Always focus on customer success. Without it, you do not have a service or product. If you lose touch by focusing on other things (marketing, growth, etc.) your business will fail 100% of the time.

 

Richard Wang is a results-driven entrepreneur and CEO of leading national bootcamp Coding Dojo, the only coding bootcamp in the world to teach three full technology stacks in a single 14-week program. He has verifiable year-after-year success achieving revenue, profit, and business growth objectives within start-up, turnaround, and rapid-change environments.

He has led and motivated international and nationwide teams in large corporate organizations with $11B budget and start-up environments comprised of more than 100 employees, where he grew revenue 10X and increased enterprise value 20X within 2.5 years.

Richard is passionate about transforming lives through computer programming literacy. He believes that coding skills are crucial to upward economic mobility in the new technological age and to revamp local economies. As CEO of Coding Dojo, he focuses on the long-term growth of the company and large-scale business development initiatives.

Where did the idea for Coding Dojo come from?

It started with the realization that there was a huge demand for developers and traditional four-year programs simply weren’t keeping up with the demand. Plus, not everyone has four years and $50K+ to learn computer science. Co-founder Michael Choi created a curriculum that can teach anyone to code, regardless of technical background. We found success early due to the west coast tech industry because our first two campuses were in San Jose and Seattle.

From there, it’s expanded and we’ve trained people from all walks of life, from high school graduates seeking alternative education routes, to baby boomers restarting careers and everything in between. We’re now in 10 cities, plus offer a part-time and full-time online option.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I get into the office around 7am and leave around 6pm. I try to block out at least an hour and a half each morning to dive-deep into projects I’m working on, then typically have operational meetings from late morning to early afternoon.

I keep my calendar and inbox very organized to stay productive. Additionally, I expect all staff to come to meeting prepared with a clear-cut agenda so we can keep everything focused and on schedule.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Business is about creating, capturing, and delivering value. Every single business should focus on those three things and any new idea needs to address one of those aspects. Once you have an idea, it’s only an assumption or hypothesis that it’ll do one of those things. So you need to verify the idea and check if the reality of the matter meets your assumption. You do this my talking to customers and creating an MVP to test the product or service. Based on feedback, you can then tweak the idea to continue verification until it’s in a state that you’re confident in.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The shift in thinking about coding and who can be a developer. It used to be only for techies or geeks, and now it’s becoming the future of blue collar work. With the impending rise of automation, AI, and machine learning, coding knowledge will be crucial to success in the future. This trend hits home for me as I had a similar experience when I immigrated to the US as a child. I quickly realized that learning English was the ticket to a better career and life, and I see parallels to how coding skills can lead to a better life in America now.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Always focusing on key metrics of the business. You need to really understand what will drive impact and concentrate on improving whatever that is. When you adopt this mindset, you’ll find yourself a lot less distracted by things that don’t matter as much in the grand scheme of things.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Things always take longer than you expect – be patient.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Ideas are only 10% of the equation, the remaining 90% is execution. You can have the most revolutionary idea, but it won’t matter if you can’t make it a reality. You often see this play out with — they have a great idea that will bring value to their customers, and then the company gets mismanaged into the ground. While people may agree with this concept, the amount of money pouring into start-ups without proper leadership seems to tell a different story…

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Exercise. It doesn’t matter how busy your schedule gets, always set time aside to take care of your body and your brain will thank you for it. Some of my best thinking and planning happens while I’m at the gym. It helps me block out things that don’t matter and think clearly about what needs to get done.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Always focus on customer success. Without it, you do not have a service or product. If you lose touch by focusing on other things (marketing, growth, etc.) your business will fail 100% of the time.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

A few years back, we went into a hyper-growth phase. Instead of managing growth, growth was managing us and it put us in a cash-tight situation. We overcame it by slowing things down, pacing recruitment, and managing expenses in a more organized way.

On a related note, never, ever, ever hire cheap accountants and general counsels/lawyers.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An on-demand chef service to come cook 5-star meals at your house.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

As odd as it sounds, I bought a metal straw and I love it. It’s reusable, so it cuts down plastic usage, and it gets cold with cold drinks which adds to the refreshment. It wasn’t $100, but it was definitely my favorite recent purchase.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use Active Inbox to keep my emails organized and my headspace clear. It also helps me remember to follow up on emails I sent and keeps important emails at the top of my inbox so I remember to reply by the end of the day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Jump-Starting America by Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson. It provides a thought-provoking look at the current U.S. economy, what went wrong, and how we can fix it. One core focus is empowering communities by building tech and economic hubs outside of the typical “superstar cities,” which is in-line with our mission at Coding Dojo.

What is your favorite quote?

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Key Learnings:

  • Block out your time to keep your day organized and on-track
  • Exercise! Your body will thank you and it’ll keep your head clear
  • Coding is the future of blue and white collar work
  • We must empower economies in smaller communities via tech hubs
  • Stay focused on your customers and capturing, creating, and delivering value to them

Connect:

https://www.codingdojo.com/
https://twitter.com/CodingDojoDotCo
https://www.facebook.com/CodingDojodotco/