Betamore brings Academy back for winter session with some changes - Baltimore


Jan. 30, 2014 10:15 am

Betamore brings Academy back for winter session with some changes

Two, 12-week courses in front-end web development and back-end web development will begin on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11, respectively.
Full disclosure: Mike Brenner is a partner with Baltimore, which works on occasion from the Federal Hill incubator.

Returning for a winter session is the Betamore Academy, the series of courses in programming skills offered and operated by the Betamore incubator and coworking space in Federal Hill.

Two, 12-week courses in front-end web development and back-end web development will begin on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11, respectively.

An informational meet-and-greet with the Academy teachers and Betamore staff is scheduled for Feb. 6.

As Baltimore reported, the Academy first took place over 10 weeks beginning in mid-September 2013 and enrolled 22 students spread out among three courses in front-end web development, back-end web development and digital sales and marketing. A fourth course in mobile development was never launched, said Mike Brenner, cofounder of Betamore, who added that a majority of the students signed up for the back-end development class.

Courses in the fall cost $3,000 apiece. The winter session front-end development course is priced the same as the fall course, but the back-end programming class this time around costs $3,400.

Mild success greeted the first run of Betamore Academy, established for the purpose of outfitting would-be tech workers with a repertoire of skills needed to either work for a local startup or begin a venture of their own. According to Brenner:

  • 22 percent (between 4 and 5) of the students had their courses paid for them by their current employers for professional development purposes.
  • 33 percent (between 7 and 8) of the students enrolled to hopefully find a job through Betamore Works, a companion program intended to send Academy graduates to jobs with local tech companies.
  • 45 percent (between 9 and 10) of the students enrolled to “learn the skills needed to launch their own startup.”

As for Academy students who signed up in an effort to snag a tech job, Brenner said Betamore is “still in the process of helping some of them land jobs.”


At least one student, Larry Phipps, did find work.

Phipps worked at a golf course prior to enrolling in the back-end web development class taught by Paul Barry. At the time Barry had been working as a developer with Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial, but he left LivingSocial at the beginning of this year to take a CTO job with OrderUp, a Betamore Works partner. Around the same time of Barry’s hiring, the startup was looking to make an additional hire, and Barry brought in Phipps, who is now a junior developer with OrderUp.

“Before the Academy I was working a couple different part-time jobs, unsure of what I wanted to do,” Phipps said. “After taking some online coding tutorials, I realized that it would be beneficial to have someone to learn from one-on-one and to be in an environment more conducive to learning.”

Barry, who has lived in Federal Hill for seven years, thinks time in the Academy is well spent.

“Students who have gone through the Academy and have a firm understanding of web development by the end have proven they can pick up new things on the job and keep up with the latest tools and technology,” he said.

The winter Academy course will focus on HTML, CSS and JavaScript programming in the front-end development class, and Ruby on Rails programming in the back-end development course.

Brenner isn’t releasing enrollment numbers yet, but said 40 percent of the enrolled students were sent by their current employers.

“Enrollments for our winter session are already higher than our fall session with a much bigger adoption among employers that want to send their employees for professional development,” he said. “We are continuing to respond to the hiring needs within our region and so far it’s paying off.”

Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist outside Washington, D.C. He's written for Wired, Backchannel, Popular Science, Fortune, the Washington Post Magazine, the Atlantic and elsewhere.


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