For entrepreneur and family man Brandon Robins, his life has been one of progression. “In my 20s, I was all about fun. In my 30s, I was trying to make money. In my 40s, I’m only doing passion projects that make a difference, ” he said. Today, he’s full-steam ahead on several such passion projects, including bringing Code Ninjas from Texas to Utah. “I want a higher purpose and not just a paycheck. ”
It was a long, interesting road to get to this point. Though he studied mechanical engineering in college, Robins quickly discovered that this direction was simply not for him. He pivoted to sales, working first selling pest control products and then helping to develop the home security company that would become AMP Smart. These experiences gave him the confidence to overcome the fear in creating a business. In 2009, he partnered with a friend and founded an insulation and weatherization company, which became a market leader and eventually expanded to seven states.
He found himself at a crossroads when market conditions changed, and he and his business partner had different ideas about where they wanted to take their company. Ultimately Robins realized it wasn’t where his passion laid. He decided to sell his interest in the company in order to focus on projects that he could become more passionate about and would perhaps bring motivation and inspiration to the lives of others. The idea of what to do next would come from his 12-year-old son.
Robins, and his wife, Stacey, had grown up playing sports and wanted to instill the lessons learned from sports in their children. Over the years, they have realized that each of their four boys has their own unique personalities and talents. His 12-year-old son was athletic but had a true passion for computers and technology. Robins wanted to do something to create confidence in his son and develop his natural interests and abilities. He thought about looking into teaching his son coding, but as he looked around for what was available in Utah, he found nothing that would suit his needs. Though there were temporary coding camps for kids, there was no permanent institution to help kids develop skills. He wanted there to be a community that would focus on the social aspects of business success and not only the technical aspects of coding. Though he was not a coder himself, he knew it would be amazing for his son.
A New Venture
In his research, Robins found a franchise based in Texas called Code Ninjas. It had all of the social aspects that he and his son were looking for…and killer branding. The centers were called “dojos, ” the instructors were “ senseis, ” and the students progressed in ranks, as in martial arts, from white belt to black belt. They even had promotion ceremonies, complete with the ringing of a gong, the breaking of a board with their hands, and the new belt presentation. Best of all, they had a fantastic concept: teaching kids how to code by teaching them how to create their own video games. To earn a black belt, a process which would take three to five years, students would have to create a game and publish it on one of the major app stores.
He flew down to Texas to meet with the owners in a bid to bring the franchise to Utah. He eventually succeeded, but as they were constructing their first location, questions lingered. At the forefront of his mind was the question, “Do other parents feel the same way that I do?”
To test that question, he had potential students and their parents tour their facility while still under construction and try out some of their programs. He described one family that came in and left in happy tears. They had been looking for something for their son to participate in and had tried so many things that had failed in the past. This would be the answer to their prolonged frustration.
Helping Everyone Meet Their Goals
In addition to Code Ninjas, Robins is involved in several other passion projects. He was an early investor in Blue Raven Solar (blueravensolar.com) helping to bring homes sustainable energy through solar projects. He has recently partnered with the founder of Fed Up (fedupkitchen.com) which provides macro-based healthy meals with locations opening in South Jordan and Orem in early 2021 and will also be building out a franchise system to take it nationwide. He has also invested in a special kind of rock-climbing gym, called Inspire Rock (inspirerock.com). This gym has two locations in Texas with future locations planned, whose owner founded it on principles focusing on personal development and goal accomplishment. He wants people to set high fitness goals and work consistently to meet those goals. It had the feeling of a supportive community and family and is excited for its expansion.
Through all his ups and downs, Robins provides encouragement and advice to those who are going down a similar path. “Be prepared for ups and downs. It’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. People usually only see the success. They don’t see the first few years and sacrifice of any new venture, only the success at the end. There have been years where I didn’t take pay and lost a lot in order for the companies to survive. You have to be willing to sacrifice, and you have to show up and work. The secret is hiring good people and truly caring for their success and not just your own. Surround yourself with good people, and then let them do their job. Oversee and help inspire, but don’t micromanage. When I find people that share the same mission and desires that I do, then allow them to soar, I’m amazed at what we can collectively accomplish. If you hire people who just want a job, they are going to fizzle out, ” he said. With so many passion projects to keep him busy, Robins shows no signs of fizzling out anytime soon.
Visit codeninjas.com to learn more.
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