Codebase is thinking to the future: the future of apps, the future of the tech, the future of education, the future of the local community. The company made the intentional choice to move to Savannah after a simple google search of “what’s possible” brought them to a sleepy-seeming southern city that’s proved just the right grounds for them to grow their company and their dream.
Whether you want to build an app that will change the world or learn mobile development skills that will change your life, Codebase can help you get there. With their monthly Make It Mobile workshop series or the fact that they offered the Savannah community a free 9 week IOS training course, these three are changing what’s possible–and what’s expected in Savannah, Georgia.
Creative Coast: Tell us all about Codebase!
Aleshia Howell: So Codebase is a premier dev shop that specializes in mobile apps, iOS in particular, made up of myself, my husband Max Howell and Nathan Hosselton. Our initial idea was to create a program for training mobile developers and bring in people to teach them how to build iOS apps and then send them out into the world. We discovered that there is not a development house that makes mobile apps in Savannah and so we kind of integrated that into our business model.
What we started this year back in September, is bringing in students, teaching them and then trying to retain as many as we can to either work freelance from Savannah or work doing work for us for clients.
CC: What was it that made you choose Savannah? Right? You could go to Atlanta, or Chattanooga, or throw it out there to whatever city you want. What exactly about Savannah was attractive to y’all’s company?
AH: We were in the Bay Area previously and then we were all in Chicago before that. Max and I moved out there, he had an opportunity at one of the bigger companies out there and we arrived and discovered immediately that we didn’t like it and were looking for our next move immediately after we got there. We looked at Austin and Portland and to be honest, they’re getting expensive and it’s just like the same story as the Bay Area. The same kind of people and we wanted to be somewhere where the tech scene was in a state that we could have an impact and somewhere we could afford property, which was not the case in many of the big tech cities.
Max Howell: Nowadays too, you can live anywhere in tech and I don’t think that many people realize this quite.
AH: People are starting to leave San Francisco because it’s ridiculously expensive, but they’re all going to Austin, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and those places just are still expensive and unaffordable to many people. The cost of living is going up and we wanted a good quality of life without having to pay a huge amount of money for it.
MH: I just wanted to live somewhere nice.
AH: Savannah’s a nice little blue spot in a red state and there’s a lot of creative talent here. As we were kind of looking around, we were sitting at the computer and googled Savannah tech scene, enter, and Geekend and The Creative Coast came up so it was like, “There’s stuff going on we should go.”
MH: Nathan’s story is a little different. I think he was kind of happy in Chicago and we coerced him into moving down.
Nathan Hosselton: Well, I had spent nine years in Chicago by the time that I moved here so I was kind of ready for a change of scenery anyway. I love Chicago still and I very well may end up back in Chicago at some point, but I was ready to live somewhere else for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to check out some place different and they sold me on Savannah pretty easily for all the reasons that they’ve already mentioned.
CC: It’s interesting to hear y’all talk about being able to actually influence the tech scene here because it’s still sort of trying to find its legs and define what it wants to be when it grows up. Can you talk a little bit about that and why that’s appealing and how it’s working out?
MH: Well, everyone’s quite obsessed with Silicon Valley but it’s also very much an eco-chamber of the same old ideas. It’s difficult to make a difference there. The interesting things tend to be happening outside Silicon Valley.
NH: Yeah, it’s definitely a center, but there’s also a hyper focus on say, another dating app. Or another video app. We were like, there are real problems in this area of the country that need to use cell phones use the same. Everybody wants to do something cool and fun, and I think you can still do that and kind of chip away at updating industries and actually doing something that benefits humanity.
CC: Right. So now the issue becomes about retaining talent that you foster. How do you see that working?
MH: I think retaining talented people is just a matter of having enough businesses that form here that can retain it because not everyone is going to start a company, for sure, so it’s just a matter of making sure there’s work and you’ve got more companies coming in like we are, then retaining will be much easier.
AH: If we’re able to retain people and our industry is such that you can work from everywhere, why wouldn’t you want to live somewhere that’s beautiful, where your rent is cheap, where there’s lots of cool places to go and things going on and people to meet and I don’t know.
CC: Cool. Last question: let’s talk a little bit about your event, “Make It Mobile.” So what is it and what is it that you hope that people who maybe are interested but is maybe a novice or even someone who’s just like, “I’m really interested in tech, but I don’t know where to start.”
AH: We started “Make It Mobile” just as an open community event where if you’re interested in mobile development, you can show up. You can be of any skill level and we can try to show you the ropes or tell you what you need to do to get started or if you’re experienced, it’s a place for you to come to have a community.
It’s very early days and we’re still discovering what it is and I think it’ll be more robust once we have students who are learning and can have a conversation about what’s going on. But so far the response has been good. We’ve had between five and ten people every time and people have been really good about giving feedback and talking about what they’d be interested to learn in the future. So we’re hopeful for it.
NH: A lot of them aren’t even current … The majority of them aren’t mobile developers. There are some developers down at the platforms that come but there’s also people who have no experience whatsoever, so it seems like there’s an interest in the area for learning about, in our case, mobile development, which is cool.
It makes it feel like this work is actually helping people, like we’ve found something that wasn’t available before and we helped create that space. That is what makes moving to a place worthy–when you know you are able to have an immediate, concrete impact.