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Gaming EdTech with codary co-founders Antonia Schein & Amanda Maiwald

Amanda Maiwald and Antonia Schein, co-founders of the EdTech startup codary, are teaching youth how to code in a unique and playful way.

Antonia Schein and Amanda Maiwald have changed the game of EdTech (educational technology), by teaching programming to youth in a unique and playful way. 

They are the co-founders of codary, a Berlin-based EdTech startup whose mission is to educate kids and teens about coding. Antonia serves as the company’s Chief Growth Officer and Amanda is the CEO. Within just two years, codary has successfully taught more than 32,000 students.

Prior to founding codary in 2020, Schein worked in the mobility sector for several companies including Mercedes, Deutsche Bahn, and CleverShuttle, while Maiwald worked as an iOS Developer at Deutsche Bahn and CleverShuttle. Antonia studied sustainable and international management in Berlin, Lisbon, and Copenhagen and Amanda studied business informatics in Berlin.

We spoke with Antonia and Amanda to learn what sparked their interest in educational technology, how the curriculum at the codary differentiates from traditional education, and what they see for the future of EdTech. 

Where the interest in educational technology began

HubSpot for Startups: When did you first become interested in computer science and what intrigued you about it?

Amanda: In the early 2000s, I attended a computer class at my German school, but unfortunately, all that I learned there was how to type Word documents and create PDFs. Later on, I decided to study IT in my master's studies because I was fascinated by the job: Computer Science is an ever-evolving and interdisciplinary field that combines theory, practice, and innovation to solve complex problems and create new technologies. Coding offers us the opportunity to be creative and innovative and make a real impact on the world. This inspired me to found codary.

HSFS: How did you come to realize the value of coding and the importance of educating children in the field? 

Antonia: Coding has become a fundamental skill to succeed in every industry, from software development and engineering to finance and healthcare. As technology continues to evolve and shape our world, the ability to code is becoming increasingly valuable. I am lucky that I learned how to code with my master's degree, but this was way too late in my opinion. Therefore, we want to start at an early age: Coding offers a wide range of benefits to children, including improved problem-solving and critical thinking skills, creativity, and digital literacy. Introducing coding to children at an early age can help them develop a growth mindset, as they learn how to approach challenges, experiment, and iterate until they find a solution. Our programming classes at codary provide just that!

The origins of codary

HSFS: What led you to found your own EdTech company, codary?

Amanda: When I was studying computer science, I was one of the few female students in the classroom. Once I started talking to my male colleagues, I realized that they all started coding because of computer games they played when they were teenagers. I wondered why I didn’t, and so I chose to do something about this. In 2020, I founded codary together with my friends Antonia and Nikolaj to make IT more diverse and offer all kids a chance to succeed in programming.

HSFS: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in forming your company? 

Antonia: We founded our company in the midst of many crises: COVID-19, inflation, and war created a lot of uncertainty in the startup world. These types of concerns can make it challenging to make informed decisions, predict cash flow, or grow a team. One of our biggest challenges was to fill our open positions after we successfully raised our seed funding in the summer of 2022. The current layoffs in the tech world eased our hiring process in 2023, though!

codary co-founderscodary co-founders: Antonia Schein, Amanda Maiwald, and Nikolaij Bewer

The codary curriculum

HSFS: What does the curriculum entail for the children enrolled in the codary’s programs? 

Amanda: At codary, we offer live digital classes that are taught by a student tutor to a group of 10 kids. For the younger kids ages 7-10, we developed a Minecraft course where they can learn how to teleport and automate their builds through code with the block-based language MakeCode. For older kids ages 11-16, we offer Minecraft Python courses as well as Game Development with JavaScript and App Development classes. They love playing games and learning at the same time!

HSFS: Are there coding skills that children can learn from the codary that they may not otherwise have with traditional education?

Antonia: In schools, kids learn the theories of computer science, but usually never dive deep into the practice of coding games and projects. How we teach at codary, through video games, offers multiple skills like improved problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Introducing coding to children at an early age can help them to solve problems quicker, as they learn to iterate until they find a solution, while in schools there is usually only right or wrong.

The future of educational technology 

HSFS: What do you see for the future of EdTech? 

Amanda: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption and use of EdTech as more schools and educational institutions had to shift to online and remote learning. This trend is likely to continue, with EdTech playing an increasingly important role in the future of education. Some potential developments we are closely monitoring and integrating at codary are personalized learning, gamification, virtual reality, and blockchain-based verification systems for academic achievements.

HSFS: What are your short and long-term goals for EdTech at codary? 

Amanda: We are currently building a scholarship program to support kids from low-income households so they can attend our programming classes. For this, we are looking for further partners who want to support our mission. In the long run, we want to make coding a fun and personalized experience and our goal is to be the European market leader in kids coding education in 2024!

Advice for female entrepreneurs

As advocates for female empowerment, Antonia and Amanda are the perfect role models. We asked them what advice they would give to other women who also want to be successful entrepreneurs.  

“Being a successful entrepreneur requires a combination of self-belief, continuous learning, focus, and resilience. By building a supportive women’s network, staying true to your vision, and embracing diversity and inclusion, you can increase your chances of success as a female founder! But foremost: Be resilient and persistent! Building a successful business takes time and hard work. Stay focused, stay motivated, and don't give up easily, girl!”, said Antonia. 

Both women are on the Forbes German 30 under 30 list for 2022 and winners of the Digital Female Leader Award for 2021. At the young ages of just 28 and 30, Schein and Maiwald are most certainly two women founders to be on the lookout for.

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