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Small business, big mission

sparo-1Sparo: Helping people to breathe easier

Breathing is simple. We all do it, all day long. For some people, though, the process is not easy. For them, the simple act of taking a breath can result in a coughing fit, asthma attack or worse.

Andrew Brimer and Abigail Cohen decided to change that in 2012 while they were engineering students at Washington University in St. Louis, a decision that led to the founding of their company, Sparo. As students, they were involved with Engineers without Borders and Engineering World Health — organizations that assist disadvantaged people and communities around the world — and they were tasked with identifying a problem and developing a solution.

They talked with doctors and shadowed clinicians as they realized that lots of people in the world simply have a hard time breathing.

“As we got into it, it was just really interesting because there wasn’t much innovation in the space,” Abigail Cohen says, from the company’s home base in downtown St. Louis. “And these people struggle on a daily basis sometimes to manage their condition, so we thought there’s got to be a better way than what’s going on right now.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 26.5 million Americans had asthma as of 2016. Meanwhile, the CDC reported that about 15.7 million suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, although many more potential patients may be undiagnosed. COPD is a group of respiratory diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis that results in difficulties with airflow and breathing. Those diseases result in millions of emergency-room visits and deaths each year.

In two years, Cohen and Brimer entered their concept in numerous competitions, winning enough prize money to support the company’s founding. In their senior year, they took Wash U’s Hatchery class, in which students work in teams paired with entrepreneurs to develop a business plan or social venture. Once they graduated, they took Sparo off campus and into the world.

Sparo has introduced two products to the market, both aimed at helping people breathe better. The company’s original product, Wing, helps users to measure lung function. Users breathe into the pocket-sized device, which measures lung function, while a smartphone app displays detailed information that can be used to track breathing. A person’s lung function may drop in the course of a few days, and identifying that change early can help to avoid emergency-room visits and hospitalizations, Cohen says.

“You might not be able to detect those small changes, but our product, because it’s quantitative, allows you to see those changes over time and actually take your medication sooner and to work with your doctor to do that,” Cohen says.

The app also can track environmental triggers, send medication reminders and make it easy to share that information with doctors or family members. The device is cleared by the FDA and sells for $99 from the company’s website.

Sparo also has launched Lift Pulmonary Rehab, an online subscription-based program aimed at helping COPD sufferers manage their condition. Users get information about breathing techniques and guidance on exercise with the goal of improving their overall health.

“You can think of it as P90X but specifically for people who struggle to walk to their mailbox and back,” Cohen says.

Sparo has a tight-knit team of four full-timers, including engineers Matt Wahlig and Rajeev Mehrotra, with plans to add sales and marketing staff soon, Cohen says. Achieving the right mix of team members is critical to the company’s success, she adds.

“Finding the right person to join your team is absolutely critical because, as a startup, if you lose three months of time because somebody isn’t doing their job effectively, it makes a big impact,” she says.

Sparo has situated itself in an environment full of dedicated, hard workers, choosing St. Louis for its supportive environment for startups. Rather than placing itself in a corporate office tower, the Sparo team is among more than 200 companies working out of the downtown nonprofit business incubator T-Rex.

“We like the scrappy environment of it,” Cohen says. “We like that it’s a hub of a lot of people working their butts off to do amazing things and make impacts in a lot of different industries. In addition to that, I think that it’s really cool to see the community’s support for T-Rex. It’s a place where people convene in terms of entrepreneurship.”

 

KaloCyte: Saving lives with an emergency blood substitutekalocyte-elaine-haynes

Imagine a farmer in a remote soybean field who cuts himself badly on machinery.

Or a mass-shooting event that causes so many injuries, the local blood bank runs out.

Or a bioterrorism attack that both injures hundreds of people and contaminates the local blood bank.

These are not pleasant scenarios to envision, but the scientists at KaloCyte in St. Louis do it. Their goal: a synthetic and temporary blood substitute that will buy enough time for trauma patients to get to a hospital and receive medical treatment.

The research team, led by doctors Allan Doctor of Washington University and Dipanjan Pan of the University of Illinois, has created a product called ErythroMer, for which they received a patent in 2013. It is a freeze-dried red powder that can be stored at room temperature for long periods and, when added to sterile water, could potentially be used in remote settings, such as a desert battlefield.

