LONG GROVE, Ill. — Nestled in a strip mall, next to a hardware store, is one of the hottest kid classes in the Chicago area.
Using martial arts as a foundation, students at Code Ninjas work their way up through the colored belts and are guided by the senseis looking over their shoulders.
For owners, Nawroz and ” Zeeshan Bhimji, the franchised business is a culmination of everything they dreamed of.
They met as teens and were brought to the United States by their parents seeking better education and opportunities for their children.
"Like so many immigrants, our parents wanted the American Dream for us,” Pirani said.
The teens became fast friends. Both graduated from DePaul with degrees in business and financing. They found success in the workforce but still dreamed of something more.
It was a coding boot camp at Northwestern that sparked the idea: What if they could give other kids a leg up, similar to the same kind of opportunities they received?
That was the beginning of what is now Code Ninjas.
"We can now turn around and mentor other young people and try to make an impact,” Pirani said.
Taking what is foreign and making it not only understandable but fun.
"The reception we're getting from parents in the community is just awesome,” Pirani said.
To the kids, it's play — and that's the point.
"They're like, ‘Look I coded something! I literally built this video game myself!’” Bhimji said. “That's the beauty of it. They're learning but don't even realize it. .. I was just blown away to have an 8-year-old say that they're coding. It's just unbelievable. It really is.”
Business at their village of Long Grove location has been so good that the duo is now planning on opening two more, one in Arlington Heights and the other in Lincoln Park, by next year.