4 Weeks from Beginner to Self-Starter

LAB4 is an intensive 4-week program for motivated, self-directed learners without prior coding experience or formal computer science training. We help you jumpstart your online learning journey, or prepare for more formal bootcamp training, thanks to an in-person, friendly group setting.

What is LAB4?

The LAB4 program is our new pre-bootcamp program for self-directed learners looking for a concentrated introduction to the world of computing and of accelerated learning. It’s a 4-week primer for those without the programming background or financial resources to attend a coding bootcamp.

We help you prepare for any coding bootcamp, or kickstart a completely self-directed learning path—the choice is yours. As you learn programming online, we help you orient yourself in the programming world, help you sharpen your problem-solving and self-learning skills, and get you to practice your networking and presentation chops. You’ll graduate with a personal coding project under your belt.

LAB4 perfectly complements online and offline programming courses, turning any self-paced learning program into blended learning by adding community into the mix.

Self-directed learners

Self-directed learners are learners who have been studying on their own, building their own ideal curriculum, and are guided by their own motivation on their learning path. You mostly use online courses, videos and (e)books for learning. LAB4 needs to be complemented with your own curriculum. As self-directed learners, you ask questions to determine where to go next on your learning path.

You will write up a Learning Contract with yourself to help you focus on reaching your objectives. This living document can be adjusted as you go; scrap what doesn’t work and double-down on what does. It reflects your own commitment to yourself.

To help you write your learning contract, we’ll have workshops on effective goal-setting and how to decide whether a goal is worth pursuing, whether now or in the future.


We all learn from each other, through the Learning Circle. You bring to the circle all your knowledge and wisdom, resources and experiences, and share them with your peers.

If you make two lists of what you bring to and what you need from the circle, don’t be surprised if the first list is a lot longer than the second! This also means that you’re not passively sitting in a classroom, you need to be active participants for the Learning Circle to be effective and self-directing. You are actively involved in your own and others’ successes.

The Learning Circle is where you ask for help from the group when you’re stuck on something. Asking for help isn’t as straightforward as you might think! We use an Agile Agenda and the Ways to Ask for Help to make sure all questions are addressed by the end of each session.

Project-based learning

This being an intensive introductory program, the projects you will be doing to ramp up your journey of self-learning will be short and targeted by nature.

As a final challenge, choose a personal project to build on as you go, to show off your newly acquired skills. The projects are important because they make our learning concrete in a real-world setting.

To help you learn to move forward on any project, you’ll have several hands-on workshops dedicated to design thinking techniques.

Collaborative learning

Often the best way to solidify what you’ve learned is by teaching it to someone who has yet to learn it. And someone who just grasped a subject that you’re still struggling with can explain it much better than someone with lots of experience, who might take any frustrating gotchas for granted without seeing the need to explain. This is why collaborative learning is so important, together we learn more efficiently!

You are encouraged to initiate and attend off-site study group sessions. To these study groups you may invite mentors, previous participants or others from the community at large.


Our mission at Les Pitonneux is to fill the skills gap in tech by closing the diversity gap. We value everyone’s experience as relevant to the wider group experience. Participants in our programs come from all walks of life, regardless of gender, age, cultural or religious background, ability, etc. Half of participants are women, and many are newcomers to Montréal or Canada. We challenge the stereotype of who can code.

In sum

So with LAB4, you will be greatly increasing the odds of success on your self-directed journey of learning to program. After this intensive month with us, you should be able to complete online courses in Javascript, Python, or any other language of your choosing. In fact, it is our sincere hope that the confidence you build with us will carry over, not only to you achieving success with online courses, but to landing internships and that first programming job—and more generally, to any other fields you choose to further learn and develop. You are now a part of the tech and startup community, and we hope that we will have made inclusion and diversity your default setting, making the community as a whole that much the richer for it.

  • 🗓 16 January – 7 February 2019 on Wednesdays and Thursdays (daytime sessions of 4 hours)
  • 📍 Notman House (51 Sherbrooke West) and other locations in Montréal
  • 🕑 A minimum of 30 hours a week time commitment outside of the daytime sessions
  • 💲 Cost: $900 for the full 4 weeks
Register Here

Who are we?

We are passionate about self-directed learning and about acquiring new skills to make ideas come to life. Since 2016 we have been helping people gain a new superpower—the power of learning to learn how to code.

Profile of Roberta

After leaving behind a career in the game industry, she thought a talent incubator might be a great place to learn to code, if only it existed. And so now it does, after a whole community made it happen. Roberta has been helping others make a career change since 2015. Previously worked at Ubisoft, Orange/France Telecom and other companies, and designed retro game controllers and arcade cabinets. Currently learning Python and Data Science.

Roberta Voulon

Learning Circle Facilitator @ Les Pitonneux

Christine is a Stanford graduate in Computational Mathematics, a Rhodes Scholar who studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford and a Mechanical Engineer from McGill. Her extensive experience in the private sector includes being a consultant at McKinsey & Co and a flight simulator software developer at CAE. Unusually, she is also an apprentice car mechanic. By choice she has had to practice ramping up quickly to a new domain. She is keen on sharing her learning tricks with others through our LAB4 program.

Christine Soon Desmarais

Learning Circle Facilitator @ Les Pitonneux

Profile of Paolo

Your startup mentor, Paolo, has designed products from scratch, and has growth hacked for companies such as the Stanford Research Institute, Dow Chemicals and Intel. In addition to giving you a framework for developing an MVP, hiring the right developers, and UX design he will also help you nail job interviews, make your resumes amazing and boost your confidence. Proficient in: Javascript(React.js), HTML/CSS, responsive design, analytics, growth hacking and UXD.

Paolo Melgarejo

CEO @ Stealth Company

Profile of Andre

As a software engineer with over 20 years of experience at top companies such as IBM and Morgan Stanley, his wealth of experience will be invaluable to help you think like a software engineer and become a better problem solver. His expertise includes: Javascript, Node, Java, database design, software architecture and security. He’s also the VP of technical development at Otakuthon, one of the world’s largest anime conventions.

Andre-John Mas

CTO @ AI Medical Startup

Profile of Etienne

Recognized by Google as an expert in Android and Android Things, he’s a speaker at Android conferences in Europe and North-America, including Droidcon and Google I/O. He is an instructor at Caster.io and has been creating mixed reality experiences through non-profit Osmos Academy as a co-founder. He can help you with best practices on developing Android applications, whether that’s a mobile app or an IoT device or a VR experience.

Étienne Caron

Mobile Lead Developer @ Shopify