Tech startup Cypher names ex-NatWest entrepreneur manager as COO

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Cypher, the London-based tech startup that produces creatively themed coding camps for children aged 5 to 14, has appointed former NatWest Accelerator Entrepreneur Development Manager Jodie Faitakis as COO.

The appointment forms part of Cypher’s extensive plans to expand into camp locations in the UK and internationally. 

Since its foundation in 2016, the company - which is backed by investors including Michael Liebreich - won the 2017 Small Business Grants and was selected for the NatWest Accelerator programme. 

Coding camps

It has grown from three to 30 teachers since its inception and has hosted over 1,000 children in its coding camps. 

The firm said revenue has grown 330% in two years, with global plans to franchise the business in the US and Middle East.        

As COO, Faitakis will be responsible for supporting Cypher’s growth strategy, ensuring fluidity of operations as the company scales into other locations across the UK and abroad.

Tech school: Cypher appeals to curious young minds

Prior to this role, Faitakis was Entrepreneur Development Manager at the London NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator London hub (previously Entrepreneurial Spark), where she met Elizabeth Tweedale, Cypher’s founder. 

Here, Faitakis provided coaching to entrepreneurs of growth businesses before moving into a more strategic role in the Entrepreneur Accelerator, working in partnership with universities, councils and networking groups in order build a robust eco-system around the hub. 

Computing skills 

Cypher was founded by Tweedale, an American-born serial entrepreneur, author, architect and computer scientist, who saw an opportunity to make coding more accessible to all kinds of children, not just those who are naturally adept at computational thinking. 

She also wanted to create a venture that would have a positive social impact on children’s futures. 

The wider business vision is to offer scholarships to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and increase gender diversity in STEM jobs. 

The real point of difference in Cypher is its inclusive lesson plans, designed in conjunction with teachers, to show the creative application of coding – from designing jewellery to programming drones to collect ocean plastic. 

About 45 per cent of the camps’ participants are girls. 

“Although coding is now part of the UK curriculum, this doesn’t mean that children are able to learn quickly enough to be ‘future ready’ with the skills required for a world driven by AI and tech innovation”, Faitakis commented. 

“Cypher solves this problem by creating high quality content that engages with a broad range of curious minds. 

“It’s exciting to be at the helm of such a business run by such a passionate and deeply committed entrepreneur with a macro vision to grow a venture that has a meaningful impact on children’s futures, as well as ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of creativity and technology for generations to come. 

“We’re at the tipping point for national growth, and I definitely believe Cypher will be the company to disrupt this industry.”

Tweedale added: “Jodie’s past experience working with startups and scale-ups will prove invaluable to us as Cypher grows. 

“She is a smart strategic thinker, has excellent connections and is very passionate about what we do. She will play a central role in helping us pursue and realise our mission.”

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