Today, Ingenuity Software Labs produces important software for the healthcare, education, construction, nonprofit, government and other sectors around the country. It’s been an exciting journey to arrive where we are now as a company, and we remain true to our roots in promoting community, business, wellness and learning, through the technology solutions we build.
Our Cofounder John Mierzwa’s road to starting Ingenuity Software Labs began in 2013 when he founded the Deep Dive Coding Bootcamp as a way for more people in Albuquerque to begin rewarding careers as software developers; especially people who may not ever have thought a technology career was possible for them. Deep Dive was one of the first handful of coding bootcamps in the world, with the only others being in larger U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.
John was previously Vice President of Sales & Operations for a $218M annual revenue construction company in Vegas. In that role he implemented many software solutions that provided tools for the company to become the market leader in data analytics, forecasting and business process automation. John also founded a language school prior to moving back to Albuquerque in late 2011.
John first read about coding bootcamps in a TechCrunch article in 2012 that outlined incredible graduate outcomes, including an 88% job offer rate and $79,000 average starting salaries. While most may have been skeptical, John immediately knew this learning method would be a home run, especially for people who wanted highly employable skills, but weren’t interested in spending 4-6 more years in school. People learn amazingly fast when placed in the right environment, and coding bootcamps allow students to gain the skills and experience they need in as few as only 2.5 months to begin their careers as Junior Developers.
In late 2012 John read this article in Inc. Magazine about Basecamp Founder Jason Fried’s investment in Starter League, an early coding bootcamp in Chicago. This resonated with John and solidified his thoughts that this was the start of the future of computer science education, and a boom in immersive learning in general. He felt and still feels that one day nearly all higher education programs will include an immersive component to provide intensive, hands-on experience that mimics the workplace. Reading Jason’s article was the decisive inspiration that made John determined to start a coding bootcamp here in Albuquerque.
The coding bootcamp recipe combines several key ingredients, each of which is necessary to produce the desired outcomes, which is graduates who can be hired and be productive as Junior Developers on Day 1:
1. An immersive, intensive learning environment; 40+ hours per week of in-person, instructor-overseen time, with another expected 20-30 weekly hours of work outside the class
2. The learning environment mimics a software development firm rather than a traditional classroom. Students are required to work closely in teams, learn to communicate with current tools, and will be ‘fired’ from the bootcamp if they refuse to work well with others, just as would occur in the real world as software developers.
3. Continually updated curriculum; between every bootcamp the instructors revise the curriculum to ensure each cohort of students are learning and using the very latest tool and technologies
4. Instructors who have formal computer science education, as well as recent, extensive professional software development experience
5. Deep collaboration with technology employers, to provide connections and jobs for job-seeking graduates, as well as to provide meaningful discussion, advice and input on curriculum
John launched the Deep Dive Coding Bootcamp in 2013 in this storefront on Route 66 at Central and Broadway, as one of the first few coding bootcamps in the world. It was a cool old space, with original wood floors and brick walls.
In 2013 few people in Albuquerque nor elsewhere knew what a coding bootcamp was, let alone what their graduates could bring to the table for employers. At that time the only reference point was a Computer Science Bachelor’s degree program. John spent a lot of time having coffee with influential Albuquerqueans and at various events, seeking advice and feedback, and explaining his vision for how Deep Dive Coding would move the needle on the double challenge of a tech talent shortage for employers and a pervasive deficiency of employable skills with Albuquerque residents.
One event John participated in was the first Startup New Mexico Pitch Fiesta, where he won 3rd place and $50 for his 2-minute pitch for Deep Dive Coders (the original name of the Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps).
The very first student found out about Deep Dive Coding through one of John’s Twitter posts. John found software developer Dylan McDonald in St. Louis and persuaded him to move to Albuquerque just three weeks later and become a Deep Dive Coding instructor. Dylan ended up being the lead instructor for Deep Dive for five years and the first 20 cohorts. The first cohort of Deep Dive Coding started in October 2013 and we graduated six students 10 weeks later, including two father & son pairs. One of the graduates even received a job offer before graduation, thanks to our first meet & greet with employers.
