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Interview: Paal Ringstad, Le Wagon
07.Oct.2019 Interview

Interview: Paal Ringstad, Le Wagon

Being able to code has become one of the most sort after skills in the job market not only in Australia but across the world in recent years, and the need is only growing. Le Wagon was founded 5 years ago in Paris after seeing the opportunity to teach people coding outside of university. Many of their students already have careers and are looking to upskill, so Le Wagon offers intensive short courses (with the part time course launching soon). 

We had a chat to Melbourne’s Driver (Le Wagon’s version of a GM), Paal, about why he jumped onto the coding…wagon 😉

How has Le Wagon grown from a single operation in Paris to a global business?

After the success of the Paris business, they found that people who graduated from the bootcamp wanted to run the course in other locations because they enjoyed it so much. People were coming from all over the world to learn to code and so these digital nomads began to set up Le Wagon’s globally. It’s grown organically in that way and the Drivers are a collection of entrepreneurs and CTOs passionate about teaching and technology.

How did you get involved and why?

I previously wanted to come to Melbourne anyway because my brother was here, this opportunity arose and it all fell into place. I had a start-up in Paris where we were trying to disrupt the fashion modelling industry and through that experience I realised that we should’ve learnt how to code ourselves from the beginning, rather than employing someone else to do it for us. The power of coding and the doors it opens for you were really clear to me. 

What makes a good coder?

Your ability to problem solve, collaborate and to Google. The bootcamp revolves a lot around this – learning how to learn, having an objective and understanding the steps you need to take to get there. Once you wrap your head around this process, it becomes a bit of a game and it’s really enjoyable. 

Who tends to join your bootcamps?

Our students are very diverse and a lot of them have no previous tech or coding background at all – just a lot of motivation. We take on people starting from absolute scratch and a lot of these students often want to transition into development work as there is so much opportunity in this industry now. The market is a little different in Europe though, where we find a lot of the students have no desire to change industry but are looking to upskill, complimenting the role they’re currently in. I’m a strong believer in always needing to upskill and continue learning. We therefore opened our part-time Bootcamp for those who want to learn how to code while working full-time. 

What has been the hardest part of business ownership so far?

Coming to a country where no-one has heard of the brand is a very difficult thing to do. Globally, Le Wagon well known to be the best coding bootcamp in the world with a lot of trust associated to the name. In Melbourne though, it was very much starting from scratch. Building up brand awareness and visibility has been a real challenge and obviously starting a business in a new foreign country (foreign to me) was never going to be an easy task!

Can you give other entrepreneurs some advice?

Don’t give up. Long term vision is very important and you need to consistently provide a great experience. Over time, it will grow! I’d also say, take the time to learn the culture of wherever you’re starting the business before making any stupid decisions. Also, don’t compare yourself to other people. 

What do you love about Le Wagon and your role?

The level of coding we’re able to get people to within the 9 week period is incredibly satisfying. I’m passionate about education and changing what that looks like. Teaching and understanding behaviours behind learning, and how different minds work, is a joy for me. 

Why RBK?

RBK was a referral and I loved the genuine, modern vibe and the business values. They make things easy for us and have been very proactive and problem solving which I really appreciate. They’ve made sure everything was compliant which has been particularly important as a foreigner as it varies so much country to country. 

If you’re interested in learning how to code, or potentially upskilling your employees, you can see more on Le Wagon here. Otherwise, give them a follow on socials. 

 

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