maybe this isn't the right career for me. Thanks!

code_tom2 karma

That sounds like a pretty good background for CODE. About 2/3 of our students already have prior experience, many of them also from professional work. Sounds like you're mostly looking for orientation and community? Just get in touch with me at [email protected] if you wanna have a personal chat.

Backpain921 karma


What is defined for you financial freedom?

From what amount of money a day, will you consider yourself financially free?

code_tom1 karma

Totally dependent on the country and what kind of lifestyle you wanna have of course.

For me personally and me alone (without family) around 5,000 € net/month are enough to feel perfectly free – that's less than 100k € gross/year. I spend a bit more than that but could totally live without it. On top of that comes using money for impact like angel investments, donations etc.

Backpain921 karma

What prevents you from achieving this financial independence today?

code_tom1 karma

Nothing. I'm not seeking financial independence, otherwise I wouldn't have started a university but a real business instead ;)

boklos1 karma

I read through the CODE website, so if i live abroad (in the US) my understanding is that i can not attend remotely(online) neither i can apply for income based payment later because that is only for Germany(europe?) correct? i have to live in Germany to attend this university?

code_tom1 karma

Physical presence in Berlin is mandatory at least for a few days a week, but everyone can choose the income-based payment model (not only Germans/Europeans).

befuckingnice1 karma

What do you think of blockchain and how it will effect all aspects of technology and industries over the next 5 years?

code_tom1 karma

I'm pretty unsure to be honest. As a tech guy I love the idea and hope it brings so much more openness, interoperability and transparency to the internet. But as an entrepreneur I also feel it's overhyped quite a bit, and that most cases where people want to use blockchain today will be solved with traditional solutions in the end because it just isn't economically worthwhile to use a blockchain.

BergHeimDorf1 karma

Thank you for doing this. I wanted to ask what were some of the hardest and most frustrating moments in your career? Was there ever a moment something went very badly and you wanted to quit?

code_tom2 karma

Sure. My second startup (online gaming) didn't run very well, and the product wasn't successful enough to keep the company afloat. One day I had to lay off 50% of our staff. That was a very hard time for me. We managed to sell the company in a talent acquisition, which was better than letting it fade into bankruptcy, but still felt like a failure to me.