The developed world is facing a severe programmer shortage. Around the world, coding boot camps have stepped into this gap to teach newcomers basic programming skills quickly.

But in like so many other areas, Japan is different.

Coding boot camps have been slow to take off here, and programmers are taught by a patchwork of academic degrees, on the job training, and informal meetups and study sessions.

Kani Munidasa, the co-founder of Code Chrysalis, is changing that. He’s started one of the first Western-style coding boot camps in Japan, and the ecosystem is already seeing the results. Code Chrysalis has an amazing placement rate with grads receiving above-average starting salaries, but there is something more going on here as well.

Kani and I talk about how the job market for programmers is changing in Japan and, more important perhaps, how their place in society is changing as well.

It’s a great conversation, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Show Notes

  • Why Japanese engineers don’t participate in open source projects
  • The differences between Japanese and US junior developers
  • Diversity on a programming team does not main what you think it doe
  • How to learn to learn
  • Why Code Chrysalis turns down 80% of its applicants
  • Why Japanese enterprises are getting behind boot camps
  • Why developer pay in Japan is so low
  • Why so many engineers want to come to Japan anyway
  • How to overcome the need for degrees and certificates

Links from the Founder

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 Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs.

I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.

One of the most important developments in Japan over the past 10 years and perhaps, the most important way that things are different for startups today than they were 20 years ago is the existence of a startup ecosystem. Now, let me explain that because it’s not obvious, especially to younger entrepreneurs who have never had to run a startup the absence of a startup ecosystem.

A startup ecosystem is not just a group of startups that operate in the same city. We had that during the dotcom era. There were even VC investments, occasional meet ups, and some mentoring, but we didn’t really have an ecosystem back then. We had a community for sure, but not that ecosystem.

An ecosystem comes into being when startups start buying from and selling it to each other. When startups can target other startups with their innovative products, where our pool of employees move from startup to startup, taking their ideas and best practices, and work ethic with them. When an ecosystem developed, it’s an amazing cross-pollination of innovation and growth that is just awesome to be a part of. This is happening in Japan. It’s a relatively new and it’s fantastic.

Today, I’d like you to meet Kani Munidasa, co-founder of Code Chrysalis, a startup that can only exist within a healthy startup ecosystem but also one that any healthy startup ecosystem needs in order to grow. Code Chrysalis is a coding boot camp where over 12 weeks, students learn of the skills they need to get jobs as programmers in Tokyo and as you will soon see, they are really getting jobs.

In fact, after our conversation, there is something I want to ask you and I mean you, personally because it’s something that you might understand better than I do. I would ask you right now, but the question won’t really make a lot of sense until after you sit in on the conversation with me and Kani, and we cover a lot of ground.

We talk about how to get a programming job in Tokyo, how to ramp up skills quickly, and why diversity in programming might not mean what you think it does. But you know, Kani tells that story much better than I can, so let us get right to the interview.


Tim: Cheers! So, I’m sitting here with Kani Munidasa, the co-founder of Code Chrysalis, a Tokyo-based coding boot camp. So, thanks for sitting down with me.

Kani Munidasa: Thank you for having me, Tim.

Tim: Well, listen, before we get started, you can probably explain it a lot better than I can: what exactly is Code Chrysalis?

Kani: Sure. Code Chrysalis is a 12-week software engineering boot camp. We focus on creating versatile and autonomous software engineering leaders. The hard skills are given: you will be able to create full-stack software applications by the time you graduate, but we also have a very strong focus on soft skills like leadership, empathy, communication, and teamwork.

Tim: Okay, that is a lot to condense into 12 weeks.

Kani: True.

Tim: Okay, and it’s a full-time program or is it a part-time program?

Kani: It is a 12-week full-time program, so there’s absolutely no way you can hold a job while doing this program, you have to definitely get permission from your family before doing it because you won’t see them much too, and also, before you come in, have you do what’s called a pre-course which takes about anything from like a month to two months to complete.

Tim: Just to make sure they have like, the minimum requirements to – alright.

Kani: Exactly, we want all our students in the classroom starting the same foundation.

Tim: What does the boot camp cost?

Kani: The boot camp for the 12 weeks at the pre-course, and if the admissions process before that all included is hyaku-san-man, so 1.03 million.

