Codementor, an open marketplace for one-on-one programming help, is now open to the public after finishing a three-month stint at Techstars Seattle. The site connects users with experts in a wide range of programming languages for situations ranging from emergency debugging to more in-depth tutoring.
Founder Weiting Liu, whose previous startups include SocialPicks, a Y Combinator-backed stock investing community that was acquired by Financial Content Services in 2009, says Codementor is the kind of resource he wished he had when he was learning how to code.
While in Techstars, Liu and other members of Codementors’ founding team spent a lot of time talking to customers and developers in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe, to find out what they wanted from the service. As a result of the feedback, Liu says Codementor now makes it priority to match up users with experts as quickly as possible. Half of Codementors’ experts are based in the U.S., but there are also developers in Europe and Asia.
Users can decide if they want to connect with an online expert immediately or book a later appointment with someone else.
Codementor’s 500 experts were selected from a pool of 2,500 applicants. As part of the vetting process, each developer fills out an extensive application form, including links to their GitHub, LinkedIn, and Stack Overflow profiles. Mentors are also picked based on how many years of experience they have. The site’s review system phases developers out of the platform if they get consistently low ratings and it has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
As more people learn how to code, there is an increasingly wide number of resources available to help them. Other peer-to-peer services for online programming advice that TechCrunch has covered include HackHands and Airpair.
Liu says Codementor wants to differentiate by offering help for a wide range of programming languages and letting experts set their own rates sessions in 15-minute increments, allowing for more flexibility. Rates currently begin at a minimum of about $10 for 15-minutes, while some of the more experienced mentors charge an equivalent of a $60 to $100 hourly rate.
“We have O’Reilly authors and top users on Stack Overflow, so the world-class experts do charge a higher rate and they deserve it,” says Liu. “But we also enable a long tail of developers who are great developers in their own right, but not as well-known, to charge a fair rate.”
One of the site’s most popular experts, Arlo Carreon, is a frontend developer at Amazon. In an email, Carreon said that he says Codementor as an extension of his blog and podcasting.
“The users have real problems and are truly appreciative. It’s a win-win all around,” he says.
Liu says one of Codementor’s most active users is a partner at a 20-person firm who built an internal customer-relationship management system by himself. Whenever he ran into an issue, he would log onto Codementor and look for someone to help him as quickly as possible.
But users don’t just ask for debugging help. Codementor’s clients include tech companies that want advice on specific projects or situations, but can’t offer the minimum hours that many consultants require.
Other users include novice or intermediate developers, including entrepreneurs that are building their first mobile or Web apps.
“For the people who are relatively new, they sometimes don’t ask the right questions, which makes it harder for them to find the right answer on Stack Overflow,” says Liu. “They think the issue is X, but they might be incorrect. So the mentor explains the whole situation to them.”
While in beta, Liu says the number of sessions grew 40% month-over-month and Codementor is on track for a “breakout month” in March, with 90% of sessions rated five stars.
“A lot of experts enjoy helping each other and Codementor allows them to earn a side income, too,” he says.