What were you up to before joining Code Fellows?
I started my first tech startup in 1998—in all, I’ve done five startups. Three sold, two closed. Most were in the Business to Business market. I’ve also been on the board of a number of companies. I worked at Mitsui & Co., a Venture Capital firm in Cupertino (& Tokyo) for three years as an Entrepreneur in Residence.
The last two years I was SVP of Programs at UP Global (Startup Weekend + Startup America). In 2014 we ran 1,265 programs in 120 countries and 600+ cities worldwide helping founders launch their own companies. UP Global was recently purchased by Techstars.
What inspires you about this industry?
It’s a chance to see people change their lives! Many of our students have realized 5-10 years into their career that they chose an industry or career that won’t provide the life they were expecting, and they want to change their direction.
I totally get that. With two college age kids (+ two younger kids), we always talk about if the choices they are making will get the outcome they are after. We have a chance to help people change the outcome—to do meaningful work on a great team with a great company.
As a hiring manager of tech talent, you get to see people that may be new to coding, but bring with them valuable real-life experience.
Are you a techie?
I’m a product guy—and yes, I taught myself to code in PHP a number of years ago… but I’m slow and out of practice. When you develop a product, you have to think through the problem you’re solving and how you’re going to build a solution. Then you write the code. I’d consider myself a startup guy and blog about that at dkparker.com.
What titles are currently on your bookshelf?
I’m about halfway through Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. Bold, by Pete Diamandis and Steven Kotler, was great and very inspiring to think about big ideas. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar, was a great book on culture. Red Notice by Bill Browder read like a novel, but details a bit of frightening real life.
Outside of your new duties as CEO, what occupies your time?
We have four kids, ages 22, 20, 13 and 7. The oldest three are boys and we adopted our daughter from China. With four kids, we don’t have a lot of hobbies!
I also sit on the Board of Directors of a number of companies.
Going forward, what are you most excited about?
We have a great team here at Code Fellows—that’s a great way to start in any leadership role. Although this market has grown a lot over the last couple of years, there is still a lot of runway left to grow—there continues to be more jobs in our target cities than university Computer Science programs can fill. If we fill a significant number of those roles with women, minorities, and veterans, that would make me very happy.
We’re excited to have you on the team, Dave!