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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Web Development Bootcamp Hack Reactor Part 1 - The Human Factor

The Human Factor Visualization

Students vs Staff, a sweet #

Does any one remember an old stat? Student-faculty-ratio? Time to think about that for our dear bootcamps, on which I have been writing about for the part year. As you know, Hack Reactor invited me for a day of unpaid research on-site.

This is a series of data-processing posts resolving mostly around qualitative data, that will eventually arrive at a video conclusion -  a review about Hack Reactor. 

And the first question that everyone asks: why is Hack Reactor so expensive? Last I checked early Feb? $12K, then $15K, now it is $17K and going at $18K. My posts must answer this question. Why? Readers are asking! And this is my hobby. My previous life as an Economist, pseudo, at Stanford hasn't faded, yet.

I was impressed!

I did arrive disappointed: yikes, demo day, INTERVIEW DAY! What is there to see but a show? I was ready to leave, yet I turned out to be super impressed...

It was interview day, few students have arrived at the normal hours - 9AM, may be 4? or 8 by 10AM. Yet the staff tables are filled. Though the most senior ones have yet arrived, there are at least 8 staff in front of their laptops. That's a lot of staff. Some setting up flowers, name tags for tables, cleaning up, and some just doing something at the screens ... the office space is beautiful, spacious, and very well organized.

I mentioned that to Tony, the founder, whose brother is the co-founder. The brother Marcus is a Twitter guy, and two other staff also has Twitter connection.  Tony casually confirmed that they make a huge commitment on the staff, but for me that was an understatement. After seeing other bootcamps, I realized immediately that the experience, stamina, and availabilities of staff here is unparalleled. Only Hackbright can attract a somewhat similar level of mentorship from real Silicon Valley programmers, because of the great cause and dedication of growing young female engineers. But mentorship and paid instructions aren't the same. 

Azat, another instructor, currently working at Storify is an experienced engineer who worked on mission critical features for the famous startup and also is an accomplished author Rapid Prototyping with JS.  Tony, himself is a self-made programmer, first in PHP, then Ruby and now JavaScript. He pointed out that Hack Reactor also houses authors of Angular JS, Marcus - internal training and rampup at Twitter.

The name brands of the instructors previous lives are staggering too: Walmart Labs, OKCupid Labs, Twitter, Adobe, Mozilla, Storify.  And Tony really deserves a separate post on his vision and management.

In this original Infographics - the Human Factor, I show the maximum number of students 25, surrounded by an estimate of staffs. 26 on payroll, that is 17 instructors 9 supporting staff! Wow!

These numbers will change, and now they are rough estimates. But surely enough, it was proportional to what I have seen even on the relatively quite demo day. Hiring real programmers with real legit Silicon Valley experiences, should definitely be a factor that sets Hack Reactor far apart from any existing Bootcamps, even the might Dev Bootcamp.

That being said, Tony has informed me that there was more than just staff. When he first answered my question about the price tag, it wasn't about staff yet. He has more to say. I shall cover that in my next post.

I know the staff is capable before I arrived. But what surprised me was the number - it is large. And the other WOW WOW factor: there's an inhouse online system that allows students to click on the office chart, indicate which table they are working at and that they need help. If the help they need isn't delivered right away, the screen will blink red, and just a few more minutes away, Tony's phone will ring! Wow.

Read the next related post : Part 2


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