This weekend(Memorial Day weekend) was really exciting for me. I built and accidentally launched nomadiccodeschool.com. It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride so I figured I would tell you my exciting story:
Recently I started listening to The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau for the fourth time. It got me thinking about new business ideas. Around Thursday night when I had the light bulb moment:
I love to code, travel, meet new people, teach, and learn... I should create some type of Nomadic Code School!
I have a lot of experience setting up dev teams and training up really junior level developers to be effective. I even wrote an article a while back on learning to code the MEAN stack. It got good traction and was crawling its way up the google search ranking. Recently I had decided to take some time to refine the content from the article and convert it into a free opensource project to teach people to code the MEAN Stack(Still in the process, its extremely rough right now).
Day 1 - Friday:
The thought bounced around my head all night until Friday morning at 5am when I usually wake up. I jumped on the hashtagnomads.com chat and started to catch up on the chatter from the previous day when I saw a Noah Kagan's post on how he launched sumojerky.com in 24 hours. I had listened to a podcast with Noah and Tim Ferriss that was amazing so I was ready to devour anything Noah had to say on the subject. Reading the post really lit a fire under my ass to get this started.
At 6am I started looking for domains when I settled on the obvious and simple title of Nomadic Code School. The domain was available so I bought it instantly. Then I went to work setting up a squarespace.com landing page.
By 9am I had a raw brain dump of my idea in the form of a webpage when I had to switch gears to my CTO responsibilities for townsqua.re.
You should know something about when I write copy or anything for that matter: I don't know if it is my dyslexia or what but I am no good with grammar and spelling. Give me numbers and code over a spelling bee any day.
There were no dates, no rates, just an email signup form, a couple of my old Facebook cover photos as backgrounds, and my copy. That is how I left it at 9am.
Around noon when I decided to take lunch I quietly post it around. I did a post on Hacker News that immediately went to the bottom with no up votes. This was not surprising. Then I did another on Reddit. I also Facebook messaged a couple of friends to bounce the idea off of then then went back to work on townsqua.re.
Later that afternoon I had to catch a bus to Milwaukee to visit my family for the holiday weekend. The bus was too cramped to get my laptop out so I used my phone to check on the status of my posts. It was then that I realized I had actually got some traction.
There were tons of great comments and feedback almost none of it negative. They helped me identify different pricing strategies, reservations I would need to address before I could sell, and potential competitors and partners. It was amazing.
Then it happened... I looked at my email(which I typically only do once a day) and saw I got my first email signup. I know email signups are not a big deal, it's not even a sale but it still feels good. Then I saw another, and another, and another.
I have launched a lot of half baked product validation landing pages for all sorts of stuff:
- Fitness apps
- Online retail stores
- Trilateration as a Service
The list goes on but I never got a reaction like this before. People were excited. They were genuinely interested. My heart was pumping. I responded to the comments on the Reddit thread with enthusiasm.
We were almost to Milwaukee when I check my email again and saw it:
Hi Matt, (I'd originally tried sending this via the NCS' form, but it appears to be broken.) I'm writing a post about this right now and was wondering how much you might expect one of these camps to cost? Do you have a sampling of hypothetical destinations? Where did the idea come from? Thanks, ...
I quickly researched the sender and to my excitement he was an editor for motherboard.tv. I responded immediately answering as much as I could via the tiny phone keyboard and promised to answer the rest as soon as I could get on my laptop.
Now I have been in the press before once or twice but never have I gotten interest from the press so quickly. From two quiet little posts at noon to requests from the press for an article they were writing on the project by 7PM. I was almost dizzy with excitement.
Day 2 - Saturday:
I woke up with the intention of going for a run and doing some bodyweight exercises in a near by park. I stopped myself from even opening up my laptop for even a quick peek because I knew I would get drawn in and end up skipping the run.
Instead I got my running shoes on and all set to go before I started to check things on my phone. A handful of new signups and a couple of contact form emails from people looking to help teach. "Wow" was all I could think.
During my run I finished listening to The $100 Startup. When I got back home from my run I jumped online to check on things. The article on motherboard.tv was live: 'Nomadic Code School' Is Kind of a Good Idea.
This is when I decided to take the conversation from the niche forums to the public so I started to share nomadiccodeschool.com on my various networks. Oddly enough a post I had done earlier in the week about how I quit drinking soda still has more likes on Facebook, don't ask me how.
Part of me felt guilty for not working on townsqua.re stuff because we were in a solid sprint to push out new features but my main laptop was dead and my desktop was back in Madison. All I had was my old junker laptop that froze at random intervals and could barely support my IDE. It was painful to try and write even the simplest code on that old junker but the browser still worked so I decided to enjoy my weekend and continue to focus on the Nomadic Code School.
Making Nomadic Code School happen couldn't be done alone. I was going to need more man power and some capital so I whipped up a quick sponsors page complete with 3 tiers of sponsorship.
Since I was listening to The $100 Startup when I dreamed up Nomadic Code School I decided to take a long shot and send Chris Guillebeau an email thanking him for the inspiration.
To my surprise Chris responded right away with some positive encouragement. I was blown away that on a Saturday night he would take the time to write back. What an awesome guy.
Day 3 - Sunday:
Sunday morning I checked my email to see a handful of signups and a few more people volunteering to help.
I posted to Reddit again this time to get feedback from the startup community. The post was met with all great comments except one that read
No mean stack.
I typically respond to every comment that has been well written out and ignore or delete any short negative posts that have no thought put into them. If you cant bother to explain why your being negative then I won't waste my readers time with your negativity.
One of the comments on my earlier Reddit post had a good point:
...the admissions process would need to be strict to make this work...
I needed to start taking applications. I still had not hammered out exactly where we were going or even when but like the rest of this project I couldn't wait until everything was perfect. I just had to jump into the deep end and figure it out.
I also have the long term vision of creating a distributed community of mentors and alumni that can offer guidance and support to the students and each other as they progress professionally and in life.
Luckily it was not a tough choice of what software to use to manage the community. I am CTO of townsqua.re was designed to get to know the applicants:
- Where they wanted to go
- Where they were at career wise
- Their existing skill level
- Weather they wanted to participate as a teacher, mentor, TA or student.
I quickly sent out the application link to the email list to see what would happen.
At this point I closed my laptop and headed to the theater to see Avengers 2. The movie was... alright. "Go to sleep! go to sleep! Go to sleep!" Was probably my favorite part.
When we left the theater and checked my email I was pleasantly surprised to see 3 applications for the community among the another batch of email list signups.
People were actually applying. These were real people with real hopes and dreams of traveling the world and learning how to code with me! It was all starting to come together and it felt amazing.
Day 4 - Monday(Memorial Day):
I didn't get much done on Monday because I had reserved it for family time and actually embracing the holiday as it should be.
It is 7:20 am and I am just finishing up this post. We have a growing mailing list with signups still trickling in and a growing number of applicants from the Nomadic Code School application form. People are talking about us and some of the press has taken note of us. Life is good. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings for Nomadic Code School.
- If you are interested in joining our program
- If you are an employer looking to hire passionate talent people
- If you would like to help mentor or teach
- If you would like to contribute by sponsoring the program or if you know of any potential sponsors
Please reach out to me via emai at
email@example.com or use nomadiccodeschool.com to connect. Either way I can't wait to hear from you!