The University of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center already had most of the key ingredients for making great startups: brilliant students, innovative faculty research, and strong IP. But without dedicated technical talent, they were unable to rapidly create and iterate on technical products without involving expensive developers. That’s why they decided to run a private Bubble Bootcamp: to rapidly teach startups how to create robust software products without writing a single line of code.

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The IDEA Center is the fundamental resource for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities at the University of Notre Dame.

"The IDEA Center stands for Innovation, De-Risking and Enterprise Acceleration."

Before working with Bubble, the IDEA center had very limited access to technical resources. There were few computer science students willing and able to work with the startups, and the alternative was spending money on freelance developers.

"At the idea stage of a startup, it is often a waste of time and resources to hire a full-time developer, which will cost you tens of thousands of dollars and a serious chunk of equity," explained Benjamin Hoggan, a director at the IDEA Center.

The IDEA Center decided to work with Bubble to host a private no-code Bootcamp where its students could learn Bubble skills and build their ideas toward launch-ready MVPs. They ran the program in the spring of 2021 for eight of their seed-stage startups. Students were able to iterate quickly, and with live instruction from a Bubble expert, they were able to rapidly apply new skills and ask questions as they built.

“Our partnership with Bubble has created tremendous value for the Notre Dame entrepreneurial community."

The eight-person Bootcamp covered:

  • Understanding web apps, navigating Bubble, and outlining MVPs
  • Modeling and operating on data
  • Handling data and utilizing conditional logic
  • Creating frontend and backend workflows
  • Building with Styles and responsive design
  • Extending apps with APIs and plugins
  • Testing and debugging apps
  • Optimizing an app’s performance and capacity

All eight companies launched robust MVPs after just four weeks. One company, HelloFrom, raised $500,000 within a few months of launching their modern greeting card company. Using Bubble, they went from texting customers pictures of anniversary cards to a fully functioning platform for personal greeting cards. Another team that built a ride share app was able to go further than the MVP stage, hitting a revenue milestone of $15,000 with Bubble. Every single student is now equipped with the necessary skills to create software products and services.

The IDEA Center didn't stop at teaching Bubble to students, though; for the last year, they've been using a Bubble-built student onboarding platform. On it, students can quickly access learning materials like videos and PowerPoints, and administrators save hours in onboarding time. Hoggan uses another Bubble app for his accelerator program, which uses web scrapers and Notre Dame's alumni network to match high-performing student entrepreneurs with suitable accelerators. "When [Bubble] works, it works really well, and it tends to virally populate outward,” Hoggan said. “Our partnership with Bubble has created tremendous value for the Notre Dame entrepreneurial community."

The IDEA Center ran two successful private Bootcamps in 2021, and a local entrepreneurship organization that the IDEA Center works with was inspired to launch their own private Bubble course. They've already started their 2022 Bootcamp programming with plans for one other private Bootcamp in 2022. We can’t wait to see what their students do next!