Coding Park is an interactive platform that allows children to learn to code. Its two “masterminds,” Amine Lajmi and Adrien Elkaim, told us about the development of Coding Park and their ambitions for the future. The start-up is a winner of the 2021 ranking of the French business magazine Challenges.
- Chapter 1: Your entrepreneurial experience in 1 figure
- Chapter 2: the genesis of the entrepreneurial idea
- Chapter 3: Confirming the entrepreneurial idea
- Chapter 4: getting started
- Chapter 5: the take-off
- Chapter 6: the future
- IntoTheMinds podcasts
The marketing idea to be retained absolutely
The market segment that the founders of Coding Park were initially targeting (public schools) did not prove promising. It was the private schools that were most quickly seduced. Coding Park’s offer allowed them to differentiate themselves. Another essential advantage of this segment is the decision time. While in the public sector, decision times are lengthy and punctuated by administrative procedures; private structures can make decisions more quickly and feed the cash needs of start-ups.
When presenting your product to prospects, consider explaining how it will differentiate them and gain market share. Make your product a key component of your customers’ business success.
Chapter 1: Coding Park in 1 key figure
The number chosen by Amine and Adrien to illustrate their success is 10,000, the number of registrants on Coding Park since the launch in 2019. The Covid crisis has helped the growth. With the confinements, parents have indeed had to find occupations for their children. Online learning platforms have been a popular solution for parents to keep their toddlers busy when classes have stopped.
Coding Park is an Edutech, i.e., a company specialized in teaching through a digital product. Coding Park allows youngsters to learn programming through a playful interface in which Cody, the main character, is the hero. The child learns the basic instructions (close to Python) and can thus take his first steps gently thanks to a “mini-language,” which is more flexible in syntax rules.
Chapter 2: the genesis of the entrepreneurial idea
In 2015, Jabier Martinez and Amine Lajmi, both PhDs in computer science, found in Coding Park a chance to bring their expertise, which had previously been reserved for industrial modeling and simulation applications, to the field of Education. For more than ten years, the two founders have been designing pseudo languages that hide the complexity of computing while being easy to use by non-technical users. The idea then came naturally to propose this know-how to children in the form of an e-learning platform.
Coding Park can be used after a first experience with Scratch. It is an introduction to “computer thinking.” this last “language” uses the drag & drop of functional “blocks.” Thanks to Scratch, the child can already understand the principle of mouths and conditions. With Coding Park, the child can go one step further since it becomes necessary to “write” the code. The possibilities become more numerous, and thanks to the “mini-language,” the child does not risk being deterred by the horrors of syntax errors.
“Fake it until you make it”
This expression is often used in the start-up world. The product is often “sold” to prospects as finished when only at the prototype stage. It is only when the first order is placed that the finalization phase takes place.
“Fake it until you make it” is, therefore, an expression that stems from the need to have a confirmation of the market’s request before going further in the concretization of the project.
Let’s remember that the prototype is one of the first steps in our market research methodology.
Chapter 3: Confirming the entrepreneurial idea
The idea was confirmed at the Start-up For Kids trade show at Ecole 42 in late 2018 (3 years after the project began all the same). The fair proposed start-ups to come and have their products tested by a large audience of families and teachers. The platform was then only in the beta version. Still, the enthusiasm of the children for the universe, and the very positive feedback of the teachers, convinced Amine and Jabier to launch into the adventure.
The first customer arrived following this fair in 2018. Fairs dedicated to families are an effective way for start-ups to get known, and Coding Park is no exception to the rule.
At the time, the product was far from being finished (“Fake it until you make it,” as Amine says during the Podcast), but despite all the teachers, kids and parents were excited.
Feedback from teachers is super important. We thought [Coding Park] was great, but without honest user feedback, I couldn’t take the risk [of starting].
Chapter 4: getting started
The official launch of Coding Park followed the first positive feedback at Start-up 4 Kids. Adrien joined the team to support the sales effort and notably obtained from the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux (Paris suburb) to test Coding Park directly in schools.
Adrien realized that teachers are aware of the importance of programming in the French market but are not yet able to teach it. This was an essential constraint in the start-up phase, as it became necessary to accompany the client. The presence of a team member on-site was a must for the business to take off.
In the French market, teachers are aware of the importance of programming but are not yet able to teach it.
The other big lesson from this start-up phase was that the private sector was more responsive than the public sector. Private schools were able to propose programming activities to their students thanks to Coding Park. In doing so, they differentiated themselves and were able to justify the fees to parents.
Advice for your start-up
Confirming your business idea can be done in actual conditions on a trade show. If you have the prototype, do like Adrien and Amine: make it available to your future users and observe their reactions.
In addition to the commercial contacts that this could bring you, this life-size test phase will quickly improve the product. The feedback of new users is very precious to detect all the flaws of a system that it is impossible to see when you have “your head in the handlebars.”
Chapter 5: Take off
Coding Park proved the product-market fit and generated enough revenue to establish the profitability of the model. The start-up was well helped by the Covid crisis, which left many parents distraught during the successive lockdowns.
A subsidy was granted by BPI France, which allowed to realize using the first recruitments. The premises were also moved to an incubator specialized in cultural and creative industries, Le Cargo.
Coding Park set its sights internationally during the first year of incubation, notably by participating in the Bett UK trade show. It was there that they identified new growth levers. The English market was more receptive and accessible than the French market.
Chapter 6: the future
The ambition of the Coding Park team is to become a key player in the fun teaching of computer science to children and teenagers. Raising funds remains a critical step to achieving this. 300,000€ are currently needed to multiply distribution channels and strengthen the international presence.
A Podcast to help you develop your start-up
The “Entrepreneurship and Marketing” podcast traces the different stages in the life of a promising start-up. By identifying the critical elements of success at each phase of the start-up’s development, we help you find solutions for your company.
The Podcast is divided into 4 to 6-minute chapters. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific theme or development phase. You can listen to the entire Podcast or choose to listen to only a part of it by directly selecting the one that interests you the most. You can also find the video version of the interview on our YouTube channel.
Illustration images: shutterstock
Posted in Entrepreneurship.