Accordingly, the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health have taken an interest in ErythroMer. In 2017, those two arms of the federal government issued a total of $5 million in grants to the scientists at KaloCyte to perfect their “multifunctional resuscitation fluid” that gives patients suffering hemorrhagic shock time to get proper care.

The company also has raised $800,000 from investors. All of this funding will power the project for the next three years.

KaloCyte (which means “good cell” in Greek) has gone from the germ of an idea among scientists to a full-fledged company thanks to BioGenerator, the investment arm of the biotech-championing organization BioSTL. Located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, BioGenerator has helped to launch other companies as well, and in August it helped KaloCyte to find a new CEO, Elaine Haynes, who is technically an “entrepreneur in residence” at the incubator.

Haynes says her goal is to continue with fundraising, expand the board and ensure the research team is executing its plan on schedule.

Haynes says ErythroMer could have many applications beyond the obvious ones. In blood transfusions that need to be done quickly, there can be a risk of proceeding without performing typing or cross-matching; with ErythroMer, that wouldn’t be necessary because it would be universally compatible.

She notes that another application would come with pulmonary bypass circuits. Those machines must be primed with blood from the blood bank, but using ErthyroMer instead would spare that blood for use with trauma patients.

For now, the company’s focus is on getting approval from the Federal Drug Administration to use the product to treat hemorrhagic shock, which occurs in all of those nasty trauma scenarios.

Haynes, the new CEO, says of her scientist colleagues at KaloCyte: “It actually gives me comfort to know that there are smart people thinking about what we would do in these bad situations and are working on solutions.”

 

screen-shot-2019-03-13-at-7-06-04-pmMobility Designed: Creating a better crutch

When Liliana Younger’s father-in-law needed to have his leg amputated in 2008, he found that using standard crutches presented a number of problems for him. Unfortunately, there weren’t many solutions already available.

So, Younger and her husband Max decided to make one.

“That’s really the main driver for my husband and [me]. It is being able to help people,” she says. “We set out just to make one viable and usable set for my father-in-law, and in the process, we just realized that it could be a lot more.”

As industrial designers, the Kansas City couple certainly had the know-how to take on the job. The result was both a new crutch and a new company. Mobility Designed was born, and their M+D Crutch is rethinking one of humanity’s most basic inventions to help people with disabilities.

The essential idea is simple enough. Standard crutches situated under the armpits cause the user’s weight to settle uncomfortably, which can lead to pain or injury. The Youngers’ version alters that arrangement with the addition of extra cradles that support the user at the forearms and elbows. Conveniently placed hand grips can rotate in or out of place as needed.

“They don’t hurt his hands and wrists,” Liliana Younger says. “They’re just better ergonomically.”

The Youngers and another co-founder started the company nearly four years ago, but product development delayed launch of the crutch until 2016. Since then, Liliana Younger says a video they produced went viral, and the idea truly took off. Major media from Gizmodo to HuffPost have covered the couple’s creation.

“We actually have had a tremendous response from the entire world,” she says, noting that some of the buzz was generated when the crutch was still just a prototype. “We didn’t have product on the market yet.”

Today, they are producing their signature item even though they still haven’t really made a major marketing push beyond some international trade shows.

“But just organic sales have been pretty good for a product like ours,” she says. “It is a very high-end, higher-price-point mobility aid. And we’ve had a very good reception at a B-to-B level.”

However, the best reception remains the one they receive from individuals whose lives have been improved.

“We’ve had incredible stories from people that are in a wheelchair for different reasons, and they can’t use other types of walking aids,” she says. “With our crutches, they’ve been able to increase the amount of time that they’re up, which obviously has all kinds of incredible results and implications for their overall health. I think we didn’t really understand the impact for a lot of people.”

As for the future of the company, the Youngers don’t plan for it to be a one-hit wonder.

“We’re putting out more mobility aids. We’ve learned a lot from our users,” she says. “We’ve found that it is a really great opportunity to expand on that platform. We’re actively developing our pipeline of mobility aids with different markets in mind and different end users in mind.”

 

PlanIT Impact: Predicting future costs for construction todayscreen-shot-2019-03-13-at-7-07-16-pm

Craig Hughey knows that the costs associated with a construction project don’t stop when the ribbon is cut. In fact, the decisions a business owner makes while the facility is going up can influence energy costs for years — even decades — to come.