Tim: Hyaku-san-man – that’s kind of a weird number. Why not just even ¥1 million?

Kani: We don’t like rounding up. I guess, the engineers.

Tim: So, ¥1,030,000?

Kani: Correct.

Tim: Okay, and you guys are teaching everything in English, English only, right?

Kani: That is correct. So, we believe that English is the lingua franca of technology. Our industry changes so often that technology just comes and goes so often, it would be important for you to be able to read the documentation firsthand, and then leverage that new learnings into your products, and solving a problem.

Tim: I’ve noticed like, Japanese engineers tend to be able to read English reasonably well but speaking English and receiving instruction in English is a really different matter. So, has English only been a problem for some students? Has it really limited your pool of potential…?

Kani: It’s definitely a bad business decision. We could probably get more students if we do this in Japanese. To combat the problem though, we did create a part-time program, it’s two months, seven days, it’s called the English communication intensive and here, we teach students to just communicate in the English that they currently have. It’s more like a confidence school. Anyone who has done K-12 education in Japan, I believe can speak English, but they are worried about their pronunciation or their grammar, or they just want to sound sophisticated with the right words. In this program, we boost their confidence to just get your thoughts out to be able to communicate.

Tim: The instructor is now are all native English speakers. Do you plan on changing and then offering Japanese instruction and hiring Japanese instructors as well in the future, or are you planning on studying English only?

Kani: We want to try and stay English only as much as we can, but we also want Japan’s engineering ecosystem or communities to have a voice globally. So, there’s so many open source projects that Japanese engineers are not taking part in. There are big large forums where engineers discuss things but again, we don’t hear their voice. At least, when our students graduating, to be engineers who can go toe to toe with the world, complete with Silicon Valley engineers.

Tim: Okay, that’s pretty ambitious or a 12-week program. Actually, let us back up a bit and talk about you. So, I guess we have first met like, two years ago? Like, you were just thinking about setting this up when we first met, right?

Kani: I do a lot of courage to start this whole thing on some mentors in Japan, and while we had spoken a lot, I did read a lot of what you are doing here, and it actually gave me a lot of energy kind of jump in and do this thing in Japan.

Tim: Oh, thank you.

Kani: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, I mean, Japan is a lot more dynamic than most people realize, but let us see, this was early 2017? Yeah, it’s awesome to see Code Chrysalis up and running you guys having such an impact, but before founding it, you and your cofounder Yan Fan were both working at a coding boot camp in San Francisco, Hack Reactor, right?

Kani: Yan and I, we’re both graduates of the Hack Reactor. It’s another coding boot camp based out of San Francisco. She did teach at Hack Reactor and I actually also worked at Hack Reactor as a counselor after my graduation, but we weren’t working in the same time. She’s actually about two years my senior at Hack Reactor.

Tim: Alright, was Hack Reactor sort of your inspiration and your blueprint for how you wanted to run Code Chrysalis here?

Kani: Hack Reactor definitely inspired me want to get into education and do this in Japan. I know the cofounders very well, and we were initially actually talking about bringing Hack Reactor to Japan, but I also wanted to focus a lot on the soft skills. This is something that most boot camps, even in the US, do not focus on. It’s adequate to just teach the hard skills, and then find them jobs. What I want to do with this new concept of boot camp is to ensure the graduating class students to have the soft skills that will take them to the leadership levels, to be future CIOs and CTOs, and kind of lead Japan’s software industry.

Tim: So, was that decision more of one based on your personal philosophy or was it that based on a difference between what you saw in San Francisco and here in Tokyo?

Kani: A little bit of both, so it was, until I quit my job, I was in an executive decision in large tech companies in San Francisco, EMC, Greenplum, Pivotal Labs, name a few, but I did not code – I was not an engineer. So, I was very curious about that world, but the difference, you are right about Japan and US difference is we realized that most of the engineers we meet here were really not able to – one, they didn’t have the opportunity work in diverse environments as of the US counterparts did, or for that matter, bring the ideas to the table. It’s all –

Tim: So, when you say it like a diverse environment, what do you mean? So, I mean, I’ve been to plenty of startups in San Francisco and it’s a bunch of white dues in their 20s and 30s, and they’re very smart but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly diverse, and then you can go into Japanese startups and they will be a bunch of Japanese dudes in their 20s and 30s. So, when you say diversity, what are you talking about?

