#HTML500 by the numbers, words, pictures


They came, they sat, and they coded. Vancouver hosted its second #HTML500, which happens to be stop number one of a four city tour this year. By all accounts this introductory day long coding event was another massive success.

It was a strong community showing from mentors and sponsors that made the day special.

“This is really important for Canada. The amount of people that can gain access to skills around coding is huge. It means more and more people can take control of their lives.” 

– Nik Badminton (Freelancer.com)

“We’re behind the event, because I believe in the importance of digital literacy, and that almost anyone can benefit from learning to code.”

– Craig Slagel (Founder RunGo)

“The HTML500 is an extremely important catalyst to start bringing awareness to how easy it is to learn how to code. Technology influences so many aspects of our lives, and this is the easiest way to get your hands dirty, feet wet, and introduced to code.”

– Ray Walia (Executive Dir. & Co-founder Launch Academy)

“We’re excited to be part of the community, and helping promote the message that learning to code at any age can be the key to a better collective future.”

– Morris Chapdelaine (Community Engagement Manager;B Cloud Innovation Center)

According to the organizers:

  • 2494 people applied to be among the lucky 500 participants.
  • While not recording breaking, the event  tied for a Guinness Book World record with 500 participants.
  • Exactly 50% female to male ratio, 40% students (high school and university)
  • 7% of participants were under 18
  • 25% were 18-24
  • 45% were 24-35
  • 20% were 36-60
  • 3% above the age of 60.
  • The youngest participant this year was 11.

Speaking of young, I spoke with Kai (soon to be 14 years old, the youngest event mentor and Lighthouse Lab graduate) who added,  “digital literacy is something really important. Having 500 people coming out to learn about coding is amazing. Knowing how to build stuff can be priceless in this day and age, and I’m excited to be helping people learn.”


From the participant perspective, a couple was kind enough to share their thoughts. Glen offered, “as a manager in the tech industry it’s important for me to understand what the coders are doing and how they’re doing it. I’ve been away from it for so long, it’s great having the chance to get re-connected and learn the basis of what’s new.”

“I came out with my two sons to spend the day with them and prove that I’m not too old to learn something new,” said Teresa.

Having City of Vancouver officials and the Province attending also highlighted the significance of the event, and the importance of  increasing digital literacy. Here’s their take on the day.

“This event has significant value. We have a digital strategy in Vancouver with 9 big goals and two of them are being met here today. The digital economy of a growing part of the Vancouver economy, and it’s why our local headlines aren’t about plummeting oil prices and huge layoffs. The diversification of our economy makes us more resilient. As a globally focused economy we’re challenged in finding the workers who are the right fit, and the HTML500 is a small but right step in the right direction.”

– Andrea Reimer (City of Vancouver Deputy Mayor)


“I’m overwhelmed at the prospect of over 2300 people wanting to learn about coding. In particular, hats off to the 120 mentors because I look at success not about where you’ve reached in life but how have you helped others. This is about realizing the tech industry isn’t just about hiring techies, but it’s about helping provide people with a wide variety of skills to support the industry, and improving digital literacy is an important consideration.”

– MLA: Hon. Amrik Virk (Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services)

“We couldn’t be happier about supporting this event for it’s second straight year. I see opportunity knocking. I see 500 people taking a day to learn the basics for whatever their future endeavours, be it running their own business, wanting to join the tech sector, or just to improve their daily lives. It great seeing the community coming together to help further develop digital literacy and to help connect people with jobs.”

– Ian McKay (Chief Executive Officer Vancouver Economic Commission)

Calgary is happening on the 31st, London, ON. February 7th, and wrapping up in Toronto on February 22nd. Vancouver’s set a very high bar, so here’s hoping to an equal amount of enthusiasm and support from everyone the other side of the Rockies.

Images courtesy John Gray and Miya Gu.


John Gray

John Gray is the co-founder and CEO of Mentionmapp. As a writer, John cares about keeping the humanity in our stories and conversations about technology. He has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.

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