“What we’re helping folks to do is to understand the challenge that faces the building industry and giving them the tools that they need to make better decisions,” he says.

Hughey is president of PlanIT Impact, a Kansas City enterprise that aims to reshape the way companies view utility consumption. Founded in 2016 by architect/entrepreneur Dominique Davison, the outfit produces everything from ROI payback estimates to indoor water-usage scenarios to scores for walkability and access to transportation.

While PlanIT Impact’s energy-modeling software isn’t a crystal ball to predict exact costs, it does offer clients a realistic window into how the choices they make today on infrastructure or materials might affect their bottom line in the future.

“If you make these types of decisions, it may cost you more at the beginning of the building phase but, over time, they certainly pay off,” Hughey says.

Those payoffs don’t just help ease the strain on corporate wallets. They are also helping the global fight against climate change. Although sustainability and “green” processes have become the norm elsewhere, Hughey says the construction industry has lagged on energy-usage issues even as buildings continue to be major producers of greenhouse gases.

He says he believes PlanIT Impact has picked the right field at the right time, giving architects, engineers and their customers something better than an Excel spreadsheet and a series of vague guesses when they’re considering energy use.

“Over the next 10, 15 or 20 years, more people are going to be moving to cities, and the need for new buildings is only going to increase,” he says. “I don’t think most people are aware of the impact buildings have when it comes to climate-change conditions. I don’t think they understand the overall energy consumption of a building and what needs to happen in order to make that better.”

But whether one looks at the process as a matter of ROI or simply social responsibility, the answer is the same.

“There is certainly a need for this. This is something that most people know: Probably in the next three to five years the industry is going to take a big turn towards more sustainability in designing and building things,” Hughey says. “There are people right now who are early-adopting and getting out ahead of this curve, but we really feel in the very near future that this is a market that is going to take big steps towards what we do.”

It all goes back to the implicit paradigm behind PlanIT Impact — the idea that good business and good deeds can be one in the same.

“I think where we’re unique is we try to merge those two things together to drive the point home,” Hughey says.

 

101017-toss-it-curbside-aaron-brennan-submittedToss It Curbside: Hauling away the stuff we toss

In 2016, Aaron Brennan had an idea. A St. Joseph native and former U.S. Air Force mechanic employed in manufacturing, Brennan knew there was fierce competition among businesses to sell brand-new bulky items — furniture, appliances, etc. — to Americans for household use. He also noticed there was almost no competition to get their old, replaced items out.

“Junk is the most basic industry,” says Brennan, 34. “I thought, ‘What happens if we add the gig economy and tech to the most basic industry?’”

Thus was born Toss It Curbside, which is based in St. Joseph and now operates in 20 states. The basic service it provides is to match consumers who are trying to get rid of large unwanted items with “haulers,” or people with trucks looking to earn extra money on the side by either donating those items or driving them to a dump or junkyard.

The past two years have been a trial-and-error “beta” period, Brennan says, complete with funds and mentorship from Digital Sandbox KC, an incubator organization in Kansas City. There are haulers in more than 100 locales, and anyone can schedule a pickup through the website, but Brennan explains that right now, the primary entry point for consumers has been through iPad kiosks at retail furniture stores around the country.

Consider a consumer at a furniture store who has just bought a sofa. Before it’s delivered, she needs her used one taken away. She can go over to the Toss It Curbside kiosk to connect with a local hauler. The hauler proposes a price. If the consumer agrees, they set a pickup date for the old item. The hauler then can dispose of the item however he or she sees fit. There is an incentive to donate, though, because that’s free, whereas landfills may charge a fee, Brennan says.

The consumer pays the hauler directly; Brennan does not earn a commission. Rather, his revenue comes from the furniture stores, who pay a subscription to have the kiosk in their store. The reason they want the kiosk: Major insurance companies, Brennan has discovered, no longer want to underwrite retail-furniture deliverers who mix new items in their loads with old ones that might contain mold, bed bugs or other contaminants. Toss It Curbside, therefore, is handling the dirty work for them.

Brennan was able to recruit his haulers through Facebook ads. The gig doesn’t require much training or expertise, Brennan says. Nor does it require insurance for what the haulers do inside someone’s home because most of the time, they never enter. The item is set out on the curb. That way, the consumers — most of whom have been women, Brennan notes — don’t have to invite strangers inside.

