In today’s tech-driven world, there is an abundance of exciting and financially rewarding job opportunities. However, if you’ve never worked in IT and lack relevant experience, breaking into tech can often seem like an unattainable goal. This sentiment holds especially true for aspiring DevOps professionals, who quickly realize that a mere certification won’t guarantee them a job.
Enter Darey.io, a trailblazing platform on a mission to bridge the gap between certifications and real-world expertise. Through its comprehensive program that combines mentorship, 30+ hands-on projects, and practical experience, students acquire the knowledge and skills to thrive in Cloud and DevOps.
In my conversation with Dare Olufunmilayo, the CEO of Darey.io, we delve into his unique tech journey, share some of the success stories of Darey.io students, and explore the recent launch of their new platform. Join us as we unravel the inspiring story behind Darey.io and uncover the key insights that can propel aspiring tech enthusiasts to a fulfilling and prosperous career.
Tell me about your journey into tech
Professionally, I’m a DevOps engineer. For those familiar with the field, you’ll know that being a DevOps engineer isn’t a specific role but rather a solution that enables organizations to release software rapidly and reliably. It encompasses various roles such as platform engineer, site reliability engineer, solutions architect, cloud engineer, and more. So when I say I’m a professional DevOps engineer, I’m referring to this wide spectrum of roles.
My journey into tech is quite unconventional as I didn’t obtain a formal education in computer science. I started my career as a businessman selling clothes, working as a fashion designer. However, after moving to the UK from Nigeria, I sought a more lucrative and stable path. I began by learning about databases and delving into SQL. This led me to become an Oracle database administrator and into big data. Then, I gradually transitioned into automation and cloud computing, and eventually DevOps.
Moreover, spanning from my early days at NHS, earning £250 per day, to my latest tech job, where I commanded £900 per day, my tech journey was shaped by a combination of self-taught skills, on-the-job training, and a dedicated pursuit of certifications.
What inspired you to create darey.io?
The inspiration behind darey.io stems from a shared experience many people face when aspiring to enter the tech industry.
Often when someone sets their sights on tech, they acquire certifications, buy courses on platforms like Udemy, or watch YouTube tutorials. And while these are all great and may feel rewarding upon completion, it’s not enough to convince an employer that you can do the job. In an interview, you will get questions relating to the real world, questions about experiences you can’t fake.
Having gone through my own fair share of challenges, when I found myself on the other side, interviewing people for my employer, I could see myself in many of the candidates. And it was then that it became evident that many candidates possessed theoretical or book knowledge rather than practical, real-world experience.
This realization compelled me to create darey.io. I wanted to provide people with the opportunity to gain real-world experience by working on projects that closely resemble actual industry scenarios. By doing so, they could confidently discuss these projects during interviews, demonstrating their ability to thrive in a professional setting.
Thus, darey.io was born. I started by creating various projects and a landing page for people to sign up. Now today, we have a team of 35+ people and over 2,700 active learners.
Tell me about the learning experience on darey.io
Our platform offers a combination of self-paced learning, including courses and projects, as well as live sessions. The courses consist of interactive educational videos that provide learners with the necessary knowledge to tackle specific projects. Learners then apply this knowledge to hands-on projects.
They also have the opportunity to join live classes where instructors guide them through projects, facilitating discussion and answering questions. We have 30 projects currently, and I can confidently say that after completing all 30 of our projects, you’ll have the equivalent of five years’ worth of experience.
What sets our platform apart is the supportive community we’ve built. As learners engage in projects, they may encounter challenges or roadblocks. To address this, we have a Slack channel where mentors and other learners participate. This creates a social learning environment, allowing students to share their questions and receive prompt responses from the community.
Additionally, learners can book 1:1 coaching with mentors if they require more personalized assistance beyond the group sessions and Slack channel.
We also have Knowledge Gap sessions where learners who have completed projects can host sessions to teach other students. This not only helps them reinforce their knowledge but also enables them to develop vital soft skills and the confidence necessary to obtain a job in tech.
