From Zero to Technical Founder of #1 Product Hunt Startup


#1

Hi there!

I wanted to share my story of the last one and a half year here. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can.

One and a half year ago when I would read a piece of code (in any language) it was alien to me. Last Friday, the startup that I build from scratch myself finished at #1 in Product Hunt.

I started programming roughly 1 and a half years ago. I was finishing my Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Science with a major in Business & Management, had fallen in love with entrepreneurship, and wanted to be able to put my ideas into testable concepts. I had, what I thought, were so many fantastic ideas but I could not get them further than a concept without having to pay somebody to build a website for me. I wanted to be able to it myself.

I started with HTML/CSS in Codecademy and expanded it later with Javascript and Jquery (all on an old Codecademy account). This was enough to help me spin up many websites to present ideas, and gradually, I became better and better at it. With Codecademy, Stackoverflow, and W3schools on my side, it felt like there was nothing that I could not built (even though it would always take longer than estimated).

In the beginning of 2017, I started a new project that would be the first web startup I would develop from scratch. It was an aggregator for furnished rentals in my country. I tried to bring more transparency to the market, though after 4-5 months, it just would not get off the ground. There had been some fundamental assumptions I had made in the beginning that I had neglected to validate, even though I promised myself to build lean (yeah right…). Also, given that I only knew HTML, CSS, and Javascript/jQuery, I was forced to manually add rental entries and changing a small detail in for example the header would mean having to make the same change for over 60 pages. Soul crushing. After I stopped with the startup and decided to focus on finishing my Master, I took a few weeks of my holiday to learn PHP and SQL. Even the basics of these languages could have saved me hundreds of hours in the previous startup, and they would turn out to be the core of my next startup.

When on holiday with my then-girlfriend in Spain, the same holiday where I learned PHP/SQL, I started working on this new idea called Courseroot. It would be a platform that aggregates all online courses on the web and put them in a single place so that visitors could dynamically filter through them based on the characteristics like level of difficulty, certificate quality, price, hours of content, and more. I myself had always been an avid online learner, and I wanted to make something I would use myself. After 6 months of hard work, while finishing my Master at the University of Tilburg, I launched Courseroot on Product Hunt last Friday, and it went straight to the top. Even better, tons of people reached out to me, letting me know that they were excited about the platform and sharing words of encouragement. The company is in its early stages at the moment and has a long way to go, but its a great step in the right direction.

Codecademy played an incredible part in this. I never thought I would learn how to program. And here I am, actually considering myself a technical founder. The way Codecademy takes you through the languages, gradually advancing the content, and bit by bit teaching you the core syntax, is incredible. This, combined with the amazing people from live chat support, has made learning how to program much easier than I could have ever imagined.

Thank you.

If you want to check out Courseroot, you can do so here: https://courseroot.com/

Best wishes,

Valentijn

p.s. In the upcoming months I will start integrating Codecademy, along with a few other field-specific platforms, into Courseroot, and, hopefully, this way I can complete the circle and bring new, eager students to Codecademy that will go on to build their own projects.


#2

Hi @thumpertje,

Thank you for sharing such inspiring story, what a great motivation it served. On that note, congratulations for being the #1 Product of the Day! :confetti_ball: :tada: Great Job on the site! (Already checked that out)

Anticipating more updates from your side in future and here, I wish you the very best! Keep it up! :metal: :sunglasses:


#3

Hey Valentijn,

Congrats on your project! Courseroot looks very polished, I’m impressed. We’re so happy that we were able to play a part in your journey to learn to code. :slight_smile:


#4

Thanks @codexthon !

Happy to hear you found it inspiring. Long way to go still but a great start.

Best wishes,

Valentijn


#5

Hi @oduffy,

Thank you. That means a lot.

Codecademy has been amazing. You guys are helping out so many people. I was talking to a father the other day about what I do and how I learned how to program. He told me his 14-year-old son was using Codecademy to do the same. Fantastic stuff.

Keep up the amazing work and all the best,

Valentijn