Camp, Cohort #1

what better way to do things that don’t scale than invite 8 strangers into my home and hack together all day, for 14 days…

what is Camp?

go here to learn more about the program. this post will focus on the inaugural batch of participants, August 14-27, 2023.

who showed up

my initial target audience was coding beginners with enough PTO to spend 2 weeks away from their day job. and we definitely have students in this bucket. but we also welcomed existing software developers (seeking a focused environment) and already-successful entrepreneurs looking to build their own side projects. to respect for their privacy i’ll refrain from blasting all their names.

domain-specific knowledge

knowledge is power money. and there are two strategies to knowledge exploitation… keep it a secret, or distill it. i’ve always had a tough time with the former because it seems immoral. but i also understand that knowledge has value. so whenever i learn something i charge an email address, real money, or fake money as a knowledge transfer fee.

the catalyzing insight of Camp is that some knowledge can only be transmitted face to face. for example, did you know it’s possible to consistently work a few more hours after dinner? seven days a week? while staying in shape? and still have fun?

this is special knowledge i picked up in my 20s. i ran multiple projects, generated millions in revenue, and still found time to binge watch TV and travel to dozens of countries. at Camp i demonstrate this through osmosis, enabling alumni to later replicate the environment at home and accomplish their goals.

teaching is learning

one byproduct of hosting a coding bootcamp is getting a pulse on my own level as a “developer.” i reckon i helped debug at least 250 issues throughout the program (13 days * 20 /day) and thankfully, not once was i “stumped.”

although some resolutions took longer than expected, all blockers were eventually resolved. prior to Camp this was my biggest concern, but now it’s one of my biggest W’s. i also have a shortlist of concepts to study up on before the next cohort.

profit motive

years ago i clarified dualistic motivations for everything i do: to make money, or to make a point. building and selling Fomo was to make money. pursuing K-Pop in Korea was to make a point. learning to code was to make money. teaching people to code is to make a point.

Cohort #1 by the numbers:

  • Revenue – $14,500
  • Expenses – $14,124.24
  • Net Profit – 8 dudes ready to crush

future batches will be more expensive, but it will take at least 3 more iterations to make this truly profitable. the Camp hacker house is my skin in the game for being bullish on IRL learning.

attendee feedback

at the halfway point of the program i met 1:1 with every Camper to learn whether their expectations were converging or diverging with their reality. is the food OK? are you getting enough done? what’s been the most and least useful aspect of the Camp environment?

every meeting is recorded and private, but here are a few anonymized callouts:

  • I’m so dialed in. I needed this 2 weeks to have no distractions and just focus. I wasn’t going to get this course done otherwise.
  • I’ve been in flow state for days. You should just make that the headline… Camp – stay in flow state.
  • More cooked vegetables would be nice.” (i almost kicked this person out)

i implemented some feedback immediately, including a live coding workshop and daily stand-ups for group accountability. we also made “work after dinner” the standard (versus optional) behavior.

to see what else students had to say about Camp, check out:

personal reflection

during the last 2 weeks i basically self-actualized because i get tremendous value from creating positive user experiences. unfortunately in tech this usually means counting clicks and seconds it takes someone to navigate your app’s interface. but with in-person training at Camp i got to see, hear, and even smell (sweat) the impact of a good idea.

Camp was also a great exercise in testing myself. George Costanza famously bemoans the requirement to be “on” at a party, and boy was i on for Camp. from 8a till ~midnight i worked side by side with students. i don’t think i sat alone at my laptop for more than 15 minutes, and i wouldn’t have it any other way. although to be fair we did play poker once. and i lost $225 to an 18 year old.

it was also fascinating to pattern match the most common errors and issues faced by fresh coders. at least 70% of my debugging at Camp was spotting typos. which is not to disparage the students. rather, to highlight that what’s holding you back from the next step in your entrepreneur career may simply be attention to detail versus the pain of adopting a new paradigm.

going forward

i’m quietly working in the background with Cohort #1 alumni to figure out an ongoing element to the program. as we get older it’s tough to make new connections + friendships, and i refuse to let return flights be the reason for their demise.

as for the student experience, Cohort #2 will feature our first TA (teacher’s assistant) who ironically is a better programmer than me. which means i get to be a Camper at my own event! we’ll also have more catering options and outdoors time, with a repeat of the soldier LARPing activities whereby we shoot a bunch of guns in the woods.

internally at Kulp Estates, my woman and i already conducted a post-mortem (romantic right?) and made several improvements to be enjoyed by the next batch of students, arriving October 1st.

to kickstart your own transition from employee to owner, enroll here.