Kani: It’s not just diversity in terms of the members and the team. Silicon Valley engineers with change jobs, I would say on average every two years. They get to work in different industries, they get to work in different technology stocks, and they get to work with other different kinds of people too. So, this is the kind of uniqueness in San Francisco that makes the engineer that much more valuable year after year, because they are very diverse in working in different industries.

Tim: So, it’s more of like a diversity of technologies tahn a diversity of occupational experience?

Kani: .. as well


Tim: Okay. When creating Code Chrysalis, when creating a boot camp for Japan, what else did you have to change from the US model and what stayed the same?

Kani: So, biggest changes that we injected in this program are autonomy and versatility, and communication. So, versatility in the sense, you need to be able to have the skill set to work from anything from the front and all the way to the back end. So, one of our engineers can single-handedly create a full stack application, a web application.

Tim: That’s interesting, so US boot camps don’t focus on that, or…?

Kani: That part, US boot camps definitely focus on. That is the same. Then the other part or the economy, or being able to learn anything – as engineers, your entire life will be presented with problems and your role is to find solutions to these problems, and that part as well, in most boot camps, we call it more than teaching, you come to learn, right?

Tim: How do you – what’s the approach? How do you teach someone, how do you learn to learn?

Kani: That’s one of my biggest takeaways from me doing the boot camp. It’s called meta-learning, that you really start to understand how you learn as a person and we all learn very differently.

Tim: How do you teach that though? How do you get the students to figure out what works for them?

Kani: So, it is like enlightenment in a way, in a certain way, because you can’t teach it. Everybody’s way of learning is very different and unique. We don’t spoon-feed anything. There is no lectures that tell you this is what to do next. We give you code bases that are broken, we give you some introduction of a high-level framework, and then you break into pair programming, you work in pairs, figure things out, and while doing this, you start to understand what you are good at, what you are weak at, these things are going to be really apparent, and then slowly, what becomes apparent is how you learn.

Tim: So, it’s mostly just helping the students be aware of how they are learning and what works for them, and what doesn’t? Okay, that makes sense.

Well, let us dive deep into Code Chrysalis and the business model, and of the curriculum. So, tell me about your students. Who takes this boot camp and why?

Kani: 32% of our students are actually already engineers. The other 32% come from different professions. They may have some engineering background, meaning they may be hardware engineers or mechanical/electrical engineers. The other 36% actually have never coded in their lives. So, they are English teachers, they are musicians. So, that’s kind of the mix of students that we have today, and there’s about 44% Japanese right now in the class, the rest are foreigners either living here were coming from abroad.

Tim: Wow, so it doesn’t sound like there’s any particular theme, or maybe it’s people who are looking for a career change, or…?

Kani: The 36% are definitely looking for career change, even other 32% that are normally in BizDev or engineering, they are also definitely looking for either building something on their own or go into a software engineering career.

Tim: Okay, you mentioned like, the one third that is coming from a non-technical background, do they have trouble keeping up with like, the one third that are already engineers?

Kani: This is the brilliance of the program, if you will: we have created the curriculum in such a way that it can challenge already engineers, as well as beginners. Some people, yes, they may have already have a computer science degree, they may have worked as an engineer for three, four years, but we have ways, we have nightmare mode on top of advanced mode. If they finished their goals, there is advanced mode and nightmare mode they can work on. Whereas the –

Tim: Alright. What is nightmare mode?

Kani: It’s basically if you finish your assignment and you still have cycles, you will work on some advanced criteria, and if you finished that, there is stuff that will keep them up all night.

Tim: It’s like, crunch time. It’s – yeah, I’ve spent a fair part of my career in nightmare mode.

Well, I read in an earlier interview you gave, or it might have been Yan, you mentioned that 80% of the applicants don’t pass of the screening process to join the boot camp.

Kani: That is correct. Screening process, the first thing you do is you go online, and you hit the apply button. What you are presented with is a coding challenge, and until you correct that challenge, you can’t even write your name and email address. From the very beginning, we filter people will have introduction to our script, and that’s the language we teach.

