Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 271. Today we’ll be talking to Randy from Codeboxx Digital Solutions about the use case or business case for why his customers choose Codeboxx.
Codeboxx helps your technology platform become more effective in addressing your company’s complex business needs.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.
Show length: 26 minutes
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Welcome to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case podcast. A show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen, when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment in HR Tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup (00:26):
Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Randy on from CodeBoxx and we’ll be learning about the business case, or use case, for why his prospects and customers use CodeBoxx. Randy, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and CodeBoxx?
Randy Rosenthal (00:43):
Absolutely. Well, hey, William. Thanks a lot for having me on.
William Tincup (00:49):
Randy Rosenthal (00:49):
Yeah. My name is Randy Rosenthal and I am with CodeBoxx, that’s C-O-D-E-B-O-X, and there’s an extra X in the CodeBoxx.biz, and I work with CodeBoxx as a, I guess you’d say, chief marketing officer, but really as sort of an advisor to the business in general. My background is, I have completely failed at retirement for 25 years. I totally failed.
William Tincup (01:25):
If you’re going to fail at something, Randy, that’s a good thing to fail at right there. I love that. That is a quote. “I have completely failed at this.”
Randy Rosenthal (01:35):
I thought that I had achieved what I wanted to. As an accidental entrepreneur, I’ve been a filmmaker and a storyteller my whole life, and then somehow found myself founding and growing a global marketing, sales, leadership management development consultancy, and worked with global healthcare companies. But there was an inverse relationship between profit and joy. And so I happily sold that business, loved the owners. I still have a stake in that business. And then I went on to do other things and worked in philanthropy for a while, went back to filmmaking. And then a friend of mine who I met through philanthropy, and he’s sort of like a big guy in finance, I didn’t even know this when we became friends, I met him for coffee and he said, “Oh, guess what? I’m, I’m the CEO of this company.” I said, “What?” He said, “Yeah, I invested and then I wanted a board seat and they wanted to make me chairman of the board. And then I became CEO.” And then after this coffee, somehow I had agreed to become their CMO. Because it’s got a great story.
William Tincup (02:49):
This is what happens. You go to coffee, you go to breakfast, you have coffee, you get a bagel, and then now you have a new job.
Randy Rosenthal (02:56):
It’s the truth. If you’re listening out there, if you want things to happen in your life, get out there in the world.
William Tincup (03:02):
Randy Rosenthal (03:04):
It will never happen behind your computer.
William Tincup (03:06):
Randy Rosenthal (03:06):
I mean, things will happen, but all the magic is out in the world. IRL. Seriously.
William Tincup (03:13):
Randy Rosenthal (03:15):
So anyway, that’s a little bit about me. And CodeBoxx, the reason that I walked away from this coffee committing, and I didn’t know what I’d gotten myself into, but it was fascinating, is because it really spoke to my heart as someone that had worked in technology. I had a tech-based kind of consultancy, and yet one of the first things that my partner, when we sold the business, is start a social enterprise for digital detox and helping people get a better relationship with their devices and start communicating analog. And so why would I go into a tech company?
Because this company has a vision for, basically for a world where it is not dystopic. Basically, this is an antidote to the robots taking over. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I’m just throwing it out there. CodeBoxx, if you went to their website, you wouldn’t know. You’d say, “Oh, this looks like a coding bootcamp.” Or if you went through another door, you’d say, “This looks like a software consultancy.” And if you went through another door you’d say, “Oh, this looks like some kind of venture partnership for startups.” Well, the truth is, it’s all of those things. CodeBoxx is actually turning the tech world on its head. In a world of increasing fragmentation, CodeBoxx has created, almost accidentally themselves, it’s a startup based in Canada, an end to end system where on one end we are recruiting the most diverse and resilient talent, training them to become technologists, full stack developers, and other technologists through what looks like a coding bootcamp, although it’s more than that. And then what do you do when you’ve got the skills to make things? You make things.
And so we have a Boxx solutions, which is a software consultancy where we make things, but we also hire our graduates into it and give them additional training. And then we also, what do you do when you can make things? You can make things for other people, or you can make things happen. And we have a ventures group, which mines great ideas from our student base and other places, anyone that’s got a great idea. And if it’s something that jives with our mission and our vision for the future, and it’s something that we could help with, and we very may well invest in that and become a venture partner. So have you ever heard anything like this before?
