Makai HR Hawaii Business Owner Spotlight: DevLeague

August 5, 2018 Written by Oralie Chapman

One of the best things about providing outsourced human resources services on Oahu is getting to know the local business owners who run these companies. Hawaii’s diverse business community is close knit and teaming with talent. We hope you find their insights as interesting as we do!


For our first Hawaii business owner spotlight we interviewed DevLeague co-founder Russel Cheng. Here is the Q & A:


Q. What is DevLeague?

A. DevLeague is a bootcamp style tech school that provides students with advanced technical training and skill development for technology based careers. Students learn about cyber security, Javascript web engineering or big data analysis in a 16-week or 30-week bootcamp. Founders, Russel Cheng and Jason Sewell launched DevLeague on August 9, 2013 and the first students graduated in April, 2014. 


Q. Where are you from and what brought you and Jason together?

A. Russel Cheng was born and raised in Hawaii but spent 16 years away in Japan and Singapore before returning in 2007. Jason Sewell is from Colorado and moved to Hawaii about 15 years ago. Both men are natural entrepreneurs, each with several successful startups under their belts. 


They met in 2013 at a networking event when Russel was trying to make his sixth startup work; Jason came on board to try and rescue the company. With a shared love of technology and desire to give back while running a successful business, they decided to launch DevLeague. 


Q. What is DevLeague’s mission?

A. “Our mission is to give people the skills they need to start a well-paying career in the tech sector. The job market is at an interesting intersection where people want tech skills because they provide mobility. Technology now allows people to work from all over the world, which wasn’t possible even 15 years ago.”


Q. What kind of students come to DevLeague?

A. “Many of DevLeague’s students come from an unsatisfying career after completing a traditional college degree; we refer to these students as ‘switchers.’ They are looking for more from their career and find it with a new start in DevLeague’s coding bootcamp.” Others come with an interest in tech and without a college background. Said Cheng, “Not everyone can afford college; DevLeague is an affordable alternative to college that provides the skills employers are looking for. We screen for students who have the motivation, attitude and aptitude to succeed in our courses and in the workforce.”


Q. What skills are students learning over the 16-week bootcamp?

A. “Hard coding skills in cyber security and web development are the core of what we teach our students but we also recognize the importance of soft skills. We teach our students to collaborate and set an example through our company culture of not being the ‘jerk in the office’ and treating others like we want to be treated.

While we are not a job placement agency we do take pride in helping our graduates get hired at a great career after they leave our classrooms. We teach interview and resume writing skills, strategies on how to apply for jobs and how to setup their own company.”


Q. Congratulations on being honored for providing training for well-paying careers in Hawaii. What does that mean to you?

A. “We are proud to be problem solving the gap between the skills that employers need and the availability of skilled workers. We are trying do our part to invest in human capital.”


Q. How can a high school student wanting technical training get involved with Jr. DevLeague?

A. Jr. DevLeague was created to bring technical education to Hawaii’s youth and their teachers. We hold classes that focus on cyber security and web development at several schools in Oahu. They begin during middle school and continue through high school; preparing students for a technical career or giving them a base of skills before entering university. These goals are accomplished in three ways:

  • Elective public school classes
  • Public school teacher training sessions
  • Jr. DevLeague Academy, run at our downtown campus, is where parents send their kids on weekends. 

Students who are looking for comprehensive technical training can ask their instructors about bringing Jr. DevLeague to their school, or they can join one of Jr. DevLeagues Academy courses.


Q. Any recent exciting developments?

A. “On the adult side, we just got our Cyber Security bootcamp added to the list of courses eligible to receive GI Bill funding. We also recently partnered with HTDC to become an education provider for the DLIR Employment Training Fund, which is a grant that covers 50% of the cost of our Prep programs for employers to send their employees to DevLegue. On our Jr. side, we just helped pass legislation to get tech funding in state schools and we were called this morning to return as a partner with the third annual statewide Hackathon.”


Q. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

A. “Our greatest accomplishment is seeing DevLeague graduates getting career starts in the tech sector. We are building a community/network of graduates who help each other land tech jobs.

We are proud that students come to study at DevLeague from all over the world and that more and more graduates are being recruited by major big tech companies around the world.”


Q. What has been your greatest challenge?

A. Finding talented employees and students who believe in our mission and want to be part of the community/network we are building.


Q. What advise do you have for others wanting to launch a startup business?

A. “Just start! Build something that people want and that they will pay for…be able to break a problem into smaller pieces and see the green landing strip. One of the reasons that I chose to partner with Makai HR is because I liked that they took action on a vision to fill a need for so many businesses, including ours.”

You can find more information about the DevLeague program at:


Makai HR is proud to provide outsourced HR services to DevLeague.