At first glance, Galvanise Boulder appears to be a 30,000 square feet co-working space with 23 meeting rooms and the “obligatory free beer” (their words). And it is – they have 220 individuals from 75 companies working in the space. But what was very obvious during our time with their General Manager, Emilie Kintner, was that she never once used the word “co-working” during our hour long visit. She pitched Galvanize as “a learning community for technology startups”. When questioned on this, she articulated it was a very deliberate avoidance of using the term “co-working”, in order to differentiate themselves from others in the market, and to clearly articulate their distinct value proposition.
As well as their Boulder campus, they also have locations in Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver, and will soon be opening in Ft Collins and Phoenix (membership at one gives you membership at all). When Galvanize are considering activating in a new city, the first thing they do is build community. They do this by setting up a popup space from which they run mentoring events, focussed on education and community. They also achieve community building through social interactions (which is a factor in the design of their space as well). A great quote from Emilie was “How do you build community? You get them to break bread together”. Only once demand has been validated do they establish their permanent bigger space.
At the heart of their service offering are educational programs. Examples include “Become a Data Scientist in 12 Weeks”, “Become a Web Developer in 24 Weeks”, and a “Master of Science in Data Science” delivered in partnership with the University of New Haven. One course lasts 6 months and costs $21,000 (USD), typically with 28 students per course. At the end of these courses the students are typically recruited into junior to mid-level tech roles, earning an average of $77k per year.
Students range from 25 to 45 years of age, and are either recent graduates, or those re-training for a new career. A big focus of their programs is teaching people how to help themselves get placed, and career services start on day 1 of their programs.
In the 4 years they have been open they have run 44 cohorts, and they have 26 full-time staff on-site, including 12 full-time instructors delivering their courses. They have a fantastic culture of “students can’t become teachers”, instead requiring that all teachers are from industry, and have real-world experience as practitioners of the skills they are teaching. At the start of each course students are told “this is the hardest, most intense course you will ever do”.