William Tincup (05:58):
I have not. No. In fact, the only closest thing, and it’s not even close, is actually a venture firm in Stockholm that has its own studio of, really it’s a development team. And so they have their own development team and so they bring in entrepreneurs, crank out ideas, and then if they like the ideas, then they kick it over to engineering, and engineering goes and builds it. And then they go and reverse out and go get the executives or the founders, and then they go take it to market. But that’s not as close. And they have a fund. So they put money into the plays, the ideas that they like. So it’s kind of a meritocracy based, if you like an idea, everyone agrees at the table, everyone agrees, this is a great idea. Great. Okay, let’s go get it built. Great. Done. That goes, takes its own life.
Randy Rosenthal (06:55):
Well, let’s go ahead and the name of that firm. Do you know? Do you remember?
William Tincup (07:00):
Future Work Ventures.
Randy Rosenthal (07:02):
Future Work Ventures. So hello, Future Work Ventures friends, if you are listening, call me. [email protected], because maybe we should talk. I love what they’re doing and I love that idea. And yet the key thing that is, we’re not going to call it a differentiator, it really just starts with people. So it starts with, really, people looking for jobs and looking for a different life. And that’s really, the school is the heart, the academy is the heart of our business. That’s what’s near and dear to my heart and why I’m here. Yeah.
William Tincup (07:45):
Well, just a quick question on that. With the students or the folks that are associated, how many of them are going through this as a means of retraining? Meaning maybe they don’t have a technical background, per se, or they have a little bit of a technical background, but it’s a way for them to go deeper and learn something so that they can really set themselves up with different skills for the future?
Randy Rosenthal (08:11):
Yeah. Well, most of our students, most of our learners, are actually not technologists.
William Tincup (08:21):
Oh wow, Okay.
Randy Rosenthal (08:25):
Well, first of all, we believe that smart’s everywhere, right?
William Tincup (08:29):
Randy Rosenthal (08:29):
And there is a huge tech shortage, tech talent shortage. Everyone knows that. If you’re a recruiter, if you’re a company and you’re hiring tech, you know this. And so what does that mean? Usually employers are telling us they have to pay more and get less. And in some of our, I don’t like to mentioned names, but some of our partners that are very large companies, they recruit typically four year CS grads. And then when they bring them in, they have to retrain them all over again in an advanced developer program. So what our sweet spot is, there are people out there that are really smart, they know that, well, there’s a signal for them. Their surroundings, do not match who they believe they are in their mind. And they know they want a different life, they want a different way. And they’ve probably have done really hard things in the past.
And that is the person that we are reaching out to. And they’re everywhere. They’re in every community. And that’s why we don’t have to lead with diversity and inclusion. That just happens, because the coder bros are drying up. And besides, there’s nothing about banging away with [inaudible 00:09:48] in music on keyboards with coffee and other stimulants all day long. That’s not what a software developer is. That just happens to be the group that got into this first and early. But that group is drying up, and the world needs more diverse voices. And so instead of trying to just look for particular background types, all we have to do is say, look for people that have grit, resilience, they’ve usually already done things that are hard. They could be moms. I’m going to give you an example, William, I’m going to put this into real world and I’ll mention his name. His name is Abdul.
And when I first got to CodeBoxx, we were about three, four weeks away from graduating a cohort of brand new software developers. And there was this very elegant, well-spoken instructor that I got to know. And we would talk philosophically. Two weeks before graduation, we got word that he was leaving because he got a great job offer, paying more money, more benefits. And you know what we did? We threw him a party. We threw him a party because that’s exactly what we’re here for. And this is what was amazing. What I didn’t know, 18 months ago, Abdul was doing Uber. Uber Eats.
William Tincup (11:09):
Randy Rosenthal (11:11):
He had graduated from McDonald’s to Uber Eats, knew that he saw a different life for himself, but he wasn’t sure how to get there. So he started fooling around with YouTube and learning coding. But then he went through our 16 week program, graduated, we hired him into our solutions groups, and now he’s making … I don’t know exactly what he was making, but I know we don’t hire anybody under $50,000. And then within several months, he had progressed so much that he was working with senior developers on accounts with names that every one of the listeners would know. I’ll just say maybe it’s an online marketplace, maybe for auction, that has been globally, but I won’t say their name. And then he wanted to give back after a year, taught a cohort for 16 weeks, and then moved on to another great paying job with lots of room. That is transformation, that is solving income inequality and generational poverty in lightning time.
But it’s not what we are doing. It’s the person, it’s the human being, and all we’re doing is we are nurturing that person, which is why when we chatted before, we were talking about soft skills, or what they call soft skills, and why that’s so important for employers. But that’s really what we focus on. It’s not just the amazing curriculum that we have, because it’s not stack knowledge that’s going to make these folks successful. That is not what made Abdul. It’s because of these personal human traits, leadership traits, resilience, perseverance, openness, collaboration. And that’s what will make him an incredible employee wherever he goes. Anyway, so sorry for the rant.
