CODE is the first private university for programmers in Germany. We talked to CODE founder Thomas Bachem about his opinion on Germany’s educational systen, German Tech talent and diversity as key to success.
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Thomas, you have a reputation as a serial founder/investor. Can you keep track how many startups/businesses/projects you have been involved in your career until now?
I founded 3 startups, 2 agencies, 1 association and 1 university. I also invested in several startups as a business angel.
Your latest project is the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Tell us a little bit about CODE.
We’re trying to rethink higher education from the scratch. CODE offers project-based Bachelor degree programs in Software Engineering, Interaction Design and Product Management. We want to create a really unique learning environment to educate the digital pioneers of tomorrow. 30 of Germany’s most successful internet entrepreneurs and many of the biggest internet companies are backing us.
How did you come up with the idea for CODE? Is it the German lack of well trained Tech-talent?
I’m basically building the university I was missing myself back then. We’re convinced that the way we educate students today is neither efficient nor adequate, so we want to change something about that.
Do I have to have an IT/Tech-background to apply for CODE? Or can anyone enroll?
We do not focus on the status quo, but instead want to see the potential in future students. You don’t need to have prior experience, but we’re looking for quick learners. Our application process involves several steps that give everyone the opportunity to show their individual strengths, be it in coding, design or conception.
The percentage of female students in MINT/STEM-fields in Germany is at about 20%. Does CODE have a plan how to close this gap and encourage more #womenintech in Germany?
Making tech teams more diverse is one of CODE’s key goals, and we’re putting a lot of effort into it. Just focusing on school graduates is too late, we need to change the perception of tech as a male-dominated discipline at younger ages. Because tech is much more about creativity, planning, communication and team work than most people think. Hence we founded the non-profit Code+Design Initiative, which organizes hackathons with 100+ adolescents in school holidays all over Germany and publishes a magazine that we send to over 4,000 German STEM teachers, showing the opportunities that tech offers for individual careers and our society as a whole. In addition to that, we support a lot of events and publications that focus on #womenintech.
Thomas “Tom” Bachem is a passionate entrepreneur and founder of several startups. Starting his entrepreneurial career in his very youth, the list of companies he founded includes the media platform sevenload (sold to Hubert Burda Media in 2010), the gaming startup Fliplife (sold to KaiserGames in 2012), online resume editor Lebenslauf.com (sold to XING in 2014) and hosting company Scaling Technologies. Though he studied International Business at Cologne Business School, his true passion lies in tech, and he spends a lot of his time designing, coding and building products himself. He volunteers as Vice Chairman at the German Startups Association, which he co-founded in 2012 to strengthen Germany’s startup ecosystem. Currently he is founding the CODE University of Applied Sciences, a private university for software developers, designers & digital entrepreneurs. Tom is an active business angel and frequent speaker.