And about 20 percent of the time, Brennan notes, there’s nary an item to pick up by the time the hauler arrives; a passerby already has seen it and grabbed it. Regardless, the hauler still will get paid.

While he initially considered attracting customers through Facebook, Brennan says he now sees the retail-furniture industry as the most attractive option. That’s why, in mid-October, he paid to have a booth at this year’s High Point Market, the biggest furniture exposition in the country held annually in North Carolina. Toss It Curbside had its official launch there.

“We’re first to market,” Brennan says. “We’re trying to go as fast as we can.”

 

First Line Furniture: Making school furniture to keep children saferfirstline-furniture

The stories have become familiar by now.

A shooter takes lives in a school, and headlines roar across TV and phone screens. Details of heartbreak and acts of heroism capture the nation’s attention. Calls for change follow, although no one can agree on what change should entail. Then, the issue quietly goes away. Until it happens again.

Three members of the St. Louis furniture industry watched coverage of the February shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 people died, and they decided they wanted to do something about it. Then they came up with an idea.

After a series of phone calls between his colleagues Rich Trubacek and Kyle Kostos, A.J. Unger wondered if a flip-top table — a style already common in schools — could be made with bulletproof materials that would shield students and faculty in a shooting. The trio formed First Line Furniture, based in Earth City, to make their speculation a reality.

“There has to be somewhere safe for these kids to go,” Trubacek says. “We got tired of people being sitting ducks. If at the end of the day we can save a couple of kids with this table, nothing will make us happier.”

The company added Aaron Barciszewski to handle social media operations. The three founders are familiar with their market, as they all work either selling or installing school furniture, and all still are working in their original jobs.

First Line has developed a prototype that can withstand multiple tests with high-powered firearms. The latest model remained intact after being shot with 90 rounds from an AR-15 rifle, Unger says, and the company is working through the patent process. In addition, the tables are made from heavy bulletproof materials, but they also are on wheels that make them easy for students and school staff to move them in an emergency.

The tables also have an orange band around the edge, signifying that they are designed to become safety devices in an emergency and hopefully providing a visible cue for students looking for shelter in an incident, Trubacek says. Still, the design is intended to look like a piece of furniture that is familiar to students, Unger says.

“We’re trying to engrain in everybody that we have to make it appealing and it’s not going to be a big tank sitting in the middle of the room,” says Unger, himself a father of three.

Teachers already have inquired about the tables, Trubacek says. Company founders want to make sure that potential buyers understand the intent of their invention. The selling price of each table hasn’t been set, but they said it likely would be cost-prohibitive to equip classrooms with enough tables to seat two children at each one.

Instead, First Line founders say they envision classrooms equipped with about three tables in a line that could be used to form a wall in the event of an emergency, as well as serve in typical classroom use.

Unger acknowledges that product isn’t foolproof — it doesn’t stop someone from entering a school intending to do damage, but it is intended to give students and school staff a better chance at survival. The company’s owners also stress that their motives are simply about saving lives, and not stepping into a political debate.

“It’s nothing to do with politics. It’s just that three people that work full-time jobs are trying to create something,” Unger says.

 

screen-shot-2019-03-13-at-7-09-56-pm

Rachel Sisk

Smallcakes: Dominating the world — through cupcakes

It takes a special kind of enterprise to list “worldwide cupcake domination” as the strategy on its website. But Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery is not just any business — and with locations in 29 states this Missouri-born company is well on its way toward a hegemony of baked goods.

Founded in Kansas City by Cupcake Wars alumnus Jeff Martin, Smallcakes has made a big splash — even being named a Top 10 cupcake shop by USA Today.

Still, one particular corporate policy really is changing the world — or at least the little corner of it nearest a Smallcakes location. The company’s franchisees give away all of their unsold cupcakes at the end of each day to various community organizations. The company requires its cupcakes to be made fresh daily anyway, so it doesn’t impact the bottom line. But it does affect a lot of people.

“I really like it because I know a lot of places don’t donate anymore for whatever reason,” says Lauren Donoghue, general manager of the Smallcakes in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb. “I can’t stand thinking that there’s all that food going into the garbage when there are people that are less fortunate that could have it.”

Donoghue, whose establishment opened four-and-a-half years ago, says she believes customers appreciate her shop’s policy of giving its surplus baked goods to a local charitable concern, which distributes them to others.

