Ed Tech Startup ‘Kids That Code’ Picks up STEAM in Riverside
Instructor Hector assists a student in the program. Courtesy Kids That Code
Life changed in 90 seconds for two business students enrolled in the California State University, San Bernardino, entrepreneurship program.
Alfonso Anaya and Jose Navarrete launched their company Kids That Code after successfully presenting the idea to a panel of investors and entrepreneurs at the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship Fast Pitch Competition.
“We received great feedback on our concept to bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) education to children of all ages,” Anaya said.
The founders understood the reality that high-paying jobs of the future would be in technology, and the skills necessary to perform those jobs rely on development early in life.
A student wears a Kids That Code t-shirt to the program. Courtesy Kids That Code
Kids That Code started serving the Inland Empire in 2015 through afterschool programs, weekend workshops, and camps for kids to learn robotics, website creation, game design, or try their hand at 3D character development. Within a few years, the startup experienced explosive growth — thanks to acceptance into the ExCITE Riverside Incubator program.
“ExCITE allowed us to further refine our idea, consult with experts, be part of a startup ecosystem, and save on office space,” Anaya said.
Upon graduation in 2021, an ExCITE connection helped the company secure its first interactive learning center at Canyon Crest Towne Centre in Riverside. Anaya said he is thrilled to be headquartered in a community that strongly nurtures entrepreneurship.
“It’s a privilege to be part of Riverside’s commitment to companies growing here,” Anaya said. “It feels like we’re always at the forefront of the City’s mind.”
Students pack a Kids That Code session. Courtesy Kids That Code
Anaya explained how the ExCITE ecosystem helped inform the team of small business grants and COVID-19 relief — a lifeline for the self-funded startup.
“Kids That Code puts Riverside on the map for education technology,” said Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, City of Riverside. “Being home to such a promising startup brings exciting educational opportunities to our local youth and empowers other companies to lay down roots and scale here too.”
Looking ahead, Kids That Code has its foot on the gas, hoping to expand and reach students beyond Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The company is readying to approach angel investors and venture capitalists, add to its roster of 10 specialized instructors and staff, as well as grow its offering to parents.
“We’re starting a series for adults to spend their lunch hour learning a variety of topics around coding and technology,” Anaya said.
Instructor Nicole assists students in the program. Courtesy Kids That Code
For Anaya, a former software engineer, it has been an honor of a lifetime to facilitate students’ journey through code. He is particularly heartened by the number of females he sees embracing technology.
“At our last spring break camp, the boys were outnumbered by girls nine-to-one,” Anaya said.
Anaya said he gets excited about preparing the kids of today for the careers of the future, recounting a conversation with a parent who said her son suddenly likes math because of Kids That Code.
“If they (kids) can grasp coding skills, they will write their own ticket,” Anaya said. “They won’t be stuck trying to find a job; the jobs will find them.”
For more about Kids That Code, go to www.kidsthatcode.org.