Interview with Peter Fabian, co-founder of PIPELINE DATA ENGINEERING ACADEMY

Launching an innovative online coding bootcamp in Berlin

garage: Please give us a short intro about yourself!

My name is Peter Fabian, I originally come from Hungary but I’ve been living in Berlin for almost 10 years now with my family. I am an economist and a teacher by trade, and I’ve been building and managing cutting-edge digital products and services for most of my career. I am deeply interested in identifying and contextualising future market opportunities that emerge from technological and societal change.

2020 I’ve co-founded Pipeline Academy, the world’s first coding bootcamp focusing on data engineering together with my friend and business partner Daniel Molnar.

.garage: What is data engineering?

Data engineering is one of the most essential yet overlooked functions in the data ecosystem: data engineers are responsible for designing, building and maintaining data infrastructures — they solve data-related engineering problems, and talk a lot along the way. They are responsible for making sure that data is available for use by data analysts, data scientists, or basically anyone relevant inside and outside of a company.

.garage: Why is data engineering so important for the future?

Today, organisations are betting on moving systematically towards more data-driven decisions, meaning that they acquire and collect data from various different sources, and do their best to generate actionable insights leveraging it. The amount of available data has been exploding with the number of sensors and digital interfaces that we carry around in our pockets. In order make use of it, companies need people who are able to manage the complex and constantly changing nature of this ecosystem. This trend is unlikely to change anytime soon, therefore with Pipeline Academy we’ve created an accessible way of learning data engineering with sustainability and pragmatism as the main focus.

.garage: How did the coaching contribute to the founding of Pipeline Academy?

I am a first-time founder, and as it turns out navigating the quirky bureaucratic labyrinth of the German administrative system when founding a company comes with a bunch of challenges that are difficult to anticipate. The professional experience of the coaches at the .garage was indeed very useful when tackling the first hurdles, and an external perspective can come in really handy when you are being so focused on getting the ball rolling. Also, some connections that have been made there turned out to be pivotal for our success.

The biggest challenge

.garage: Tell us about the biggest challenges concerning the founding of Pipeline Academy.

2020 was a challenging year for most of us. The uncertainty resulting from COVID forced everybody to constantly adapt to the ever-changing rules of the game called life, and try to predict what comes next. In our case changing how our service is delivered, how our marketing is executed, and how we deal with managing our private lives and work in parallel were the biggest concern that kept us (and still keep us) on our feet.

.garage: How did COVID impact the industry you are in? How did you adapt?

Initially the plan was to go with the traditional classroom-experience (so basically a classic three-month coding bootcamp training) and move towards digital platforms at a later stage. Yet COVID has forced us to go fully online, and I am glad to say that we’ve made it work. This format enables people to join our course from across the globe, and works for demographies (e.g. parents, people with a full-time job) that would not be able to attend it otherwise as well.

.garage: What are your plans for the future?

We’re working on making sure that more people get to have access to the benefits of learning data engineering. These competencies are extremely sought-after in today’s job market, and my task is to make sure that with new formats and corporate cooperations Pipeline Academy enables motivated individuals to put themselves in a better socioeconomic position than before. To give you an example: given the increasing demand coming from the US, we are launching a part-time program starting January 2022.

.garage: What are you the most proud of when it comes to Pipeline Academy?

There are plenty of things I am grateful for: first and foremost our graduates, who have trusted us, played along, and ended up in amazing positions after the course; my partnership with my-cofounder Daniel, who has been nothing short of brilliant and strong throughout this journey; the fact that we’ve built a really unconventional, forward-thinking indie school from ground up that produces real positive impacts on the life of others. I am very grateful for the support that we’ve received from parts of the data engineering community (some of whom are our regular guest speakers the course), and my family’s constant encouragement. It’s truly rewarding.

.garage: What kind of advice would you give other people thinking about founding their own business?

Do your research, start small, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, expect the unexpected and get used to leaving your comfort zone… I have a lot more of these platitudes. But on a more serious note: if you have the opportunity to build something new, do your diligence first, keep an open mind, listen to what the market is telling you, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.