Furthermore, we have daily standup sessions, simulating the workplace experience where students provide updates on their progress, such as completing a course or finishing a project.
Launching new platform
We are thrilled about the launch of our new platform. When we initially started darey.io, it was built on WordPress, which served its purpose for the initial phase but proved to be less scalable. Consequently, we recruited software and DevOps engineers to build our proprietary software.
With the launch of our new platform, we can create a comprehensive learning management system that aligns with our learners’ needs. For instance, Knowledge Gap sessions were previously conducted on external platforms like Zoom and Teams; everything will now take place directly within our platform.
Another reason we insisted on developing our own platform was to track and document the learning activities of our learners. This data allows us to create detailed profiles that we can leverage to help our learners secure job opportunities.
For example, let’s say a learner joins darey.io with zero experience and starts implementing projects in various domains like Linux, Docker, Kubernetes, and AWS. We can track their project engagement, time spent on tasks, and participation in helping other learners. Armed with this comprehensive profile, we can approach recruiters and showcase the talent and passion our learners possess.
Success stories from darey.io
We have had numerous success stories on darey.io. Let me highlight a couple:
Frantz joined us with an AWS Solutions Architect certification. He had been struggling to secure a job despite countless interviews. Feeling disheartened, he contemplated giving up on a tech career. However, after our conversation, he decided to give it one last try. He started working on projects, and to his amazement, he finally landed a job. I still have the screenshot from when he got his offer; he said, “Holy crap. It worked!”
Fabian was our first customer after launching the Wordpress landing page in 2020 and after completing projects on darey.io, he landed a $150,000-per-year job in the US. He couldn’t believe it when he got an offer because he had been trying to break into tech for so long. This kind of success story has been the experience of hundreds of other people in our community.
Another aspect of our success is our impact on Africans globally. People from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Kenya work remotely for US and European companies because of darey.io. And although only about 20% of our learners are based in Africa, most of our learners are of African origin.
A message to those looking to transition into tech
My message to anyone considering a transition into tech is: do not let anyone discourage you by saying it’s impossible due to your lack of background or formal education. I myself did not have a computer science degree, yet I achieved significant success in the industry. So, believe in yourself and your potential.
However, be prepared to put in the work. Transitioning into tech is not a walk in the park. I recall spending countless hours practicing and solving coding challenges in the library. There were sleepless nights, with solutions even coming to me in my dreams. But through consistent practice and dedication, you can attain a shiny new tech job.
Lastly, certifications are valuable but should not be your primary focus when starting out in tech. Instead, find a platform that can help you build practical skills. Once you have acquired the necessary knowledge and hands-on experience, you can pursue certifications to complement your practical expertise. Doing it the other way around, you’ll obtain a certification but lack the real-world experience needed to back it up.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building darey.io?
One of the most significant challenges I encountered was running the business while simultaneously updating projects and creating new courses. In the early years of darey.io, I still had a 9-5 job because I wanted to keep reinvesting in the platform and hire a team. Juggling these responsibilities was difficult.
However, as we grew, I could hire a COO and CTO and expand our team to over 25 people, including team leads, customer experience specialists, sales personnel, and others. Delegating these responsibilities and working collectively towards our mission has been instrumental in overcoming this challenge.
Another hurdle we faced was people stealing and attempting to resell our content. Fortunately, one of our vigilant students informed us about this intellectual theft. As a result, we implemented legal measures to safeguard our business and protect our intellectual property.
Open to investment and currently hiring
We are currently welcoming investment to expand our operations and make a more significant impact. At darey.io, we have been profitable since our inception. While our primary focus is on helping individuals succeed, it is important to note that we have also been successful in generating revenue. However, we aspire to accomplish even more, so we’re raising money.
We are also expanding our team and have exciting opportunities for software developers, sales professionals, and creative designers specializing in animations and motion graphics. We would love to hear from you if you possess the required skills and are passionate about our mission.
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