Coding & Hogwarts in the time of Corona

Learning to code is something I never thought would exist in my vocabulary. Like a cat avoiding water, I did my best to avoid anything ‘tech related’. After studying Environmental Science and Economics in South Africa, I did some land assessment work for a wind-turbine feasibility study before deciding to hit the proverbial ‘road’. I travelled for a few years before accepting my first (and only) corporate gig in Cape Town. On paper it sounded amazing, but I quickly learnt that my role, and the rest of the so called ‘eco energy’ team, was primarily a ‘greenwashing’ move – we were there just to give the company some ‘green’ accreditation. It didn’t take long for me to leave, and along with 3 other guys from the company, we decided to start our own thing.

“my stubbornness to at least go out with ‘tech’ for a drink was shooting myself in the foot.”

The idea was to develop a pay-as-you go platform for purchasing solar kits in rural Africa where users could, through the app, make minimal monthly payments to pay off a basic kit which would provide enough energy to power basic lighting and a charging portal to charge a phone. We had lined up a supplier of said affordable kits, but had absolutely no idea where to even start when it came to the actual platform application. After not being able to afford quote after quote from developers we found off Google, we decided to scrap that idea and settle for the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency in industrial South Africa. While profitable, it was not exactly what we had in mind. This was the first time that I acknowledged that my stubbornness to at least go out with ‘tech’ for a drink was shooting myself in the foot.

The second moment came when, some years later while travelling through Ecuador, I decided to set up an online store selling organically-grown-in-polyculture guayusa and cacao. Again, I had no idea where to even start with setting up an online store. I was so intimidated by it, that I eventually offered a  ‘tech-savvy’ friend an equal stake just to build it. There was delay after delay, and I felt completely helpless not knowing whether some of these were legit or whether it came down to pure laziness. The seed was planted. I needed to neaten up, put on some cologne and throw myself at the tech world. Be annoying and clingy, the full monty. 

I tried some online courses, but was so far gone, I needed the equivalent of a coding Jesus. Going back to study full time was out of the question. It was then that I heard about coding bootcamps. I was blown away, but equally skeptical. Learn to code in just 9 weeks? Surely not. I kept reading raving review after raving review about people’s experiences and decided to just take the leap and sign up for Le Wagon Barcelona. 

“I considered starting to smoke, but figured my heart wouldn’t handle it.“

It was easily the most challenging 9 weeks of my life. I wanted to cry at least 3 times a week. My relationship took strain. I ate a bag of chips and 2 empanadas almost every day. I gained weight, and lost hair. I considered starting to smoke, but figured my heart wouldn’t handle it. The thing that got me through it? Harry Potter. After a string of feel-good Disney movies, I got started on the Harry Potter binge train, and my wounded soul was so glad I did. I likended myself to Harry (though in reality I was a lot more like Ron), enrolled at Hogwarts and learning magic. That’s how I eventually came to view code. As magic. Like learning new spells, seeing your code come to life is extremely rewarding. And seeing coding wizards work their magic is pretty awe-inspiring.

The people, however, take the number one spot. Sharing the journey with such an incredible group of individuals from different backgrounds, and 15 different nationalities, was an experience in itself. An experience which lead to the starting of Enchilab, a team which is consistently making magic!

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