While John was starting up Deep Dive, he also was working with Henry Rael and the McCune Charitable Foundation to explore the feasibility of starting a software cooperative, where a volunteer group of developers and designers would form a coop to provide sales, back office and recruiting support for local freelancers and small software firms. During that time, various people approached John to help them with software projects they needed help with. John assembled teams to design, develop and deliver those projects, and began to realize that the demand for help on these types of projects was another opportunity.
That was the origin of today’s Ingenuity Software Labs; however, in those very early days John ran the software projects through his Deep Dive Coding company.
As John and Dylan ran the early cohorts at Deep Dive Coding, they learned a lot about how to structure the curriculum and overall program to maximize student learning and career outcomes. Dylan developed student pre-work, learning tools and resources, and embedded team projects and agile software development/project management in our program. John expanded student recruiting, embedded industry guest speakers throughout the bootcamp, and cultivated employer relationships. The meet & greet with employers at the end of each cohort evolved into a demo day, where employers saw the team and personal projects built by students and got the opportunity to ask them technical questions. These events still provide a chance for employers and our graduates to create early relationships, leading to many job opportunities.
Deep Dive Coding was proving to be an incredibly effective way to meet the needs of both students and employers, and John wanted to grow the company enough to provide anyone who wanted it the opportunity for this life-changing training. As a single Founder with limited resources, John knew that he needed help to do this.
In an instance of great timing, John soon connected with two Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) representatives in 2014. The initial conversations were around potential student referrals to Deep Dive Coding. Soon thereafter, a conversation with Debbie Johnson and Samantha Sengel led to discussions around deeper collaborations. CNM had been exploring the possibility of having a coding bootcamp offering at their upcoming STEMulus Center in downtown Albuquerque and were interested in a potential partnership with John and Deep Dive Coding.
Various collaboration scenarios were discussed, but in short order it became apparent to both sides that the best outcome was for CNM to acquire Deep Dive Coding, including the curriculum and the instructor, from John, and to have John run and grow the bootcamps at the STEMulus Center. CNM acquired the Deep Dive Coders business from John in 2014, through CNM Ingenuity Inc., their economic development nonprofit arm. He began working for CNM in May that year. Once the deal was closed Deep Dive Coders was renamed Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps.
The scaling of training opportunities that John had envisioned was now possible with this partnership and CNM’s resources. From one bootcamp in 2013 there are now five different bootcamps that are currently offered as of early 2020, each focused on in-demand tech skills: Fullstack Web Development, Java + Android, Digital Media, Data Science, and Internet of Things. Deep Dive Coding has graduated almost 450 new software developers from nearly 40 cohorts and is producing close to 150 new talented developers per year. Deep Dive Coding is now the top producer of computer science talent in New Mexico and continues to grow.
In May 2014 John and the rest of the STEMulus Center team from CNM Ingenuity began getting the space, curriculum and team ready to launch the Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps at the STEMulus Center. During this time, he was still also running bootcamps at the original Route 66 location. In August 2014 the first Deep Dive Coding cohort started at the STEMulus Center. It was Deep Dive cohort #5 overall.
At the same time he was building capacity at Deep Dive Coding, John knew that graduates needed real world experience to be as successful as possible, so he persuaded CNM leadership to allow him to continue to seek and deliver on software projects. John created a software development arm within CNM. He named it Ingenuity Software Labs. Ingenuity Software Labs partnered with companies and agencies that had software needs, then contracted with recent Deep Dive graduates for paid work on real projects. Ingenuity Software produced software for CNM internal projects as well as projects for outside customers.
After a couple of years helping to get the Deep Dive Coding programs, teams and many partners in place and running smoothly, John had the itch to start another company, and software was what he and our COO & Cofounder Lisa Adkins had in mind. Lisa is a lifelong technology professional and entrepreneur, experienced with systems administration, process management, the Microsoft suite, and she’s a SharePoint expert. Lisa is a chameleon of many talents and keeps us at Ingenuity Software in line and on track.
