Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

It’s been several years since so-called "coding bootcamps" first emerged, and with a growing number of them today, one-year-old startup Career Karma wants to guide potential students to the right one for them.

The bottom line: All coding bootcamps aren't created equal.

Driving the news: Career Karma, which participated in Y Combinator's startup accelerator program earlier this year, tells Axios that it has raised a total of just under $2 million in funding from a number of investors, including Kapor Capital, Unshackled Ventures, and Backstage Capital, among many others.

How it works:

  • Potential students take a quiz that assesses their preferences (full-time vs. part-time, online vs. in person, etc.).
  • They then take part in a 21-day program that guides them through resources to get ready for the bootcamps' interviews and technical assessments and connects them to alumni for extra help.
  • If a prospective student enrolls in a bootcamp they found through Career Karma, the startup gets a cut of the tuition (and a bit more if the student ultimately lands a job after the program).
  • Enrolled students are placed into a "squad" with a few others to give them a peer support group even if they're not in the same coding bootcamp or city.
  • Eventually Career Karma wants to roll out more resources and information about the bootcamps.

"The reason they get accepted is because the schools give us the requirements," Career Karma CEO Ruben Harris, who founded the startup a year ago with brothers Timur and Artur Meyster, tells Axios. "Some schools even send us their rejects to nurture them" and help them re-apply, he adds.

  • Harris also says that it helps the coding bootcamps cut down on their costs to attract new students since his company acts as a funnel.
  • The startup now has more than 16,000 registered users, and more than 50 of them enroll in a bootcamp every month, says Harris.

Career Karma's emphasis on peer support and community may turn out to be its secret weapon as it emerges at a time of growing labor anxiety.

  • "For a lot of folks … nobody has ever told them that they're worth something," says Harris, adding that most Career Karma users are people of color, 25 and up.
  • At the same time, the company has to balance the reality that a career as a professional software developer may not fit everyone — something Harris says often becomes clear when potential students don’t make it through the 21-day program, a test of commitment and work ethic.

The bigger picture: Though his company is focused on coding bootcamps at the moment, Harris says the plan is to expand the approach to other skills and fields over time. He predicts that non-technical roles will remain a bigger segment of the jobs of the future.

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