Today, we highlight Sheri Allain from Codezilla Kids. This mama is breaking barriers as she introduces kids to STEM and coding. Read on for what inspired Sheri to begin Codezilla.
Give us your elevator pitch — tell us a bit about yourself. We want to know what you and your company Codezilla is all about.
Codezilla introduces kids 4-14 to STEM and coding using kid-friendly software, apps and awesome tech toys.
More than 2,600 kids at 40+ schools in Toronto – and now internationally through online learning – have enjoyed our tech-rific after school programs, camps and birthday parties.
Codezilla’s 3-year growth has been fueled by parent referrals and principal/teacher demand. Our promise of ‘Safe, Educational Fun’ resonates with families and schools alike.
#LocalLove is all about showing love to small businesses and disruptors like yourself. Can you share with us what made you decide to start Codezilla?
My business was inspired by my two awesome daughters. I introduced them to coding at ages 4 and 7 because I was increasingly reading about the importance of computer science to improve math and problem-solving skills, along with access to well-paying, high-demand jobs. Now that we’re in the midst of COVID, technology is more important than ever.
Codezilla is a disruptor for three reasons:
- We offer programs for children as young as kindergarten (pre-coding without a computer!)
- We are super proud of our girl-friendly STEM curriculum (Doll Makers, Slime Makers)
- We are mobile: we uber our equipment straight to schools (no expensive store lease) to make our programs both accessible and affordable
How did you get into this line of work?
As I’ve grown older, I realize that my tech-ed company is partially inspired by my background. I come from a family of:
- Teachers – my maternal grandfather was a one-room prairie school teacher for 30+ years
- Entrepreneurs – both my paternal grandfather, grandmother and grand aunt were successful business owners in St Lucia
On top of this, I’ve added my 20-year career experience as an award-winning marketer for five of the world’s top brands. Yet my most important skill behind growing Codezillla has been my ability to out-market, out-mom and to out-work my competition!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (career or otherwise)?
My mom once told me: “If you want to study medicine, be the doctor not the nurse”. She wasn’t disparaging nurses, she just wanted me to push myself without having gender or race hold me back.
Another piece of advice that I read in a business book (and tell my daughters) is: “if you don’t ask, you can’t get”. It helps me to be brave at times when I’m scared to make the next move.
How about the worst?
Hmmm…there’s not been “bad advice” as much as there’s been “bad energy” or “lower expectations” of what I am capable of. This is something that every woman, person of colour and marginalized person experiences and understands. Luckily I’m a stubborn and competitive ‘fighter’. I try to let these negative sentiments push me towards positive results. Fuel for my fire!
If you could paint your ideal life, what would that look like in 5-10 years from now?
In the midst of our COVID reality, it’s been hard for me to think beyond 5 weeks – let alone 5 years. But my #1 priority will always be my family: my husband and two daughters who will be young adults within 5-10 years. I hope they can inherit a healthy and healing planet and populace.
As for me: I knew since age 17 that I would be an entrepreneur. I’m confident that I’ll still be hustling in some shape, form or way!
What are your favourite resources that you’ve come across over the years (e.g., email extensions, design apps etc.)
Slack – #1 team communication tool. Ever!
Ticket Tailor – more cost-effective e-ticketing app (vs. Eventbrite)
OneUp – app for doing social media automation and Google My Business posts (along with Buffer)
What’s next for you and Codezilla?
Pre-COVID, Codezilla was expanding to 5 summer camp locations and 60+ schools in 2020. We were forecast to be a million-dollar business by 2023. That’s not going to happen! So today, I’m staying open to any and all possibilities. My hard work — 7-days a week as a control-freak, hyper-organized, gotta-maximize-the-day kinda person — paid off. Codezilla Kids quickly pivoted to virtual camps that were sold out every week with waitlists. We’ve survived when others have not been as fortunate. But after COVID and Black Lives Matter, I’m genuinely OK with slowing down. I need to recharge and re-assess this Fall. Who knows what happens after?
Ain’t that the #truth, Sheri! Keep up with our #LocalLove highlight by clicking here.