The challenge is not that difficult. There is great material out there for free that they can use themselves to learn to crack the code.

Tim:  So, what type of a challenge? A lot of our listeners are engineers and programmers. So, I mean, what type of a challenge are you asking them to solve?

Kani: Yeah, it’s pretty simple. We ask them to create a data type with a name and their email, and then we ask them to write another function that will combine all of that together, and then spit out something in a certain format. So, a complete beginner could spend about maybe two weeks crack the code.

Tim: Okay, so it’s not timed; they just have to –

Kani: No, complete it, correct, and then –

Tim: So, it sounds pretty reasonable. If someone is committed to getting it done, they will get it done.

Kani: This is the key word, Tim, we are looking for students who are committed to and who are passionate about doing this.

Tim: Yeah, you mentioned that you have a 100% placement for graduates were looking for engineering jobs. That is awesome. How do you do that?

Kani: Yeah, the 100% placement rate is that we give them three months to find a job, so we are saying that within three months, our graduates have found jobs, if that’s what their goal was. It is a seeker’s market in Japan. There are more jobs than engineers are right now. However, it’s still not easy to get a job. I think one thing our employers who know us now, they value our students from the get-go just because they decided to quit their jobs, ten hyaku-san-man, and invest their time and energy in this program, that’s a mindset there alone that they kind of are interested in.

Tim: Now, that’s interesting because Japanese tend to mostly care about university degrees and official certifications and things like that. So, it’s interesting that they are starting to value programs like boot camps and Code Chrysalis. So, most of your graduates getting jobs at – I mean, who’s hiring them? Is it big companies? Is it startups, Western companies, Japanese companies?

Kani: Both. Our students have offers from Sony, Fast Retailing, NTT Data on the big side, and of course, we’ve got on the other and, cool Japanese startups like Zehitomo would also make offers to our students.

Tim: I mean, is there an overall trend?

Kani: The trend is definitely – and where the students want to  go are places that’s growing they can contribute day one and also keep learning. So, they like the start of, more smaller startup environment companies better. Having said that, last class, one of our students got offers from multiple companies, but picked Sony, the least compensation out of all offers, but still it was his dream job when he decided to go there.

Tim: Yeah, actually, compensation for engineers in Japan is pretty low by world standards. I’ve had previous guests mentioned that they were recruiting engineers from China to come to Japan and they have to take a pay cut. You are saying the average salary for your graduates is about ¥6 million per year?

Kani: Our graduates? Yes.

Tim: Yeah. That’s about $50,000, $55,000, and at that is a pretty good salary for a junior engineer in Japan. Why do you think that despite the low salaries, so many engineers want to come to Japan and live here?

Kani: A lot of people these days aren’t just focusing on the paycheck. If they value different things as part of the compensation. Even some of our instructors who are from San Francisco, they look at the entire package, and working in Japan for a couple of months or a year is definitely an experience that is something that they value rather than just the compensation of a paycheck.

Tim: Yeah, I think, yeah, software development until relatively recently, I mean, I’d say until certainly before 2000, software engineering in Japan was considered very much like a blue-collar type of job. So, the attitudes have really shifted in the last 20 years or so.

Kani: And, it is still shifting. It is not fast enough in my opinion. A lot of software is still outsourced in a company and its done because they feel that’s the least valuable component, but it is true, they are starting to value software engineering, and the engineers as people can add value to the bottom line and features and functions to products.

Tim: So, have any of Code Chrysalis graduates gone on to found their own startups?

Kani: We haven’t had anyone go the entrepreneur route and build a business.

Tim: That’s interesting. So, are most people going into boot camps either in the US or in Japan? Their goal is to get a job as an engineer, not so much start their own?

Kani: So, I was trying to say is, definitely small numbers still. We have had the opposite entrepreneurs coming into our program so they can build their own prototypes. They don’t have to hire a CTO; they can just create their own thing. There are some people, while having a passion doing a day-to-day job who are playing with some projects. So, I believe it’s a matter of time before some person decides to completely focus and take on their products to the next level for the business.

Tim: But so far, the objective of the students has been mostly get a good software development job?

Kani: Correct, yes.

