A year in reflection

It's been 18 months since kids coding franchise Code Ninjas brought its fun and interactive coding curriculum to UK shores. And despite opening the doors of its first UK location in the midst of a global pandemic going from strength to strength

A year in reflection

It’s been 18 months since kids coding franchise Code Ninjas brought its fun and interactive coding curriculum to UK shores. And despite opening the doors of its first UK location in the midst of a global pandemic, the brand is going from strength to strength. Justin Nihiser, newly appointed CEO, has witnessed the launches of ten coding schools on UK soil in his six months at the helm and is playing an integral role in the planning of many more in 2021. Here, he looks back on a year jam-packed with achievements. 

My career in franchising has been varied – I’ve been COO of children’s behavioural and academic performance franchise Brain Balance Achievement Centers, spent over 11 years with children’s music education franchise School of Rock, and now I run the world’s fastest-growing kids coding franchise. So, whilst I came to Code Ninjas with a diverse background, all of these roles aligned with my passion for making a difference for children; equipping them with the confidence to excel. In 2020, 17 new British franchisees committed to supporting me in this endeavour, by investing in our franchise model.

I joined Code Ninjas as CEO just as the UK network was in the throes of their first few location launches – and I couldn’t be prouder to unite with the brand and champion its growth as the world continued to battle with the pandemic. I think there’s a lot to be said for the standard of the Code Ninjas franchise model that, despite a lockdown that gripped the nation for over four months, our franchisees were still able to successfully bring their coding schools to their local communities. Last year, we opened ten locations across Berkshire, Greater London and Hampshire. And, because our franchisees were respectful of social distancing policies, not only were they able to open their Dojo doors, they could host (at a distance, of course) entertaining and enjoyable grand opening parties. 

The first quarter of 2021 will see more franchisees follow suit, as locations open in Hertfordshire, Essex, and a further four launch in Greater London. All are planning to host grand opening events, inviting family, friends and members of their community to discover more about the Code Ninjas programme. It’s critical that franchisees continue to offer families as much normality as possible, which is why we’ve encouraged our UK network to push on with launching if they’re in a viable position to do so. As a testament to the stellar standard of support we offer our franchisees, we ensure they’re suitably equipped to implement the necessary health and safety precautions to host socially distanced events.

I also feel that our fun and engaging coding curriculum came to the UK at a pivotal time. Whilst there is a large community of digitally literate people here in the UK, I feel there aren’t necessarily the resources for these people to explore and expand their skills, or the skills of their nearest and dearest. 

In essence, Code Ninjas appeals to the parents and carers who see the value in giving their children a head start in the world of digital technology and how skills in coding and game building, not to mention team building and communication, will benefit them in later life. These parents are giving their child a foot up on the ladder before they’re even old enough to be thinking about a career! Code Ninjas arrived in the UK as two integral developments aligned – the demand for additional educational resources to tackle learning loss caused by the enforced lockdown and the ongoing need for upskilled British coders. Essentially, our programme seemingly provided a solution to a problem, in the right place and at the right time. 

Despite this unquestionably challenging year, our launch into the UK has been exceptionally positive. That’s down to the determined and proactive nature of our franchisees and something I’m very proud to celebrate. I’m looking forward to my first full year with Code Ninjas, and many more of the same fantastic experiences as I spearhead the growth of our global brand.

Justin Nihiser
Justin Nihiser