Interview: David Graham of Code Ninjas | Global Franchise
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Monday 6th February, 2023

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Interview: David Graham of Code Ninjas

Insight

Interview: David Graham of Code Ninjas

If education is all about innovation, then Code Ninjas is leading the pack

If education is all about innovation, then Code Ninjas is leading the pack

The AI industry will grow to $118.6bn by 2025, according to Statista, and 71 per cent of executives say that machine learning is a “game changer”. To capitalize on the employment landscape of tomorrow, education franchises need to start teaching the right things today.

Franchises like Code Ninjas, that are gathering serious momentum. The wildly successful programming concept created by David Graham in Houston in 2016, has now grown to over 175 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada – and has recently entered the U.K. market with its bespoke teaching centers and gamified approach to education.

“Brain time, not screen time”
An important part of any education concept is retention. The Code Ninjas method? “I always say it’s kind of like baking the broccoli into the birthday cake,” says Graham. “The kids get the good stuff, but they think they’re just eating cake.”

Gamification goes beyond the colored wristbands that students wear to indicate their level; students (or ‘ninjas’) play some of today’s most popular titles, like Fortnite, and learn how they’re put together from a programmer’s perspective. They take part in fun classes led by ‘Code Senseis’ held in kitted out ‘Dojos’ – the quirky names that the brand uses for its teachers and learning centers. “As a business model, it’s highly important that we keep the kids coming back,” continues Graham. “The parents are paying the bills, though, and we have parent portals that we’ve built so that they understand that every activity has a reason behind it.”

Coding a community
Code Ninjas’ methodology is founded on a knowledge amassed by Graham over a multi-decade coding career. It also caters to a niche community that he’s unapologetically familiar with: “A lot of the kids that are going to our centers were children like me: they were nerdy and didn’t quite fit into football or piano lessons,” explains Graham. “They needed some kind of place to get out and have socializing time with kids like them. It’s so important for them to have a place where they can go and feel like they can be themselves.”

The tight-knit family dynamic of the brand is holistically accessible, as evidenced by its recently announced initiative, Code Ninjas Cares.

“It’s so important for them to have a place where they can go and feel like they can be themselves”

“Code Ninjas Cares’ mission is real simple,” says Graham. “I don’t care if kids need a snack on the way to a center, a ride to get there, help with tuition, or just somebody to say, ‘Hey, that was really smart.’ We’ll provide that, so that we can build the skills that we think every kid is going to need in the future.”

The future looks bright for the coders of tomorrow, and Code Ninjas has bold plans to expand to as many Englishspeaking regions as possible. Frankly, it couldn’t come sooner: “As soon as the computer overlords take over, we’re going to have to communicate with them one way or another.”

Listen to our chat with David on the Global Franchise Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts

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