William Tincup (13:09):
No, no, no. I’ve got two questions. One is take us into the 16 week curriculum, the program, and then on the second side, tell us how recruiters kind of interact with the graduates.
Randy Rosenthal (13:22):
Absolutely. Well, we do have a partner program, by the way, and that’s for recruiters or people that are hiring. We, if we’re willing to graduate someone from our program we should be willing to hire them ourselves. However, it is part of our business model and our mission, to be able to place people. And so we do have programs where employers will come to us and [inaudible 00:13:54] them even increased access to candidates where they could learn about them even through their development process. That’s one way that recruiters and hires can work with us.
We have a very solid core program for full stack and mobile. And we’ve got other programs in development and that we’re working on right now. But that one, we have customized and white labeled for custom academies for large employers. Extremely successful, not just for new hires, but also for up training and retraining current employees. Say, maybe help desk employees are getting stuck at a ceiling, but we know that there’s 10% of that group which are rock stars. Now, they could either falter, they could leave, which would be terrible, or we could retrain them and they could become very loyal employees. So that was part of your question. And then the other is the curriculum.
William Tincup (14:56):
Randy Rosenthal (14:57):
Our curriculum puts almost no emphasis on lecture. It is a real world simulation from day one.
William Tincup (15:06):
Oh, that’s fantastic.
Randy Rosenthal (15:06):
On day one.
William Tincup (15:06):
Randy Rosenthal (15:07):
And people are, when they come in, the first two weeks is intensive and we call that our genesis two weeks. It’s a bit of a self selection to see if this is what people want to do. It’s pretty intense. This is not an easy program, but you start right away working on rocket elevators, and then you’ve got clients and you’ve got things you need to do, and you’ve got teammates, which would be coworkers that you need to engage with. And so all the dynamics that you would have in a real world employment situation are present with us from day one.
William Tincup (15:47):
So, dumb question, but need to ask it anyhow.
Randy Rosenthal (15:51):
William Tincup (15:51):
I’m assuming this is remote. People can be anywhere in the world.
Randy Rosenthal (15:56):
Yes. Well, right now we’ve got three campuses. Two in Quebec, one in Quebec City, one in Montreal, and then one in beautiful Sunny St. Petersburg, Florida, which is where I am now. We moved our headquarters here. You can’t see this, but I’m in the beautiful office of Ron Kishen, who is the Director of Schools who had stood up almost a million online students for other people. And we are just about to launch our online asynchronous and hybrid offerings that will still have the same kinds of qualities of our intense in-person workshop. But right now, and you can get information about that and we’ll be starting our next cohort in about two months. We’ll be launching some of those softly. So yes, you could be anywhere in the world. You could be anywhere in the world and become part of our community too.
William Tincup (16:55):
Randy Rosenthal (16:55):
Because like I said in the beginning, William, I failed at retirement. I don’t know how to say this. I am not super wealthy, but I don’t need a job, if you get what I’m saying.
William Tincup (17:12):
Randy Rosenthal (17:13):
I am here because I said I did my farewell tour and I said, I just want to use my powers for good. And when my friend Irv Cohen, who’s the CEO of this company, said to me, “We’re here to transform lives.” I believed him because we worked in philanthropy for six, seven years together before that, and that’s what we do. But I’m not leading with that because, and people don’t necessarily want to be transformed. They want to transform themselves. But that’s why I’m here. I don’t know if that answered that question.
William Tincup (17:46):
It absolutely answered it because it got to the heart of you could be doing anything and you chose to actually help move this forward. And first of all, I love the mission of CodeBoxx because you’re helping people that might … Some people come, they know they want it. They just know. My son knows he wants to be a weapons engineer, always has. So he is 16 years old and he knows. Some people were wired that way. I have a niece that’s almost 30, she still doesn’t know, necessarily, what she really wants to do in life. And I think that’s true of most of the world. Some people just know, I’m really good at this, gifted at this, I already like this. And some people are like, I need to dabble. I need to try some things. And this is, what I love about CodeBoxx is, especially in that first two weeks, if they don’t like that, then that’s a great way to go, you know what? This isn’t for me. This is isn’t for me. But if they make it all the way through 16 weeks, they’re on a different trajectory in life.
Randy Rosenthal (19:01):
They are. Well, you really don’t even have to go through the entire 16 weeks because of who we are. I’ll give you another example. Fortunately we are getting to the place where we are nurturing our inbound learners enough so that they’re not dropping out because they can’t understand what we’re doing. I mean, that’s good news. However, one of our more promising students who was a nurse dropped out after the first week because he said, “You know what? I love everything about this. I can’t see myself sitting at a computer for several hours every single day.” I said, “Well, that’s kind of the job. So that’s okay.” So we’ve got this thing, I mean, it is a program, but it’s actually, would you believe, we call it CodeBoxx for life. And it’s almost like the mafia. Once you get in, you can’t get out.
