NWA Business Journal Publishes Article on Nerdies and Blur State

Great article in the most recent edition of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal about Nerdies and the launch of Blur State. In order to read the article on-line you have to have a subscription but with permission from the Journal we have posted the article in its entirety below. 


Nerdies Planning Launch of NWA Coding Boot Camp

by Jennifer Joyner, NWA Business Journal

Nerdies founder Brad Harvey hopes to solve two issues in one move through his latest venture, a coding boot camp called Blur State.

“There is a shortage of qualified computer programming talent across the area,” said Harvey, who calls himself the “head nerd in charge” at Fayetteville-based education company Nerdies. “Companies are struggling to find and hire the right kind of coding talent they need to run their businesses.

“Also, people looking to find employment or enter into this field struggle to find affordable, relevant training just simply to get them in the door,” Harvey said.

His solution is a company that produces adult-level intensive computer programming boot camps, developed with input from local partner companies.

By working side-by-side with local companies in need of coding talent, Harvey plans to tailor the camps to the needs of the Northwest Arkansas job climate at that time. It’s his goal that students coming out of the program have the necessary skills to potentially step right into a new job — with an entry-level pay that is higher than average — immediately after.

Harvey co-founded the venture with Justin Hill, also director of development at mobile research firm Field Agent in Fayetteville.

Blur State sessions will generally run 12 to 15 weeks, with two or three night classes per week. The cost has not yet been announced, but Harvey said he is working on solutions that will make camps dramatically cheaper than similar programs throughout the country, which can run as high as $21,000, according to Course Report, an online coding boot camp directory and review site.

While coding boot camps have been springing up throughout the country for several years, Blur State is one of the first, if not the first, of its kind in Northwest Arkansas.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” said Meredith Lowry, attorney at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP.

Lowry, along with Currant Technology Group founding partner Sarah Daigle, taught a coding class for elementary- and middle-school-aged children in December, and she said the classes were very well-attended.

“Coding is popular right now, especially with kids,” Lowry said. “I think the popularity is spilling over into the parents now. They’re wanting to learn just as much as their kids and they see the benefit to learning a useful skill. A good number of startup companies these days rely on technology and this works into the entrepreneur movement we’re seeing currently.”

According to Course Report and a June 7 Bloomberg Business article, graduates of such computer coding boot camps will more than double nationwide this year, boasting more than 16,000 graduates, compared to 6,740 in 2014 — while computer-related jobs also are expected to soar during the next few years.

And Harvey believes his decision to work with partner companies — combining job placement and workforce development with the learning piece — is an approach that has not yet been used in coding camps.

 “If we can work with companies across the region to produce quality job candidates, reduce the barriers of job entry for those students and get them into a new higher paying job with tremendous upside potential, we feel like we have won and have made a very positive contribution to the region and our students,” Harvey said.

Blur State is now taking candidate applications.

Announced partner companies include Engwit, RevUnit, Field Agent, BLKBoxLabs and corporate recruiting firm Cameron Smith & Associates Inc. of Rogers.

When Harvey approached Cameron Smith, president, to gauge his interest in the idea, “It was a no-brainer,” Smith said. “I thought it was brilliant and timely.”

Smith said, as a major recruiter for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its suppliers, he hears every week from companies needing coding talent.

Nerdies is an alternative learning company, founded in June 2014, that offers classes in subjects for children and young adults in subjects that include design, robotics, video game and mobile app development, photography and filmmaking. 

During the past year, Nerdies has also launched subsidiaries that include Arties (focused on learning in creative industries), the Nerdies Gaming Studio, Adult Learning and Computer Repair.  

David KerseyComment