The DePaul University coding academy that operates out of Pilsen-based tech incubator and learning lab Blue1647 returned this summer for the second time with a more diverse student pool in which every one had their own startup concept.
The coding academy is a free, summer program organized by Blue1647 and DePaul University’s College of Business that runs for 12 weeks. The program was founded in 2015 by Patrick J. Murphy, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul University, and Emile Cambry, the founder and CEO of Blue1647.
It’s designed to give student entrepreneurs the coding tools they need to execute startup ideas that benefit their communities.
“We want to take an unorthodox approach to teaching these students programming, so that students with zero knowledge about programming can learn just enough to be able to have an intelligent conversation with developers,” Murphy said. “This strikes that right balance between entrepreneurship and application.”
More than 100 students applied to the academy, but only 30 made the cut, an increase from the first year when there were only 15 spots open, Murphy said. The program was previously only available to business students at DePaul, but this was the first year it was open to all university students, undergraduate and graduate.
“We had aspiring entrepreneurs from every one of our colleges and schools,” Murphy said. “Our students, a huge proportion of them, want to become entrepreneurs because they have a social purpose imbedded in what they want to do.”
Nearly half of them were international students and every single one had their own startup concept. Here’s a few notable ones:
PitchIt: Amber Adams, a recent animation graduate from DePaul, is the creator of PitchIt, a social media platform for independent filmmakers. Los Angeles and New York are considered the major cities to be in if you’re pursuing film, but Adams doesn’t think they’re the only ones—which is how she came up with the idea for PitchIt.
“My idea was to create a platform in which up-and-coming creators would be able to have more visibility,” Adams said. “A filmmaker would be able to go in and submit a story idea they want to work on and see if they can recruit teammates.”
Adams is still creating her website with HTML and Java Script knowledge she learned in the coding academy, but plans to launch it in 2018.
EarlyVention: Founded by Elizabeth Ames, a former MBA student at DePaul, EarlyVention is a monthly subscription box designed for children with autism and other cognitive deficits that are assembled by adults with special needs.
Boxes include visual, sensory and interactive components that help children play in a productive and stimulating way. Subscriptions start at $39.95.
Bookstore.us: Founded by Shail Patel, an undergraduate finance student at DePaul, Bookstore.us is an e-commerce bookstore, specializing in the sale and transfer of college textbooks. The startup aims to make textbooks cheaper for students. He’s still building his website, but plans to launch it officially this January.
In the coding academy, Patel learned HTML and other tangible skills that have helped him launch Bookstore.us.
“It was cool to see my idea go from just an idea to actually having something in front of me to show,” Patel said. “Everyone there was really helpful. I definitely learned stuff I didn’t know.”