But it’s that we’ll stay with you all the way. All the way through your learning, through your first job, basically you have access forever. And so this one person, this nurse, he dropped out after the first week, but we’ve maintained a relationship with him and are helping him in other ways, and he’s helping us. There’s other things that all businesses need, that all organizations need. And what everyone needs is they need people that care that give a blank. That’s really, that give a blank. And when you find somebody, especially our people, because the nature of your, quote unquote, bootcamp person, they’re a little bit older, right? They’re not 18. They might be in their mid twenties to mid forties, but I would say a sweet spot is in the late twenties, early thirties. They’ve been through some stuff. And they’re hard to find, and these are going to be the best employees. We’re looking at moms right now, right? We’re looking and saying moms, because talk about what a hard job that is, right?
William Tincup (21:15):
Oh yeah. Oh, I had a friend back in the early aughts that built an RPO business with moms in Israel, actually, and it was a call center environment. And so he’d set up the entire technology to where it would just ring people that were available. So if moms were out doing whatever needed to be done, then it wouldn’t ring them. But if it ringed them, then they were available, then they could triage and answer the question. And he built that up to a 30 million dollar company. And literally that was his entire strategy was moms because, moms and dads, let’s cross over, parents, right?
Randy Rosenthal (22:02):
William Tincup (22:02):
So it’s like you’ve got to have a super flexible schedule, especially when you have really young kids. Your schedule’s got to be really, really flexible. And so he built an entire business around it. So first of all, I love that because, again, it kind of gets to a bunch of other issues, kind of social issues that kind of fly around, around gender pay or gender equity and pay equity and things like that. It’s like, well, this is a way for men and women to change directions at a time when maybe they’re not working full time. They actually, managing kids is working full time.
Randy Rosenthal (22:43):
Well, that’s right. And that’s why our asynchronous online learning and our hybrid options …
William Tincup (22:51):
Yeah. That’s cool.
Randy Rosenthal (22:53):
That’s the key, because it’s like about accessibility. Yeah, it’s about accessibility. I will, because I know that our time is coming up short, there was something, I was thinking about the people that might be listening to this [inaudible 00:23:07] pitching my company, although please go to CodeBoxx.biz and check it out. I wanted to share something, because in my previous life leading this global consulting company, I worked with mostly Fortune 100 companies. And this is the craziest thing that I noticed. We sold a lot, and we did a lot of very impactful leadership training, and leadership and management development. I’m talking leadership training. We were very expensive offerings, value based pricing, everybody. But it’s crazy. They’re offered only to the top employees in a company.
That is nuts. When you look, and we don’t need to waste time with trying to describe what is taught in leadership and management development training for companies. This is what we should be training our frontline new hires. Why are we not investing this in our frontline new hire people? That’s what we are doing ourselves, because our goal is basically to graduate leaders that will take values with them into their companies. We always hear this idea, you hire for culture. Now there’s the pushback, and it’s true, that if you just hire for culture, that will lead to inherent bias. It will, and diminished returned. So now they’re saying, we hire for culture add. But the question I want to know is, who is cultivating the culture to hire? That’s just left to the whims. What is it, your elementary school teacher, your college teacher, your friend, your parents? I mean, you’re going to get some good stuff.
William Tincup (24:58):
Yeah, you’re going to, you’re also get stuff that’s not good.
Randy Rosenthal (25:04):
Why are we not developing our frontline new hires? And imbuing them, investing them with leadership training? Every single human being that we call an employee is a human being that wants purpose as much as money, and mostly more, they deserve it. And you never know where your next leader is going to come from. And so I wanted to just a little bit with you because it was crazy. Why is it only offered to the top level executives in a company?
William Tincup (25:42):
Well, you and I both know the reason why historically, but we won’t go down that rabbit hole. Randy, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much.
Randy Rosenthal (25:53):
This was fun. I knew you were going to be fun when I saw your LinkedIn profile.
William Tincup (25:58):
Well, thank you.
Randy Rosenthal (25:58):
We should maybe catch up on other stuff maybe at some point.
William Tincup (26:02):
I would love that. And thanks again for coming on the podcast.
Randy Rosenthal (26:04):
Absolutely. Should we sing ourselves off?
William Tincup (26:08):
Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s do that.
Randy Rosenthal (26:09):
It’s been fun, it’s been great.
William Tincup (26:13):
All right my friend. Take care of yourself.
Randy Rosenthal (26:15):
All right. Bye.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.