Championing the cause of coding

  • News
  • Friday, 26 Jun 2015

1 A scene at the coding bootcamp, where students go through real-world related problems, such as coming up with a routine for everyday tasks.2 Code Division graduate Chen (standing) explaining the revenue and other data points from her team’s three-week beta run on the foodie retail platform she and her team constructed as a result of the nine-week coding bootcamp they attended.

CHEN WEI JIA, 27, was quite the “newbie” when it came to tech matters beyond using her workstation’s programs and her mobile phone.

Names such as Ruby or Python meant a gemstone or a large snake respectively.

Then she quit her investment job to learn coding late last year, in an intensive, nine-week long coding bootcamp.

During those weeks, Chen and other students learnt the finer details of programming languages, with the goal of developing their own apps and start-ups.

The end result was Artisan Food Co, a merchant platform for foodies looking to buy items ranging from hard-to-get ingredients to whole dishes. Chen and her group successfully trialled over Chinese New Year.

Chen was part of some 40 graduates from the Code Division-MaGIC Bootcamp, who were attending their “graduation ceremony” – DevConnect, at RevAsia’s offices in Damansara Uptown last month.

As part of the event, graduates presented their projects to the audience. Some such as the Artisan Food Co platform had gone beyond minimum business viability, while others focused on user experience.

Code Division, itself a start-up, is currently collaborating with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity (MaGIC) Centre to run the Web Development Bootcamp for students who wish to expand their skills.

Code Division founder Josh Teng explained that with Malaysia’s start-up scene expanding, there is great demand for skilled talent such as programmers and web developers.

Teng said the start-up’s students had graduated with a 94% pass rate so far, and some of the students have participated in, and won hackathons.

At RM1,000 to join the bootcamp, demand is high for Code Division’s intakes ever since the first cohort began learning coding in October last year.

According to Teng, industry standards mean that entry-level coders can start earning salaries of about RM3,000, and this goes up to between RM5,000 and RM6,000 within a year or two.

“We throw them problems every day, such as building something like Twitter or Instagram. How would they write the code for that, or writing for a bank’s ATM system,” said Teng.

Some students quit their jobs to learn coding and begin new careers either as start-up entrepreneurs, or begin working for other companies.

Meanwhile, Teng and his instructors are kickstarting a new, more extensive version of the bootcamp called “Code Division Holiday”, named on the fact that the students are going “for the holiday of their lives”.

“It’s cheesy I know. We’ve gotten several enquiries from Singapore and Australia, and this is more extensive, because besides the bootcamp, we make sure they build a viable app.”

Then the Code Division instructors also use their own experience to guide the student in getting traction for his or her app, such as gaining 1,000 followers or downloads, or earning RM1,000 as Chen and her group did.

At DevConnect, several employers from start-ups and large companies alike were present, partly to network and also to scout for talent.

“Whether you want to start your own business or work for an organisation, being able to code opens up doors. And this applies to any industry.

“Besides providing opportunities for our graduates, we also want to ensure that entrepreneurs are able to find the talent that they need. So we organised DevConnect,” Teng explained.

Sometimes, it’s the start-up founders themselves who end up joining the coding bootcamp, such as Tai-Fung Wei Tan, 29.

Tai-Fung, who helped found, explained that when the start-up first began, GoGet’s coding had been outsourced and what returned was “difficult to maintain” with no scalability.

“I learnt that if you want to keep it up and expand, you need to do things yourself.

“After learning about Code Division, I decided to undergo the nine-week course myself, and reworked the coding for GoGet. And if something happens in the future, at least we know what to do, than just outsourcing it,” said Tai-Fung.

MaGIC Academy Director Dr Lau Cher Han, who attended DevConnect as well, praised the output of Code Division’s bootcamp.

“Speed isn’t what we’re after, the main thing is quality, and Code Division is one of the ways to bring up the numbers of local web development talent ,” said Lau.

Lau, along with MyTeksi recruiter Altaf Hameez, noted that the proliferation of start-ups means that coding talent in Malaysia is in great demand, with multinationals and established local start-ups competing to recruit talent.

“And the thing is that the skills the local graduates have are on par, with say the US, but the demand far outstrips the available talent,” said Lau.

Altaf, an engineering graduate whose coding was mostly self-taught, praised Code Division’s efforts in attempting to increase the numbers of Malaysian web development talent.

“Some of the presentations really impressed me, especially considering the two-months plus to learn coding,” said Altaf.

For more information on Code Division, visit

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