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Guy Experience founder spins Sandbox cash into opportunity for teen coding students

DATE POSTED:May 22, 2020

A new opportunity to build key, startup assets for The Guy Experience has Kansas City kids compiling their futures. 

“We really believe in giving them a project and believing in them,” Jerren Thornhill, founder of The Guy Experience, said of the startup’s new partnership with We Code KC. 

As part of the collaboration, We Code KC students will work alongside mentors and Thornill to build a mobile app and website for the company — a premium experience management company for the 21st-century guy, which includes such services as date night and trip planning.

Click here to learn more about The Guy Experience. 

Tammy Buckner and Dr. Phillip Hickman, WeCodeK

Tammy Buckner and Dr. Phillip Hickman, WeCodeK

“These kids, they’ve been working on learning coding for a while. And it’s hard when there’s not really a lot of real-life applications,” added Philip Hickman, co-founder of We Code KC and CEO and founder of edtech startup PlaBook

Click here to read about We Code KC’s efforts to close the coding talent gap.

“This is a project that’s going to live in our community and the world,” he added. “You can try to motivate kids as much as possible, but when they get an opportunity to have someone — where they really, highly respect the entrepreneur — and he chooses them to help develop a product, they’re speechless.”

Such gratefulness is a two-way street with Thornhill getting access to a team of students who are not only thankful for the paid, real-world learning opportunity — but who bring junior- and senior-level developer experience to The Guy Experience, said Tammy Buckner, We Code KC co-founder and CEO and founder of Techquity Digital.

“They’re learning Javascript, HTML, Python. These are the basic languages that most high level development teams use for projects and products,” she explained. 

“They’re learning all these skills to put together a project from beginning to end,” Buckner added. “We’re utilizing the agile methodology. So again, they’re learning the difference between agile and waterfall. They’re learning all the aspects and the concepts of a project in technology.”

The project is a first-of-its-kind for We Code KC, first initiated by Thornhill upon receiving a $20,000 grant from Digital Sandbox. 

“Giving kids a chance … that’s what I truly believe in. Showing them that we believe in something and coding is accessible now,” he said. 

“[Digital Sandbox] gave me a chance, so it was only right that I gave someone else a chance.”

Jerren Thornhill, The Guy Experience

Jerren Thornhill, The Guy Experience

Click here to read more about Thornhill’s Digital Sandbox grant and its latest cohort which also includes Hickman and PlaBook.

And such an opportunity could provide much needed resources for We Code KC students — with many residing in the city’s urban core — in the pandemic era, Hickman added. 

“They have aspirations of building other projects, aspirations of even your basic needs — of school clothes and those kinds of things,” he said. “To be able to sit there and say that they did it, that’s a powerful statement in the community. There’s something so powerful that you just don’t understand — [not that] you wouldn’t understand, but us, where we’re coming from that statement [has power.]”

Similar collaborations between We Code KC and area startups are expected in the near future, Buckner said. 

“We truly appreciate Jerren for giving us this opportunity. … [We’re meeting with] a pretty big company — a decent-sized company that is very known in Kansas City. So there will definitely be more collaboration with other organizations, startups, nonprofits,” she said. 

“We just want to make sure that we’re creating that pipeline,” Buckner added. “And then also being that outsource organization, to prove there are very talented young adults in the Kansas City area and outside of Kansas City that can do the exact same type of work that any offshore team or development team can do.”

Click here to learn more about We Code KC which is now registering its next session. 

This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.

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