- What were you doing before joining Makers Academy?
Until July 2014, I was MD of a translation agency which I tried to acquire. The deal eventually fell through after 12 months and I left the business to ponder about what I should do with my career from there. Having fallen out of love with the industry, I knew that I would have to do something radically different that would retain my interest.
- What made you want to start learning to code in the first place?
I've had an obsession with technology from a very young age. I loved computer games and later computers. My mum and step dad had both worked in software sales at one point or another which is how I started to see tech as a fun way to make money. During my time in the translation industry, I sold and implemented technologies for enterprise but none of the products that was on the market really turned me on. I wanted to gain the power to build my own stuff. Being able to code gives you the tools to turn your ideas in to a tangible thing that people can interact with. How cool is that?
- How did you come across Makers Academy and what made you decide to apply to the programming course?
I had previously met Evgeny at a couple of London startup events and he told me about Makers. I won't lie, I was sceptical as Maths and Physics were probably my weakest subjects at school. I also could not see a way to take three months out of my career to make it happen so I parked the idea. Since I was 'taking a break' from August 2014, I decided it was now or never and so I finally bit the bullet and sent in my application.
- What did you find difficult during the course?
Everything! To some extent, my suspicions about my natural ability to code were confirmed when I struggled with some of the core concepts. I am extremely impatient and coding, especially debugging requires a huge amount of patience. Initially, I also found myself competing against my peers as I have a very competitive nature. It felt very unsettling to suddenly be in an environment where I was not top of the class. Although it got easier with time, I would say that I was deeply humbled by the whole experience.
- What happened during / after graduation?
I decided not to take a break and threw myself in to my new project. I am currently working on scoping my MVP (Minimum Valuable Product) I also worked out a lot to shift the extra stone I gained during the course. It seems that coding can make you fat! I then however got accepeted onto entrepreneur first as one of only 3 women on the cohort of 34 and they had more than 5000 applicants.
- What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who might be considering to join Makers Academy?
Definitely do it if you plan to start a tech business! You should learn to code because you can't sail a ship unless you know how that ship works. It also does not hurt to develop empathy with your team and the process for developing amazing products. Learning what bullshit smells like removes a layer of doubt and vulnerability for a founder who is hiring. That said, I believe very strongly in the importance of a founding team. I am now able to build a MVP to show to potential co-founders which makes my venture a more attractive proposition.
- How has learning to code help you become a better entrepreneur?
I am better equipped to make some initial technology decisions myself and am empowered to start building something without depending on others. The thought of outsourcing to a dev shop or freelancer always filled me with dread because I would have had no idea what bad looks like.
- What would you say to people who say £8000 is very expensive?
Depends how you look at it. For most people (including myself), 8k is a lot of money. The cost is actually much higher than that if you take in to account living expenses, loss of earnings etc. In my opinion, I think that the course is excellent value for the money you pay. That does not make it inexpensive but it means that you definitely get what you pay for. If anyone is unsure, they just need to look at the quality of the final projects..
- Sum up your Makers Academy experience?
The twelve most intense, insanely challenging and rewarding weeks of my life!