Telegraph Academy Cofounder Explains how Hack Reactor Helped Turn His Life Around at White House Demo Day

Cofounder of partner school Telegraph Academy and Hack Reactor alum Albrey Brown pitched at the first-ever White House Demo Day, which was started to showcase successful entrepreneurs and demonstrate “why we need to give every American the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.”  This event brought together a diverse set of entrepreneurs from across the country, highlighting their individual journeys to show why we need to make sure there's opportunity for everyone in our innovation economy. Demo Day opened the discussion about how more startups can emerge in every corner of America, and that those underrepresented in entrepreneurship are being tapped to fully contribute their talents.

Brown spoke about how he started Telegraph Academy to help his community benefit from the Bay Area tech boom. His story is one of perseverance through tragedy and difficult circumstances. A year and a half ago, he was, in his own words, “lost”. He had endured an incredible amount for someone in his early twenties, losing his mother to breast cancer in 2009 and his best friend to colon cancer in 2013. He was talented, ambitious and entrepreneurial, but had no college degree and was entirely unsure what he was doing with his life. That’s when his friend, and eventual Telegraph Academy Cofounder, Bianca Gandolfo told him about Hack Reactor. After investigating the school, Brown decided to commit to learning to code and raising the tuition to attend Hack Reactor through crowdfunding. The results were powerful.

“When I graduated, I got emails from Google, Facebook and JP Morgan immediately,” says Brown. “I was astounded at where I had come from: I had no job, no degree, no runway, just six months before.”

He had a successful coding career available to him but Brown wanted to use his skills to make this path accessible to more people. After many discussions with Gandolfo and Hack Reactor’s management team, Brown and Gandolfo started Telegraph Academy, an immersive coding school geared toward people of color underrepresented in tech.

Brown explains that he wanted to help “people like me...who were not living up to their full potential.”

Watch Brown tell his inspirational story at White House Demo Day:

Brown’s story shows how personal motivation combined with strong training in high-demand skills can yield incredible results. The Telegraph Academy Prep course, which serves as an on-ramp to accelerated learning programs like Telegraph Academy and Hack Reactor, has graduated over 100 students, and Telegraph Academy is in the midst of its first cohort, which has fifteen students.

“What I’ve learned is that entrepreneurship is about scratching your itch,” Brown notes. “And my itch was not really having the resources or exposure to what it takes to become a Software Engineer. A lot of people in my community--Oakland, California, which is fifteen minutes from San Francisco, which is considered the tech capital of the world--most people don’t really see themselves on the other side of the bridge. And that’s what we do: we create a pipeline for those people. And we redefine what it is to become a Software Engineer.”

Want to take the next step in your career? Apply to Telegraph Academy or any of the other schools in our network, today.

Read more:

Hack Reactor to Open East Bay Programming School for Underserved Communities as Part of White House-Backed TechHire

Partner School Telegraph Academy’s Month-long Prep Course Creates Accelerated Track for Beginners

Student Outcomes Director Talks Tech Industry at National Youth Leadership Forum Panel