Whenever I type the letter ‘k’ into my browser’s address field, I tend to find that Google Chrome auto-completes it with the complete ‘Kickstarter.com’ URL. This usually brings a smile to my face, as to my mind this represents an objective recognition of the fact that I play an active role in supporting new enterprises and their products. Or maybe it doesn’t. In any case, I do regularly log on to the Kickstarter website, if only to satisfy my curiosity with what the (possible) technologies of tomorrow will look like. Although I am very picky with which projects I deem worthy of support – bear in mind I have only supported two so far – I have supported one project called ‘Coding for Entrepreneurs’, which Great Preneur readers may find interesting for several reasons.
As I am acutely aware, having considered many a tech startup idea myself, it can be extremely difficult for non-programmers to get an idea of what is possible with programming. Features that may seem routine to a layman, like making a pretty custom website for example, can be very time-consuming. Conversely, building features that people may think of as complex, like a database search feature for example, can actually be pretty straightforward. Also, the mere fact that one lacks the technical abilities to create what one needs can be enough to put the would-be entrepreneur off his enterprise entirely, perhaps feeling that he or she should not try their hand at something they do not have any expertise in whatsoever – a sentiment which, taken on its own, we don’t necessarily disagree with. Having said that though, there is no reason why any enterprising young (or even old) person shouldn’t be able to teach themselves these highly transferable technical skills, seeing how vital they can be to the running of a startup.
It is precisely this problem that drove Justin Mitchel to create Coding for Entrepreneurs. Through this series of four courses, he offers entrepreneurs four different pathways – each containing a progression of specialised short video tutorials – to get them going, by teaching them the skills, and only those skills, that the entrepreneur will need in building the software side of their business. Because this problem struck such a resonant chord with me, I immediately decided to fund this project, in accordance with my (admittedly rather limited) means.
As mentioned above, there are four separate courses in the series: a basic and full version of Coding for Entrepreneurs (1 & 2), Website Design for Entrepreneurs (3), and finally an as of yet unfinished course specialising in creating dating and social websites called Coding for Entrepreneurs: MatchMaker and GeoLocator (4). Although the basic Coding for Entrepreneurs and Website Design for Entrepreneurs courses (1 and 3) are available free of charge, the more advanced courses charge a fee of $75 each. Initially, I thought that quite expensive, but after a quick search for ‘coding’ courses on udemy.com, it seems like CfE is actually quite reasonably priced – especially when compared to some other programming courses (I am reminded of not one, but several $499 courses – all on the first results page. I shudder to think what lies on the remaining 20+ pages).
Although at the moment I can’t justify spending whatever the British equivalent of $75 is on the full course, I have taken the first few lectures of the basic (and more importantly: free) version. As a novice to the world of programming myself I cannot say very much about the quality of the actual materials and whether it can be taught better or in a more effective way, but I will say that I have found the lectures very easy, clear and simple. The videos are succinct and deal with only one topic at a time. I also enjoy the fact that Justin doesn’t try to shelter the student from potentially overwhelming programming environments, but gives very clear instructions on where to download everything and how to instal them; something which my only other programming learning experience (on Codecademy.com) seemed to shy away from by containing everything in a browser. This did make things easier to begin with, but it had the very obvious drawback that after a while although you felt like you had learnt some useful programming skills, you didn’t know how to actually put them into practice outside the Codecademy browser environment. Thus in that sense, although CfE does throw you in at the deep end, it holds your hand at the same time. For my part, I am determined to follow the introductory course through to the end. Depending how that turns out, I may well decide to purchase the full course. If I do so, I will be sure to write about it right here, on GreatPreneurs.com.