About Viking Code School

This document contains everything you need to get a good feel for our program and why we’re forging a compelling and relevant story for the future of education.  

Contact Information:

For general media inquiries, please reach out to media@vikingcodeschool.com 

For time-sensitive inquiries, email Erik at erik@vikingcodeschool.com or call 978.760.0519.


  1. What is Viking Code School?
  2. Our Mission
  3. Why this is Relevant (Industry Background)
  4. Why Viking is Exciting
  5. Our Story
  6. Founder Bio
  7. Appendix A: Comparison to Alternatives
  8. Appendix B: Images

What is Viking Code School?

Viking Code School is an immersive online web development and job placement program which turns students from all backgrounds into world class web developers.  It is the most accessible program of this kind — in addition to being fully online, we only collect our course fee when students get a job, so anyone with an internet connection can potentially access life-changing education.

Our 16-week intensive program, which spans over 1000 hours of supported learning, was first announced on March 25th, 2015 and began on June 29th, 2015.

For more information about program details and logistics, see our website [1].  Viking Code School is incorporated as Viking Education Inc and made with love in San Francisco.

[1]: http://www.vikingcodeschool.com 

Our mission 

Our mission is to launch a million high-growth careers by making life-changing education accessible to anyone with the motivation and capability to seize it.  

To achieve this, we’ve bet our business on building the most accessible, outcome-driven software engineering program in the world.  

Why this is Relevant (Industry Background)

On March 9, 2015, President Obama announced the TechHire Initiative [1], a program designed to help meet the “urgent employer demand across the US” for high-end tech jobs through both traditional and nontraditional means.  The initiative highlights the more-than-500k unfilled tech jobs right now, which is the largest occupational category in the market.  Employers need more highly talented engineers.

Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/techhire 

On the other hand, traditional 4-year degree programs have proven insufficient to fill this need.  The rise of the “Coding Bootcamp” programs, which teach coding skills in months and not years, is an exciting new trend which was explicitly highlighted in the White House announcement.  A Course Report study[2] estimated that this market, which barely existed in 2012, graduated almost 6000 students in 2014, up almost 3x year-on-year.  

Coding bootcamps, which are typically taken by young adults who are switching careers, represent an important improvement in the overall mobility of our work force.  But they are still dominated by brick-and-mortar options which require students to drop everything, move across the country and pay up to $20k in tuition.  Boasting near-perfect hiring rates, these bootcamps have done great work in bringing outcome-accountable education back to the mainstream but still leave behind an enormous number of students who cannot commit to that experience.

In the online space, offerings have typically optimized for either scale or certification at the expense of student experience and job outcomes.  On the one hand are highly scaled and impersonal providers like the “MOOCs”[3], which are designed to cater to the highest possible number of students and which struggle with completion rates as low as 5%.  Online certification programs often mirror the failings of the 4-year degree system and have given the industry a black eye by focusing on predatory recruitment that’s fully divorced from student job outcomes.  

We believe that the missing piece in the rapidly evolving education market is to make high quality outcome-accountable education like that available via the in-person bootcamps more accessible by bringing it into the online space and removing the barriers to paying for it.

[1]: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/techhire 

[2]: https://www.coursereport.com/resources/course-report-bootcamp-market-size-study 

[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course 

Why Viking is Exciting

Current online programs optimize for scale over student experience and in-person alternatives suffer from problems of geography and affordability.  Our focus on highly collaborative and intensive online learning plus our innovative fee model allow us to be the first completely online software engineering program to truly guarantee graduates jobs.

This is particularly exciting for several reasons:

  1. We've turned the typical risk model for education on its head -- students are typically required to invest heavily up-front in their education with no guarantee of results.  We believe that educators should invest in their students and be accountable to their outcomes.
  2. We aren't just *talking* about student outcomes… we've literally bet our business on them via our deferred fee model.  We don’t succeed unless they do.
  3. We are making a world class technical education potentially accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
  4. We can bring top tech talent to engineer-starved companies anywhere in the country -- our massive geographical footprint gives us a unique ability to identify hidden talent and serve underserved job markets.
  5. We are disruptive to the exploding “coding bootcamp” industry, which is in turn disruptive to the trillion-dollar traditional education market.  Our quality/accessibility combination makes this kind of education for more broadly available than ever before.

We published a very successful blog post on Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard [1] which also helps show why this is such an important resource for students who are trying to learn coding.

