American life has gone online. Parents are working from home, and kids are finding themselves at the start of a new school year that is either entirely online or will be soon as completely reopening proves to be a doomed strategy. Either way, kids are going to be in the house a lot more and will need things to occupy their time. Any company that offers a way to spend that time that’s both enjoyable for kids and palatable for parents will find themselves with a market of customers several times the size of anything they’ve dealt with before.
One such company is our Startup of the Week, Codeverse ($PRIVATE:CODEVERSE). Codeverse finds itself at an intersection of several different trends and long-term changes that make it particularly well-equipped to seize a large portion of the suddenly massive market of stuck-at-home families, or at least to grab enough of it to increase its size and rate of growth.
Founded in 2016 by Katy Lynch, Craig Ulliott and David Arel, Codevers offers classes to teach children ages 6-13 how to code their own apps and video games. It fits neatly into the movement to democratize coding for young people exemplified by groups like Women Who Code, the effort from schools across the country to make coding part of the curriculum, the growth of online education companies, and the sudden influx of parents looking to meaningfully occupy their kids’ time to create a perfect storm of opportunity that should allow them to secure their spot and soar beyond COVID-19
Codeverse, which most recently raised $10 million in a 2018 Series A funding round, is forwards-looking as well; they seem to have foreseen the increased demand that would come at the end of summer and start of fall, and began a significant uptick in hiring in June. From June 3 to August 20, Codeverse added 14 new job listings - a 280% increase in just a few short months.
The hiring spree has paid dividends for Codeverse. While it took the entirety of 2019 for the company to increase its Linkedin headcount by 5 people, Codeverse added 11 new employees to its Linkedin headcount from July 1 to August 20 alone, a 22% increase in just two months. Codeverse didn’t just stumble into success like some other companies have with the sudden changes brought on by COVID-19. They foresaw the outcome and planned to capitalize on it.
A key part of codeverse’s success is its branding. Pitching itself as a family friendly company that appeals to both parents and kids, Codeverse has been able to secure partnerships with groups like the Girl Scouts of America, further boosting its wholesome family image. Such partnerships serve multiple purposes, allowing them to reach a broader base of customers, secure their place in the average American family routine, and help towards their stated mission of teaching “one billion kids how to code.”
That strategy is paying off. Facebook Talking About counts for Codeverse have skyrocketed in August, increasing 292% from August 1 to August 16. Overall, talking about counts have held higher and steadier than they did for the majority of 2019.
Codeverse’s success is twofold. The startup was able to set itself up for success by preparing for an increase in demand and devoting resources to branding and partnerships, making it easier to penetrate American households. If Codeverse is able to ride the wave of COVID-19 long enough, it will emerge from the pandemic as a crucial resource for early education and a powerhouse in an industry and movement that is seeing increased participation.