Tim: Let’s talk tech. So, you are teaching engineers to develop full stack applications? So, what is your stack?

Kani: We use JavaScript and English to teach. We are not a JavaScript school though, we say we are very language-agnostic. We want the engineers to be able to be flexible and use any language they need to solve problems. Week 8 of the program is actually called Polyglottal week, they have to learn a language that they have never learned before, create an app and present them back in a week. Having said that, you have teach them some language and you have to give them a good foundation. So, we use no-JS which is JavaScript working running on the server side to build servers on the back end, and on the front end, we teach JavaScript and frameworks such as React. Japan and Asia is also a heavy user of a framework called View which we also incorporated in our second class, once we realized that. So, it’s mostly a JavaScript-based program if React and View on the front and, and databases, we do NoSQL in SQL databases.

Tim: That’s interesting, so it is a JavaScript-heavy stack. So interesting because if you would have asked me 15 years ago list of the top five most popular languages in 2020, there is no way I would’ve picked JavaScript.

Kani: In fact, today, people still laugh at us in Japan that we are doing this program in JavaScript, but 3 ½ years ago, Stanford changed the entire computer science program from Java to JavaScript, and I think that’s a great telltale sign of how far JavaScript has come, and that is inevitable to kind of ignore.

Tim: I’m curious here because there are sort of two opinions on JavaScript. There are some people who genuinely love the language, and then there are some people like me who think JavaScript is sort of the new Fortran. So, we are stuck with it because there is so much written in JavaScript, so we better just get used to it. Which camp are you in?

Kani: Some not a professional engineer, but having said that, I believe in the power of JavaScript are couple of reasons. One, it is the inevitable language that is on the web. All our browsers have a JavaScript engine, no matter what language you write it with, you have to still write JavaScript, that’s one. Two, the community has grown so much and there are so many tools and frameworks that you can use that it’s becoming easier and easier for people to get into JavaScript, to learn JavaScript, and not only that, now, you can use JavaScript not only on the back end, but even IOT devices – all these microcontrollers that you have today, you can load these frameworks, and then you can a program in JavaScript. So, the hurdles that you had of having to know different languages and different things also is kind of going away.

Tim: So, it just makes sense, it’s like a good practical first language. You can do a lot of things with it.

Kani: Yes, absolutely.

Tim: It’s not that hard to learn.

Kani: It’s not that hard to learn, it’s very forgiving. It’s not a strict language, but again, it’s just that language, we are using to teach software engineers to be software engineers. You have to have an open mind, you have to use the right language, and you have to frame different applications.

Tim: Let’s talk a bit about Japan in general. So, one thing I have noticed in Japanese software engineers is there is this Japanese tendency towards perfection, and there is a good sides and bad sides of that trait, but is that something you see an is that something you see as hurting Japanese software development?

Kani: We do see this and it’s a real bad practice. When it comes to engineering software, building software products, you really need to have a very agile mindset. If you are trying to iron out the specs for six months, and then build it in another six months to a year, the chance of users not even need this product that you just built. We believe that you want to create a minimum viable product in a very short period of time, maybe a month, and then you use the product that you built, and you get feedback from the customers, and then kind of iterate on this product, adding features and functions as your customers want.

Tim: So, how do you get your students out of that mindset?

Kani: So, at our school, we teach lean startup and also extreme program practices. So, everybody has to play a program. We also practice Tech – TDD which is Test-driven Development; you have to write a test for us before you write a code. This eliminates the need to have a huge QA organization, continuous integration and deployment are also things that we teach, but it starts from the very beginning. Everything we do, we do using our entire programming TDD and agile methodologies. All the products they have built that are actually currently building, the repeat for their graduation project, they have until Wednesday build the minimum product that they feel is a working product but with lacking features.

Tim: Oh, okay, so I guess just, yeah, 12 weeks, tight schedule, the students are kind of forced to abandon that need for perfection just to keep up.

Kani: Correct.

Tim: Ah, okay. You know, EdTech in Japan, and I consider Code Chrysalis as part of the broader category of EdTech because it is changing how education is done in Japan, but as we were talking about before, education in Japan up to now has been so focused on certifications and degrees, and not so much on skills. Has this been a stumbling block for you?

