Named after the year of the Great Chicago Fire, 1871, the 50,000 sq. ft. startup hub in downtown Chicago officially opened its doors last Thursday, ushering in the future of technology in one of Chicago’s oldest buildings, The Merchandise Mart. Now, engineers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, startups, techies, and students can use the space to begin crafting their dreams, and Code Academy, a 12-week program that teaches non-techies web development, has been the first tenet to “beta- test” the space. Even before the grand opening, Code Academy was able to pack the house with over 500 attendees for their first Demo Day.
Launched by two young African-American entrepreneurs, Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee, Code Academy started its third semester with 80 students and three instructors. According to McGee, they should be in the neighborhood of $1 million in revenue by the end of this summer, which is the direct result of about two years of hard work, determination, networking and being told ‘no’ more times than they would’ve preferred.
Northwestern graduates, Sales-Griffin, 24, a business major and McGee, 23, a graphic design and political science major, knew nothing about software development before they founded their tech startup. But they attempted to learn code themselves over a 12-month period, scouring the web for classes, materials, and any resources they could find.