Some people don’t care how things work, as long as they work when they need them to work. I’m not one of those people.
I always had a passion for science and technology. I never underestimated how complex the products I used on a daily basis were. My curiosity in understanding and building something from initial-concept to final-product was the driving force behind my decision to complete my undergrad in mechanical engineering. My thought was “teach me how things work, so that I have the tools to build something myself”.
That same passion was what recently led me to Bitmaker Labs. Let me tell you how.
A couple of years ago, I teamed up with some smart guys to start the tech company SkyPrep - a SaaS platform that enables businesses to train, test and certify their employees. When starting the company, we set out to alleviate a particular pain point for businesses - employee training. Companies paid too much, with too little ROI, to train their employees, so we set out to develop a solution that addressed that need.
Our solution ending up being a cloud-based training software built in Ruby on Rails which is (from what I understood), the best and most scalable framework for web apps. I was not a developer but nevertheless, our team developed a product that hundreds of companies now pay us to use because we help them improve their training while reducing their costs.
As a founding member of this company though, I felt a bit in the dark since my technical skills didn’t reside in the domain of software development. I sold a product, but I required my partners to explain to me how the internals of my product worked. Mind you, lots of CEOs and founders of tech companies are fine with not knowing their own product inside-out - but I’m not one of them. I decided that while I didn’t necessarily need to become a full-time developer myself, I did need to be able to direct and instruct the developers working at my company.
A colleague of mine then made me aware of Bitmaker Labs. I didn’t know what Bitmaker was, but was intrigued by the value proposition - that being in nine short weeks, I would be a full-stack web developer. A web developer well versed in Rails. A web developer who understands databases. A web developer that would return to SkyPrep with the the know-how to improve the software himself.
My initial thought was that I didn’t need to do this, that we could always hire developers. The more I thought about it though, the more my itch to understand software development grew and the more I was convinced that my full-blown understanding of web apps would allow SkyPrep to scale and grow in the best way for the company.
When you own a business, it’s difficult to leave it for nine weeks. But in the grand scheme of things, nine weeks is a small investment to make when the asset you return with provides such enormous long-term value. I decided to enroll in the January 2014 Bitmaker cohort and am now three weeks in. Frankly, I’m a bit shocked as to how much coding I’ve already learned since mid January, but even more anxious to see where I’ll be six weeks from now. An amazing experience thus far and excited for what’s next!