In February 2017 we were lucky enough to get a visit from Miha Fabjan, CEO and co-founder at SmartNinja coding school. On his trip traveling all over Europe, he stopped by in Málaga and spent one month at The Living Room. In the following interview Miha tells us how SmartNinja coding school spreads coding skills all over the place and why he trusts in Málaga and The Living Room to offer their courses too.
1. Miha, tell us a bit about yourself both professionally and privately?
I am CEO and co-founder at SmartNinja coding school. As with working in any young company my daily tasks vary from management to sales and marketing and everything that comes around that. My background is in business and management and for the last 5 years I’ve been involved in the startup scene.
Personally I like to see myself as a good and positive person who loves what he is doing. This year I decided to travel and work – a modern term for this is “workation”. 🙂 The whole team at SmartNinja is remote so this works really well for us. In January I moved to Spain during the winter months in central Europe. After that I spend one month Lisbon, Portugal and now I am in Berlin. Traveling and working at the same time was some kind of a life changing experience for me. You grow a lot personally and it’s great for building up a network of amazing people that you meet along the way. I love it.
2. Why did you start SmartNinja coding school?
The idea of SmartNinja was developed out of a side project that we did in Novo Mesto, Slovenia back in summer 2014. At that time a lot of people approached Matej Ramuta (co-founder) to help them learn how to code.
This is why we decided to do a summer coding week and we had people visiting us from all over the country. A couple of months later me and Matej decided to launch SmartNinja. A company that will teach people modern IT skills and help them get an IT job. The reaction from companies and students was amazing. We had more that 300 students in the first year and a lot of great IT companies supported us.
3. SmartNinja coding school is already present in Austria and Croatia. What are the results so far in both countries, and how big are the teams behind SmartNinja?
After a successful first year in Slovenia we decided to expand to Vienna, Austria. Me and Matej both moved there for 5 months where we successfully launched SmartNinja Austria. It was an amazing experience for us – we met a lot of great people there and we helped many make their first steps in the coding world.
SmartNinja is now a team of 10 amazing people who make sure that everything is running smoothly. We have more than 40 instructors who teach our courses and just a couple of months ago we reached the number of 1000 SmartNinjas that visited our courses.
A couple of months ago we also expanded to Croatia, where we are starting our first courses in May 2017. Feedback from the market was amazing. Almost all courses are already sold-out.
4. Who are SmartNinja students? What is their motivation to learn programming? Are they in their 20s, 30s, … ?
We offer different courses. Our most popular one is the Web Development 1 course that takes 3 months. It is suitable for total beginners who want to start a career in IT. After the course the best students can attend the Web Development 2 course and after they finish we connect them directly to IT companies, where they can get an internship. These are usually people in their mid 20s, who didn’t study computer science, but later decided to try out coding and IT.
SmartNinja courses are also a great fit for people who already have a (non-coding) job and just want to learn new skills or add coding to their list of skills. Usually these are project managers, marketing specialists, or HR people, who are dealing with IT departments a lot. Also graphic designers are very common at our courses.
Courses usually occur two times a week in the afternoon and are taught by experienced instructors. The Course itself is intense, but with good will you can attend the course even if you have a full time job or you are still studying, which in fact is the case for many of our students.
5. Can you share any positive experiences of SmartNinja students, who successfully changed careers?
One of the most inspiring stories is the one by Iztok from Celje. Before attending our Web Development course, he was a professional football player playing in the First League, but at the age of 23 he injured his knee and his football career was over. He had to think about what to do next in life. He decided to go to our Web Development 1 course, where he discovered his passion for coding and ability to solve problems. After the course he first got an internship and later on a full time junior developer position in a Slovenian IT company.
There are many other success stories by our students, mostly from people who couldn’t get a job with the formal education they had, so they decided to pick up a new skill, coding, which is transforming every aspect of the modern society. In today’s world diplomas don’t matter, practical skills do.
6. In summer 2017 there will be first SmartNinja courses in Malaga, Spain. Why did you choose Malaga and The Living Room Coworking as a partner?
Spain has a fast growing IT sector, which in turn needs more and more developers. Also we strongly believe there are a lot of talented people in Spain, who could become programmers – as long as they try it out. SmartNinja will pick up this talent and teach them the right IT skills companies are looking for.
We partnered with The Living Room, which we believe is the best partner to start a SmartNinja coding school in Malaga. After spending one month myself at The Living Room we know that they have many direct contacts with the industry and a lot of experience in organizing events. We believe that together we can build the biggest coding school in Malaga producing the best talent for the best IT companies.
7. How do you see SmartNinja coding school in the future?
SmartNinja has come a long way since we started two years ago in 2015. We now have a strong team and partners, amazing instructors and the best courses. Our plan is to offer our courses to as many people as possible. In 2017 we will open 10 new locations around Europe. SmartNinja will become the biggest coding school in Europe by the end of 2018. What happens next, we will see. 🙂
Miha Fabjan is CEO and co-founder at SmartNinja coding school. His background is in business and management and for the last 5 years he’s been involved in the startup scene. On his way traveling Europe, he stopped by in Málaga and spent one month at The Living Room. This has led to SmartNinja courses being offered in Málaga from summer 2017.