South Bend Code School Students Present Business Ideas to Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Cyan Banister

South Bend, Ind. – South Bend Code School students were the true winners at Hello World. A Pitch Competition from Nowhere, USA, held on November 13 (Tuesday). The event, sponsored by South Bend Code School and made possible by San Francisco-based venture capitalist Cyan Banister, saw five teams of students successfully pitch business ideas to a panel of judges, including Banister. The students, working as individuals or in small teams, developed tech-related  business ideas designed to solve real-world problems over the past several months.

Banister is a partner at the venture capital firm Founders Fund. Prior to joining Founders Fund, Banister was an active angel investor with a portfolio including Uber, Thumbtack, SpaceX, and Postmates. After learning about South Bend Code School’s mission and work following a recent tour of the Midwest, Banister reached out via social media to South Bend Code School to see how she could help support student development as they learned about coding and tech. The school’s inaugural pitch competition was born from this exchange.

The winning idea, Ideator, was presented by two South Bend-area students, fifteen-year-olds David Harrison and Matthew Williams ll. Their website helps connect entrepreneurs with talent and resources. They took home $2,500, with the second and third place teams taking home $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. They were coached along the way by the school’s instructors, as well as representatives from INVANTI, a South Bend-based startup generator.

“We are incredibly proud of our students and their impressive work,” said Alexandra Sejdinaj, co-founder of South Bend Code School. “The event helped us further our mission to give them skills and experiences that prepare them for their next step – whether that is college, a tech-related internship or job. We are incredibly grateful to Cyan for her overall support, time judging the ideas and funding the prizes for this competition. To have one of the nation’s most prominent venture capitalists directly supporting our students is truly special.”

Along with Ideator, other ideas presented included a website designed to bring board game enthusiasts together via local restaurants and cafes, a service that matches middle schoolers with local colleges that foster their unique interests, a website that sources and showcases job opportunities to high schoolers, and a search that helps users identify movies and films of interest.

About South Bend Code School:
Founded in 2015, South Bend Code School helps eliminate the barriers between youth and technology. Students ages 7-18 learn the fundamentals of web development and design, software craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship. The curriculum, now offered in South Bend, Elkhart, Fort Wayne and Bloomington, Ind., grants students experience conceptualizing, designing and building applications that works towards solving real-world problems. Age-appropriate courses ranging from an introduction to web development to programming to game design are offered in three cycles throughout the year.

Since its inception, South Bend Code School has taught just over five hundred students in its formal programs. Of those students, 33% are female and 41% are from under-represented minorities. About 45% of the students who go through the school’s programs receive assistance through the school scholarship program which helps make coding accessible to all.

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