On a Mission to Teach a Billion Kids to Code: Katy Lynch, Cofounder of Codeverse, Secures $10 Million to Fuel It!

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That’s right. Katy Lynch embarked on a mission to teach a billion kids to code and co-founded an awesome new universe of learning for kids: Codeverse!  And Katy and her team just secured $10 million dollars in funding to fuel their company an further their mission. codeverse

If you’ve met, or even heard, of Katy Lynch, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Codeverse and a member of the Ms.Tech Council, then you know she is a femme fatale tearing up Chicago’s tech scene in only the best possible ways. Last summer she rocked my 6-year-old daughter’s world with the interactive robotic programming at Codeverse’s Lincoln Park pre-launch beta testing event. I knew that anyone who could make tech so unbelievably cool for a young girl had an amazing future ahead and I’m happy to say that only 13 months after the first Codeverse location opened, investors agree (More on that in a bit).

When I sat down to learn about Katy’s journey from an intellectually curious young girl growing up in Scotland to the powerhouse entrepreneur she is today one thing became abundantly clear – Katy is precisely where she’s meant to be. As a child, Katy was always very outgoing and optimistic. Those traits have stayed with her and developed into two entrepreneurial superpowers: enthusiasm and charisma. While young Katy was a bit of a wanderer who lacked clear ambition, she was deeply curious and always looking on the bright side which gave her the courage to seize opportunities as they arose. She credits her openness to new opportunities for leading her down the entrepreneurial path.

"placing the company mission, vision, and values on a pedestal where they became the heartbeat of the organization."

heartbeat-pulse-business-feamle-foundersKaty started her first business, a full-service social media company called Social Katy, in 2010. Social Katy provided vast learning opportunities for her as well as her biggest challenge to-date. As Katy explains it, “You start a business because you are passionate about it; about the vision, that values, etc.… and it was hard to hire people who were equally passionate about my vision.” Katy learned to overcome this by placing the company mission, vision, and values on a pedestal where they became the heartbeat of the organization. This lesson can be seen in Codeverse today where it’s social impact and their vision to teach a billion kids to code drive every decision from hiring through the futuristic sensory classroom design to the kid-friendly coding language they developed called KidScript.

KidScript is a proprietary coding language that pulls core concepts from common languages like Javascript, Ruby, Python, and more and simplifies it for kids as young as six to understand. Since kids learn in different ways, they can drag and drop things on the screen or type lines of code directly and see real-time updates when they run the code. While programming a robot arm or building a game, they can see instantly how they changed the code which reinforces learning.

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The passion that drives Katy, and Codeverse, is a bit of a well-kept secret. Katy, along with her husband and Co-Founder Craig Ulliott, are both very family oriented. Craig also originates from the United Kingdom, and while they love living in the U.S., they fiercely miss spending time with family back in England and Scotland. As they began thinking about starting their own family one day, they kept coming back to this idea of how they want to raise their future kids. They knew that they would be a family that embraces technology and all of the opportunities it creates. Katy confides that thinking about the kind of education and skills they want their children to have one day was a massive inspiration for Codeverse, “We want our kids to be one of the one billion we teach to code. Codeverse is more than just a business for us, it’s our legacy.”

With such a strong why fueling Katy’s passion its no wonder that Codeverse opened to sold out summer camps last August and has continued to grow at breakneck speed. Which leads us to Katy’s latest milestone achievement, Codeverse has just secured over $10 million in funding from a cohort of investors covering both coasts, the Midwest, and international markets. The money will be funding world-class talent joining the Codeverse team along with two new studios opening this fall in Chicago’s North Shore and Western Suburbs. Codeverse also has plans to expand into new metropolitan areas in 2019. The Naperville studio slotted to open in a few months already has a waitlist.

When I asked Katy what fuels her love of the Ms.Tech community she said she loves meeting new faces and getting the chance to connect with old friends. “It’s been wonderful watching the Chicago tech community thrive over the past decade, and Ms.Tech has been at the forefront of helping women business owners connect with other women,” Katy shares.

Since Katy is all about giving back to the women entrepreneurs she meets I asked her to share 5 decisions she has made that led her to the success she is enjoying today.

Katy’s choices can teach all of us how to be more intentional as we approach our goals:

  1. Decide to have a positive attitude. Having a can-do attitude will take you far in any career.
  2. Have the courage to say yes when an opportunity presents itself.
  3. Take risks.
  4. Get comfortable with making mistakes. You will make mistakes, and that’s ok. Figure out a solution and learn from the mistakes.
  5. Surround yourself with people that lift you up. Create a network of other entrepreneurs and friends who share your worldview. No one has time for naysayers.

The rate of technological innovation is changing the very fabric of our social structures and economic markets. As Katy reminds us, “We have access to limitless opportunities today that are all enabled by technology.”

Today’s entrepreneurs would be wise to take inspiration from Katy, while she and Codeverse work hard to inspire the next generation of young technologists.

Caffeinated Optimist, Dream Maker, and Founder & CEO at Cultivate Ink, LLC.  My career and life experiences also inspire me to pay it forward.

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