Chris Conway's IT Bootcamp trains tech-industry outsiders to fill no-code roles

Cynthia Bent Findlay
For Columbus CEO
Chris Conway, founder, IT Bootcamp

Chris Conway, founder of IT Bootcamp, says he’s helping meet a need companies sometimes don’t know they have.

With the IT industry’s shift to agile, some roles—business analyst, scrum master and quality assurance analyst—have evolved, but they haven’t really been filled or executed well by many companies, Conway says.

Business analysts help developers on a project blueprint, scrum masters make sure the project is executed efficiently, and quality assurance follows up to make sure it’s what the customer ordered.

It’s those folks, rather than coders, who Conway wants to train.

Often, he says, high-level business strategists and technical folks like coders get thrown into a room together when companies try to build software infrastructure, and communication difficulties ensue.

“Your developer is tech savvy enough for everyone in the room, trust me. You need to balance them out with a real person,” Conway says. “You have to know enough to ask questions and go back and forth, but some of our best grads have been bartenders and nurses because they know how to talk to people.”

Conway says the idea for IT Bootcamp came to him through helping a family member make a career change.

His sister was unhappy in her paralegal career, and Conway offered to teach her what he knew from his years of running IT projects in agile and waterfall environments, which are two methodologies for getting things done in the tech world.

After a bunch of talking and peering over Conway’s shoulder, she got a foot in the door as a quality analyst at Wendy’s and quickly rose through the ranks. She doubled her salary within a year.

A couple of friends who witnessed her success asked if Conway could teach them, too, and he decided to start making a curriculum. He launched more formally in 2018, though the bootcamp was still a sideline to his regular career.

By 2020, an investment from Revel IT’s Randy Dean and a spike in demand led Conway to go all in on the bootcamp with a goal to double in size this year.

Conway also is working to make connections with government-funded programs and veterans service organizations to help students from the ranks of veterans and other underserved communities.

Demand is being fueled, he says, as many companies are building customer-facing technology for the first time, and businesses realize development teams, or at least leads, are often more successful in house than off-shored.

Graduates have gone on to work for State Auto, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Quantum Health and other large corporations.

Tuition for the 12-week, one night per week online program is $12,500, but Conway insists on not taking payment until grads achieve an IT job. If that doesn’t happen for a full year after his course, he wipes out the student’s debt.

“I want to change your life first,” he says. “For me, it’s still about giving people a second chance at a career.”

Cynthia Bent Findlay is a freelance writer.

IT Bootcamp

theitbootcamp.com

Founder/CEO: Chris Conway

Business: Soft skills IT boot camp focusing on non-technical roles

Employees: 1

Investment to date: Would not disclose

Launch: 2018