First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Abid Abedi: Thank you for asking, let’s start with the positive. This year, I was able to spend quality time with my family, which I think has been the silver lining of the pandemic for many families. With two college-age daughters at home for six months, it was a prime time to reconnect.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded iCode?
Abid Abedi: I founded the brand, iCode, which is based in Dallas, Texas. We opened our first location in May of 2015 and opened the first franchise location in November of 2017. Having been an entrepreneur since 1996, I’ve launched over 15+ startups in the technology, wireless services, IT consulting, staffing services, food, real estate development and education in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
How does iCode innovate?
Abid Abedi: iCode immerses students in a hands-on curriculum that prepares them for the workforce of the future while teaching them skills that are necessary for today’s society. The schools offer a STEAM-based computer science education to K-12 through the proprietary curriculum and a signature BELT program in high tech, fully equipped facility. We have the most in-depth curriculum in our space. Our curriculum is 100% proprietary which sets us apart from the competition.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Abid Abedi: At iCode, we essentially shifted our business model to a virtual focus overnight. Parents have been very appreciative of the fact that we’ve been able to make quick updates and switch to online classes. We rapidly helped students and franchisees adjust to the sudden change and have continued to provide support to both groups. In fact, we distributed a survey to parents who elected to do the online program, and 85% said they were satisfied or highly satisfied with the program. For reopening locations, we implemented a comprehensive infection control program in all locations to promote the health and well-being of our employees, students and guests and are taking it state-by-state. Also, at the start of the pandemic, the corporate team handled the constant communication from parents for franchisees to help ease the burden off of them in terms of scheduling.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Abid Abedi: It’s not always easy to find that silver lining, but it is critical to find it. The role of a CEO is to instil confidence in the people working for them and to be the voice of stability and reason when everyone thinks the world is falling apart. Every crisis is different, and this surely won’t be the last crisis we face as a society, but it’s vital to invest in building systems that are powerful yet nimble. The lessons from these past months are clear. Those that can and are willing to invest in their companies during the difficult times come out stronger and pave the way for long term growth, improving prospects for success for their employees and success within their industry.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and iCode in the future?
Abid Abedi: By focusing on the positives and finding the silver lining. Being an entrepreneur with a focus on the positives has allowed me to navigate through some of the major crises we have faced over the past couple of decades. Time has proven again and again that we learn to overcome, to adapt and to move on. Yes, the social paradigm shifts, but life continues. We rebuild. We gain resiliency.
An online ecosystem was just a future goal prior to the pandemic, yet we rapidly modified existing curriculum and developed new virtual course offerings. COVID forced us to innovate, and now the online component has become an exciting aspect of our business that we can develop further and refine, and continue to offer in the future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Abid Abedi: While there are other coding school concepts out there, iCode’s in-depth curriculum and overall environment set us apart in the space. Our curriculum is 100% proprietary, and our environment separates us in the industry. Each location has four different hubs (classrooms), so there is more collaboration, and we are able to have different programs with different age groups offered concurrently. We have hi-tech, fully equipped centers that provide students with all computer equipment, including iMacs, iPads, Laptops, Gaming PC’s, 3D printers, Drones, Raspberry Pi’s and more.
Your final thoughts?
Abid Abedi: iCode’s franchise opportunity allows entrepreneurs to break into the booming technology industry with multiple revenue streams. We are now franchising and are seeking qualified franchise candidates across the United States.