“They typically really like it,” she says. “I think most people feel the same way I do about stuff being thrown away.”

In the state capital of Jefferson City, Lisa Altamam’s Smallcakes has been open only since January, but it follows the same policy, giving away cupcakes to a rotating series of about 50 different groups.

“Whatever is left on the case is donated at night,” Altamam says. “We compiled a list of people who just came forward and asked for donations.”

That’s included donations to everything from nursing homes to local first responders. Sometimes organizations even auction them off for charity.

“They love to see those pink boxes,” says Altamam, adding that it is good advertising for the company and a good deed for the community.

“It seems wasteful to throw things away,” she says. “It is a quality product, and we just like sharing and enjoying it.”

Bethany Sisk, kitchen manager at the Jeff City location, agrees. She notes the importance of connecting with and assisting the community.

“They are the ones who are buying your cupcakes,” she says of local residents. “They are the ones that are coming into your store. These are the people that if we support them, they support us. It is a symbiotic relationship.”

Sisk says people respond positively to the idea.

“They also make comments about how other businesses don’t do these kinds of things, and they think they should,” she says. “They kind of seem angry that big businesses are throwing away so much food.”

Calling the donations “the best part of the job”, Sisk says the practice also helps the shop retain quality workers.

“Almost all of our employees when we hired them, they feel very strongly about it,” she says. “We feel very strongly about it. It doesn’t cost us anything to help out the community.”

 

Jarad Johnson

Jarad Johnson

Mostly Serious: Taking digital marketing to specialized levels

When Jarad Johnson was swapping text messages with his girlfriend about what to name the startup digital-marketing agency he was co-founding, he didn’t like one of her suggestions.

“We were just brainstorming names, and she sent some goofy name in a text and I wrote back ‘Are you serious?’” he recalls. “She wrote ‘Mostly.’ And there it was.”

Mostly Serious LLC was born.

“We decided that embodies a lot of what we believe,” says Johnson, who now is president and sole owner of the operation. “We have fun. We like a playful atmosphere, but when it’s time to get down to the work, we do take that seriously.”

Today, a lot of folks are taking them seriously. The Springfield-based enterprise can list such Southwest Missouri names as CoxHealth, Mother’s Brewing Company and Holloway America among the clients it has accrued since its founding eight years ago. The company grew by 40 percent in 2018 and is on pace for 30-35 percent growth this year.

“We spend a lot of time on the front end of our relationships trying to learn as much as we can about the company and the company’s goals, where they are struggling, what their biggest opportunities are, their customers, how their brand is perceived,” says Spencer Harris, director of operations.

“Before we even sit down and start coding or planning a marketing strategy, we learn as much as we possibly can, so we know where what we are going to build fits into their ecosystem,” he adds.

Both men think that’s part of what sets their company apart. They also believe the talent and experience of their 11 staffers make a difference.

“We have three people on our team who have worked with national accounts like Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Starbucks,” say Harris.

Johnson believes the company’s culture is a key factor in its success.

“Every company says that, of course,” he says, “but the way we view it is not necessarily everybody in the company being similar types of people. We set a very clear vision and very clear values for everyone on the team, and then we look for unique perspectives in each person we bring on the team and then ensure we are all going in the same direction.”

Johnson says he and his initial co-founder wanted to build an organization that would look at digital strategy from a different perspective.

“Originally, we just set out to build a company that we wanted to work for,” he recalled.

These days, that company is still going strong, creating long-term relationships with clients by mapping out websites, apps and a marketing roadmap.

“We’ve always looked for businesses where we can grow as they grow,” he says. “It has been a key component of how we operate here.”


Mother’s Brewing Company: Brewing beer, revitalizing a community

Jeff Schragg

Jeff Schragg

Mother really just wants you to be a good citizen. Buy local. Put down roots in your community. Give back.

“It’s a long-term view,” says Mother’s Brewing Company founder Jeff Schrag, whose brewery in downtown Springfield anchors the community it has championed and helped to revitalize since it sent its first keg out the door in May 2011 — in time to throw its first Mother’s Day festival for the community.

Since then, any time there’s been a community event, an auction to raise money or a flat-out request for donations to a cause in Springfield, you’d be likely to find the team from Mother’s passing out beer, offering up merchandise or kicking in funds.

