Coding is like skateboarding or swimming, you can’t really learn it by watching other people do it. You have to try it yourself.
But when software engineer Fahim ul Haq wanted to learn new coding skills, most tutorials out there consisted of video lessons, which he found cumbersome. He’d have to follow along with the video, pause, switch to his IDE, manually retype the code, see if it worked and then restart the video. This whole process was too clunky and didn’t really foster education.
“You don’t really learn how to code by watching someone else. You have to get your hands dirty, you actually have to code yourself,” ul Haq told Built In. “And when you’re watching a video, it’s a very passive format for learning.”
He wanted to create a better platform for learning new coding skills, so he and his brother Naeem started Educative. On Wednesday, their company announced the closing of its $12 million Series A, which was led by Matrix Partners.
Educative is an online learning platform that teaches coding through interactive lessons. The lessons are text-based and allow the learner to type their code directly into the lesson portal, so developers can learn code by actively writing it.
“On the backend, we set up a complete coding environment for you, based on the course that you’re taking,” ul Haq, CEO and co-founder of Educative, said. “Since we know what each course requires, we know what libraries, configurations and setup to include and we set it all up in the cloud. So as soon as you’re ready, we present a view of that environment, so you can actually get the feel of this particular framework.”
Software development is one of those careers where you’re constantly learning and mastering new skills. That’s just the nature of software — it’s constantly being updated to reflect the newest coding language or technological advancement. So even if you’re extremely well versed in Java, you may have to learn Golang at one point, or you may end up in a job that requires you to learn how to use AWS or Azure.
Because of this, there’s a big demand for coding education platforms, and Educative has felt this demand. Over 550,000 developers use the Educative platform, and an additional 1.5 million people access its free database of developer articles every month. The company’s user base has doubled in the last year alone. It also noticed user growth in regions that weren’t traditionally considered tech hubs — like San Diego, Columbus, Charlotte and Raleigh.
As a result, the company had to grow too. Educative grew from 50 employees in early 2020 to around 150 now. And the company’s hiring spree is still underway, ul Haq told Built In that Educative welcomed 35 new people just this week. The company plans to use some of its new funding to add an additional 200 employees, more than doubling its current headcount. These hires will be for a variety of roles, from engineering to content, sales, marketing and so on.
In addition to this huge demand, Educative sees another growth opportunity in the B2B space. A handful of companies — including LinkedIn, Samsung, Ford, Visa, GE and VMware — use Educative to onboard their new engineers and upskill their current ones. Educative is working to partner with enterprise companies to create customized lessons to train their dev teams, providing consistent education on a company-wide level.
Educative plans to cater to these new partners by significantly increasing the amount of courses on its platform too. Overall, the company aims to triple its course offerings in 2021, adding lessons for topics like cloud computing, cybersecurity and engineer manager courses.
Adding all of these courses will be no easy feat. Educative rigorously vets the people who create its courses to ensure their quality.
“We have a great instructor acquisition team that finds authors and engineers, who we think that can create great courses. Once we know what courses we want to create —or what courses our customers are asking for — we go and find industry experts to create these amazing courses.” ul Haq said. “We work very closely with them throughout the process. So by the time a learner sees the course, it has gone through a lot of quality checks.”
These steps take extra work, and it means Educative will have its work cut out for it as it adds more lessons. But it’s important for a company tasked with educating over half a million engineers and training dev teams at some of the largest companies. Although Educative grew out of an inconvenience ul Haq and his brother experienced, their platform now impacts 10 percent of developers across the world.