Kani: Yes, we realize that the education industry in Japan for the most part, like gym memberships, you feel good after you apply, and chances are, you don’t finish the program, so you don’t get anything out of it, and this is the business model that does education programs are you saying. So, how do you overcome this? Yeah, we don’t even give our students a certificate to show up to anyone.

Tim: Really?

Kani: Correct.

Tim: Huh.


Kani: We tell them to go and show your skills and what you can build and what you can do in a piece of paper. It’s been hard though because we also have enterprises send their employees to a program. In that case, I think it’s very easy to see them when they come back how much they have learned. We have a couple of students from NTT Data, but once they go back, they are running a project on their own.

Tim: That’s – let’s dig into that because I would imagine, if you are trying to do corporate sales and trying to sell to a company like NTT Data or any large Japanese company, it would be really hard to solve them on the program without giving some kind of a certification. It almost seems like a requirement.

Kani: It’s amazing. Companies like NTT Data, I honestly thought is a large conglomerate that worked in a very old-fashioned Japanese company mentality. They seek does out while we were still doing our third cohort. One of the reasons that they were losing some of their employees want to come and join the program, so the HR department came and said, “Okay, what’s going on here? What’s this program? Explain a little bit more about yourselves,” and once we did that, they did see the value immediately, and they have said multiple students where they are probably paid for the program, but they have allowed them to draw a salary during that time, so they understood pretty fast what they are doing and to the advantage, and we are starting to have more conversations with enterprises.

Tim: And, they didn’t ask you for a certificate? Alright, that’s a promising development. You think NTT Data or at least those people you are working with at NTT Data, do thing that is unique, or do you think this is a trend that is changing route Japanese companies now?

Kani: They are unique, and I think NTT Data has in many ways been a trendsetter for the rest. Most of the things that they do and adopt her eventually adopted by other companies, so they look up to them as leaders. I feel other companies are also changing. We are in talks with multiple different large companies, either a way to train their new hires that are coming in and joining in April or to just grade the skill levels of the existing engineers.

Tim: Huh, that’s good to hear. It’s been so focused on degrees and majors, and I mean, let’s face it. The state of computer science education in Japan is absolutely terrible. Most new grads can’t code, most computer science professors have never had to deliver a project to a customer. So, there is a real gap in computer science education here.

Kani: The starting salary for a software engineer and Junior out of a four-year college is about ¥3.5 million, whereas –

Tim: So, about $30,000?

Kani: Correct, and we do ¥6.5 million on average, and I think the biggest difference or the value that the employers see at that point in time is our junior engineers are people who can write code immediately, whereas the latter version has to still go to about six months to nine months of internal training before they can – they are trusted with writing codes and production systems.

Tim: Even a computer science major?

Kani: Correct.

Tim: How do we fix that? I mean, obviously, companies like Code Chrysalis are a part of the solution, but it’s a much bigger problem than one boot camp can fix.

Kani: I believe that next year and the hereafter, there’ll be more and more boot camps in Japan, and that is a great thing because it – there are good and bad boot camps, but the good ones can really make a huge impact and add the kind of numbers of engineers Japan needs for their future. At the collegiate level, not sure really how you fix that. We aspire to be producing more graduates than any of the technical schools combined in the future. This is my personal goal, and that is I think when we will feel like we have achieved something, but I believe strongly, but there’s so many boot camps, good ones too in the world. They haven’t come to Japan for the same reason that we were hesitating, but as we are able to show that we are still surviving and that our students are getting great jobs, I feel they will start coming, and I’m looking forward to that day because you are right, we can’t single-handedly save Japan or create all of the engineers it needs.

Tim: It’s an interesting balance because I mean, you are comparing a 12-week boot camp to a four-year degree program. So, I’m a self-taught engineer, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for the CS majors at certain times, like algorithms… Everyone is so wild, you will be backed into a corner where those are the guys who know how to get something done. So, I think the universities have to play a role because there is something to be said for that depth of pedagogy, a depth of instruction.

