Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ryan Desmond, Co-Founder of CodingNomads, located in Lake Tahoe, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

CodingNomads is a software engineering training company that helps people transition into rewarding technical careers. Learning to code empowers anyone, anywhere, to participate in a massive global market for tech skills. This increases economic opportunity and geographic mobility. Our job is to help people improve their skills to improve their lives.

Our customers are individuals who want to augment their current careers or change careers completely, businesses that want to upskill their employees, and educational institutions that license our training content for their student base.

Tell us about yourself

In my early 20s, I spent time traveling abroad and dreamed of having a career that would pay well and allow me to work remotely so I could keep traveling. So I got a Computer Science degree and began my software engineering career in San Francisco, working my way up to a Solutions Architect role where I trained other engineers. Realizing my love for teaching but desire to go out on my own, I quit my job to travel with my wife Kim, and together we co-founded CodingNomads.

In the beginning, we taught intensive “coding boot camps” in travel destinations, which was a fun way to get students out of their normal routine to learn coding and have fun doing it. After COVID, we took all operations online and have expanded our curriculum to teach advanced Java, Python, and Data Science courses.

I’m constantly motivated by the breakthrough moments students experience in our programs and celebrating their wins together. Seeing students come in as complete beginners to coding, then graduate and get jobs as professional software engineers is extremely rewarding. We’ve been in business for five years as of writing this and have seen alumni continue advancing into senior engineering roles in careers that they love. I’m driven by having a positive impact on people’s lives, and I feel very fortunate that I get to see that impact every day with our students and alumni.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In addition to simply surviving as a bootstrapped business, my biggest accomplishment is creating a gateway for people to improve their lives. There is a lot that goes into that. Overseeing the curriculum development and making sure it is relevant to today’s jobs and enjoyable for the students. Finding passionate instructors, mentors, and team members to assist students on their journey. Helping students navigate the job search and land their first technical job. Hearing from our alumni that they are making great money and enjoying their careers more than ever. Knowing that we have helped change people’s lives for the better is the biggest accomplishment I could have ever dreamed of in this business and my life overall.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Surviving :) My partner and I have thus far decided against taking investor money and have kept our course prices much lower than our peers. This has been challenging financially. But by continuing to be our own bosses, we can stay true to our core value for affordable education, and our students certainly appreciate it!

On the flip side, being your own boss also comes with challenges. When you work for someone else, you’re never the last line of defense. There’s always someone else that is more responsible for the business at the end of the day. When it’s your business, you are very often both the first and last line of defense. If something goes wrong, a client is unhappy, or a system breaks, it’s on you. It can be overwhelming at times. Learning to cope with and healthily manage that responsibility and stress are sometimes difficult. To keep the balance, we take breaks when needed and remind ourselves how much we love the freedom of being our own boss.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start. There will always be a reason to delay, something you need to do first, imposter syndrome, etc. But the sooner you start, the sooner you can be the boss of your own reality.
  2. Perfection is not the goal. Attempt, iterate, and improve - that is the goal. Failure can be our biggest teacher. So don’t be afraid to be less than perfect, and don’t be afraid to fail.
  3. Survive. No matter what it takes. Over time, the simple act of survival, and the compounding result of sustained effort over time, will inevitably lead to success.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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