Ingenuity Software had been successful with contracts and providing graduates with work experience. John and Lisa spoke with CNM leadership about their plans, and through conversation it became clear that this was another opportunity for deep collaboration and partnership. So, Ingenuity Software Labs as a private company was born, as a spinout from CNM Ingenuity – officially in 2017 but with roots back to 2013.
CNM Ingenuity became the lead investor in Ingenuity Software Labs, along with Nick Truyol, Founder of Sabio Systems, a leading Albuquerque staffing firm. Ingenuity Software Labs enjoys support, guidance and connections from our partners.
One of the core reasons for the collaboration between CNM and Ingenuity Software Labs is our shared commitment to student success and career outcomes. We’ve had many Deep Dive Coding graduates work with us, as fulltime employees as well as working on specific projects. Some graduates have worked as interns with us, then gone on to other great careers. For example, Esteban (Deep Dive Fullstack cohort #19) completed an internship with Ingenuity Software upon his graduation. He gained experience with professional software tools and languages and contributed on several projects during his tenure. Currently, Esteban is the Employer Relationship Manager for Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps.
It’s important to our team that we continue to nurture up-and-coming talent, while always providing high-value software products for our customers. We’ll continue to provide opportunities for promising graduates who are smart, hard-working, hungry to learn, and customer focused.
We also have several Deep Dive graduates who are still with Ingenuity Software as part of our core team, including:
Nick (Deep Dive Fullstack cohort #6) worked for John in the mid-2000s in Vegas doing database work, systems administration and special technology projects. During his coding bootcamp, Nick developed a parking app as his team project. Visitor parking had always been a challenge at the downtown STEMulus Center, so this app addressed a real pain point for the STEMulus team. John, through Ingenuity Software Labs, contracted with Nick and his Deep Dive teammate immediately following graduation to enhance and complete their parking permit app for continued CNM use. The app allowed visitors to request a parking permit online, notified a STEMulus admin user to approve it, then allowed the visitor to print the temporary permit so they could park in city operated lots nearby. City parking officials agreed to approve use of the temporary permits. The app, called CNM Parking, is still in use to this day.
With lots of technology skills under his belt, Nick is now our Lead Developer and he continues to create important software with Ingenuity Software Labs. Nick quickly learns new tools and languages and keeps helping our team improve. He’s a talented, adaptable developer who can assess complex systems and implement logic via code, to produce modern software that achieves desired results and performance.
Jordan (Deep Dive Fullstack cohort #10) is a car enthusiast who once planned to become a mechanic so he could be around and work on cool cars. After attending Deep Dive Coding, Jordan realized he has an affinity and aptitude for technology and design. Jordan worked part-time as a Deep Dive Coding Classroom Assistant helping others grow their skills, while also working as a Junior Developer gaining professional software experience.
Jordan is now a designer and frontend developer for Ingenuity Software. He’s a lead on many of our website projects and also works on our various software products. Jordan likes getting stuff done and helping our clients with designs that they and their customers love.
Noel (Deep Dive Fullstack cohort #14) was one of our first hires at Ingenuity Software Labs. As do most Deep Dive graduates, she brings a varied background to her software development role. Noel’s art education background lends an aesthetic eye to her design, and her organizational talents make her project manager skills top notch. Noel helps us with frontend design and development and project management.
As is obvious from the talent snapshots above, Ingenuity Software is reaping the benefits of having access to amazing talent from Deep Dive Coding Bootcamps to complement our development team. Of course the Deep Dive programs provide graduates with skills and experience on cutting edge technologies and tools – and just as importantly they gain invaluable experience working in close teams and expanding their research and problem-solving skills. These graduates come to us and other employers ready to hit the ground running and contribute on Day 1.
Currently Ingenuity Software Labs is working to expand by gaining more customers from outside New Mexico. Companies and agencies around the country are realizing that New Mexico is the best value in the U.S. for software development, and we’re happy to demonstrate that value every day.
We build great software and sites for customers in the healthcare, education, construction, nonprofit and government sectors, among others. Our customers’ products are improving people’s lives, helping organizations run more smoothly and profitably, and generally making a positive impact on our world.