Schrag, a born-and-bred Midwesterner, moved to Springfield in the mid-1990s, having purchased a newspaper called The Daily Events. Then he bought a company that makes men’s accessories, and he developed a real estate business.

In that decade, he made quite an impact on the Springfield economy and community, but he wasn’t done.

“I decided in 2007 I had one more business in me,” Schrag says.

That business, a brewery, would represent the largest investment in capital and equipment on Springfield’s historic Route 66 corridor — an area between downtown and the Kansas Expressway designated for economic development. It would end up giving back approximately $200,000 to the community in mostly in-kind contributions of beer and merchandise.

Schrag says he knew he wanted to keep the business in downtown Springfield, so he started looking at properties near the heart of the Queen City. The first building he purchased definitely ticked that box, but Schrag had a bit of a wandering eye. Architectural drawings already were in progress on a historic building when another site, a cornerstone of downtown Springfield, became available: the old Butternut Bread bakery.

This 38,000-square-foot bakery on the western edge of downtown once filled the area with the homey aroma of baked bread, and it played a major role in the downtown economy. Schrag changed gears, even though the building swap required dismantling the old bakery and cleaning the building from top to bottom before moving in equipment to make beer.

Schrag now currently employs 23 people, ranging from brewers and bartenders to sales people and marketing mavens. He admits he harbored some initial concern that a community that traditionally leans toward the “conservative” end of the spectrum wouldn’t be friendly to a company whose main goal was to get them to imbibe. Ultimately, though, that hasn’t been the case.

“What I quickly learned was that a craft brewery could be a rallying cry,” he says. “Beer is pretty good currency.”

 

Codefi

Codefi

Codefi: Cultivating a tech hub in Southeast Missouri

Cape Girardeau doesn’t even break the Top 10 list of the state’s most populous cities. But the southeastern Missouri college town has become a regional tech hub responsible for launching more than 40 startups, largely thanks to Codefi.

Codefi was founded in 2014 when Dr. James Stapleton, a professor at Southeast Missouri State University noticed that tech was missing from the otherwise-diverse array of industries represented in Cape Girardeau. Stapleton, along with Codefi co-founders Chris Carnell and Brian and Heather Holdman, aimed to help fill that gap.

Codefi began as a coworking space, providing facilities, support, high-speed internet and coffee for small businesses that did not need or want to establish their own storefronts. Since then, it has provided support for 40 startups, which in turn have created more than 130 jobs and drawn more than $14 million in equity investment.

The Codefi “community” now anchors the Marquette Tech District Foundation, a nonprofit corporation focused on accelerating education, technology and capital investment in Cape Girardeau.

To entice and support entrepreneurs whose ideas offered promise for economic and social growth in Southeast Missouri, Codefi also founded the 1ST50K Startup Competition and continues to serve as its managing partner; other partners in the competition include the Missouri Technology Corporation, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET program and the Bank of Missouri.

The competition awards $50,000 in cash grants each year, as well as a membership at Codefi and introductions to successful entrepreneurs. Winners receive access to venture capital and angel-investment networks, as well as social support and community-integration services.

To be eligible for the award, those behind winning pitches must agree to locate their business headquarters or a significant portion of their business in Cape Girardeau for at least one year, and at least one founder must live there full-time. They also must dedicate a day of service each quarter to advance the 1ST50K mission, and they must provide the 1ST50K with job-creation data and other information.

Since launching three years ago, the competition has received applications from nearly 40 countries and 30 states, and it has awarded $250,000. Winning companies have generated more than $2 million in revenue and 23 new jobs for the region.

In addition to the 1ST50K competition, Codefi and the Marquette Tech District Foundation also have launched coding and programming courses for adults and children in the region, putting into action one of the Codefi core values: “community over agenda.”

Code Labs One prepares participants for entry-level coding jobs in 20 weeks. For younger students, the Marquette Tech Institute hosts youth coding camps. It also plans to introduce a Youth Code League in area middle schools, where students join teams and compete against each other regionally for cash and prizes.

“We’re always working to integrate into the community,” says Stacy Dohogne Lane, Codefi’s community director.

These stories were reported and written by News Editor Rachel Webb, Digital Editor Allyssa D. Dudley, Staff Reporter Nicholas Phillips and freelance writer David Baugher.


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