Kani: Sure. We do too. We have tons of respect for universities and CS degree holders, and absolutely, they know certain things way more than any boot camps will. Boot camps are no different from vocational schools that you know, every other industry has. If you want to do woodworking, you go to a woodworking vocational school or maybe a mechanic, you go and actually practice of the skill you learn how to fix something versus spending too much time on theory. It’s not to say that theory is bad, but this gives you skills to work immediately in a job. I just met a data scientist while visiting from San Francisco and she was on the same thing; data scientists are most of the time like PhDs, but then if that same data scientist cannot work with a software engineer in creating a product, so these are important skills on both sides that people should have.

Tim: Well, listen, Kani, before we wrap up, I want to ask you what I call my “Magic Wand” question and that is, if I gave you a magic wand and I told you that you could change one thing about Japan, anything at all – the education system, the legal system, the way people thought about starting companies, anything at all to make it better for startups and innovation in Japan, what would you change?

Kani: Yeah, that’s an easy one. One thing – there are a couple, but if the wand only works once, I want to be bilingual. Going forward, if Japan does not seriously become bilingual and I mean  speaking English, the gap between them and other countries, and their leadership position will continue to widen.

Tim: Why is that? Is it just the ability to read technical documents, or why is English so essential?

Kani: I think this applies to other industries as well, but focusing on the tech industry, technology, no matter which country you are in, is practicing English, and there is so much open source projects that people are contributing over from over the world, there are forums that engineers can get in and get information or provide value. If you are not able to do these things, you are still going to be working inside an island in a closed environment.

Tim: Right. So, the lack of English just means they can’t participate in the global conversation in whatever industry they are in?

Kani: Correct.

Tim: That makes sense. It just becomes more isolated.

Kani: Yes.

Tim: Okay. Listen, Kani, I want to thank you so much for sitting down with me. I really appreciate it.

Kani: Oh, thank you. It was a pleasure. I enjoyed it very much.


Tim: And, we are back.

Okay, I’m old, I practically ancient in developer years. Developer years are kind of like dog years. Technology changes so fast as many developers skills become obsolete in one year as they do in seven years for normal professions. So, yeah, it is like dog years.

Now, I’ve been programming for a long time. I mean, have never actually used punch cards, but studying physics back in university, a lot of my classmates did. I can’t program in COBOL, but I can read it. I have managed large teams where their system of record was in COBOL, so I had to understand what was going on, and this gets us to my question for you: you see, all that experience lets me spot and discount trendy but unimportant development fads that are always popping up, and it lets me focus on what is important. That experience gives me a healthy skepticism of the latest silver bullet that the tool vendors want to sell me, but you know, my experience also works against me sometimes.

Sometimes, it makes me overly skeptical of things that really are new and important. Sometimes, there really are fundamental shifts in the industry and here is where I want to ask your advice: a very large number of Disrupting Japan listeners are startup founders and engineers working in startups.

Now, my gut feel would be that someone who’s programming education is that they graduated from a 12-week boot camp should not be let anywhere near production code, but I think my gut might be wrong on this.

Programming has changed a lot over the last 10 years. There is much less being built from scratch and much more work that is integrating existing components and testing frameworks, and testing practices become better and better every year. So, I would love to hear from founders and team leaders, and CTOs who have hired programmers straight out of boot camps and let me know how they fit into your team, what kind of tasks do they do, and what do you expect of them after they join? Get in touch and let me know how boot camp graduates have performed in the wild.

In any event, you can’t argue with success, and Code Chrysalis has many happy customers and their amazing 100% placement rates much higher starting salaries, it means they are clearly doing something right, and more important perhaps, even though we didn’t talk about this much, boot camps like Code Chrysalis could be even more valuable for people who don’t want to be professional developers even for people who don’t consider themselves as technical at all. If you are a product manager or in support, or even in technical sales, knowing how to code, knowing what you can and should expect from developers, being able to put together a prototype will make you twice – triple, even more productive at your job.

We live in a digital world and even salesmen and poets should learn to code.

If you want to talk about coding boot camps and the people who go there for the people who should go there, Kani and I would love to hear from you. So, come by and let us know what you think, and when you get the chance, please check out Disrupting Japan on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you ask a question there, I guarantee you, I will reply.

But most of all, thanks for listening and thank you for letting people interested in Japanese startups know about the show.

I’m Tim Romero and thanks for listening to Disrupting Japan.