[1]: http://www.vikingcodeschool.com/posts/why-learning-to-code-is-so-damn-hard 

Our Story

Founder Erik Trautman taught himself to code in 2012 using online resources but never felt like they got him far enough to be “employable,” so he joined one of the first high-intensity coding bootcamps in San Francisco.  He saw the life-changing power of preparing students for their first jobs in a career they actually enjoyed and was immediately hooked on trying to make that experience more widely available.

His work with tens of thousands of students of the Odin Project (http://www.theodinproject.com), his free web development curriculum, made it clear that existing in-person options weren’t accessible enough, but existing online options weren’t nearly rigorous enough to deliver a job.  Erik founded the Viking Code School in mid-2014 with the intention of filling that gap.  

We successfully pioneered our high-touch collaborative approach to teaching online during the part-time alpha in the fall and beta in 2014, which proved that our curriculum is at least as rigorous as anything out there and the online approach is effective.

Because we’re a mission-driven company, it wasn’t enough just to provide a top tier education online.  We wanted to remove every barrier possible and force our incentives to be 100% aligned with students, so we did something so crazy that our friends and family are still shaking their heads -- we decided to only charge students for the course when (or if) they get a job.

Meet the Founder

Erik Trautman is a mission-driven entrepreneur who is laser-focused on making life-changing education accessible worldwide.  He learned engineering at Penn but took a detour through Wall Street before leaving in 2012 to return to his roots building things and helping people.  

He clarified his mission to leverage technology in education during countless hours of philosophical thought on a 5-month, 20,000-mile motorcycle trip across 46 states [1] as part of his transition to life in the Bay Area.

Erik attended one of the first coding bootcamps in San Francisco, stuck around to help them grow their business, and engaged with alumni across the growing bootcamp community.  He started The Odin Project [2], a free online curriculum for learning web development, as the first step towards making high quality education accessible online.  The success of and feedback from that project spurred the creation of the Viking Code School in 2014, for which he is founder and CEO.

You can learn more about Erik on his website [3].

[1]: http://www.eriktrautman.com/posts?tag_filter=Motorcycle+Trip+2012 

[2]: http://theodinproject.com/ 

[3]: http://www.eriktrautman.com 

Appendix A: Comparison to Alternatives

Who do we actually compare to and how?  Which companies are in our space?

In-Person Programs

We are most similar to the “Coding Bootcamps”, which are typically 9-12 week intensive in-person coding and job placement programs.  These include programs like  Dev Bootcamp [1], Flatiron School [2], Hack Reactor [3], Launch Academy [4] and App Academy [5].  Our admissions process is as rigorously selective as theirs, our curriculum achieves similar goals, and our focus on outcomes and placement is similar… but we are 100% online.

A few programs, including Hack Reactor, have also started running online betas which take their in-person content and make it available online.

[1]: http://www.devbootcamp.com

[2]: http://flatironschool.com/ 

[3]: http://www.hackreactor.com/

[4]: http://www.launchacademy.com/

[5]: http://www.appacademy.io/ 

Online Programs

Fully automated learn-to-code products like Codecademy [1] or Code School [2] are well known but don’t come anywhere near the experience, depth, or outcome accountability we’re trying to achieve.  MOOC courses from Coursera [3], edX [4] or Udacity [5] tend to be offered in a far more piecemeal fashion and we don’t compare ourselves to them for the same reasons.

There are a few online programs which are making inroads to collaborative education but have not fully crossed the gap to outcome-accountability.  Thinkful [6], Bloc [7], and the Firehose Project [8] are mentor-based programs which pair students with a mentor (and possibly instructor) for one or more sessions per week around their curriculum.  

To compare, our focus is on a much deeper and high-touch (classroom-like) experience with our in-house instructors and near-constant support, which is what allows us to achieve the quality of outcomes that allow us to be outcome-accountable.

[1]: http://www.codecademy.com/

[2]: https://www.codeschool.com/ 

[3]: https://www.coursera.org/

[4]: https://www.edx.org/ 

[5]: https://www.udacity.com/ 

[1]: http://www.thinkful.com/ 

[2]: https://www.bloc.io/ 

[3]: http://www.thefirehoseproject.com/ 

Appendix B: Images

Founder images

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Site Logos (with words)

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Site Logos (images)

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Full-stack diagram

(created for our blog)