Today I am starting something new. I am starting a new position at the University of Iowa, JPEC Founder's Club - an incubator for student startups where they receive guidance on launching a business while still in school. I am starting up a software team that builds software for the student startups within the Founder's Club. I am very excited to create an educational program to create change within the start up community.
The Founder's Club consists of 70+ different teams of students with all different backgrounds, and phases in their business there are student businesses for everything from biomedical inventions, to food, to comedy shows, to mobile apps. Not all of the teams need software assistance, but there are many problems faced by teams that creates the need for this program:
- Founders in different industries observe problems software can fix but they don't understand software well enough to know where to start the business.
- Founders don't have experience finding or working with contract software developers to build their prototypes and products.
How do I plan to help the student startups? By involving even more students of course! What's great about this program is we will be solving problems the student startups face but also solving problems faced by software development students:
- Students in school are book smart but they need mentoring and experience to build real world software.
- Software students might be interested in working for a startup after graduation. They need a low risk environment to see what it's really like.
- More and more jobs are turning into indie, remote, and freelance jobs. Students should be able to test this kind of work in school to see if it's right for them or not.
There is one last big problem to note. This problem is shared by the software developers and the student founders. Inexperienced startups believe that this is how startups are formed:
Wake up with an idea -> Immediately search for a dozen developers and pay them nothing -> Have them work all nighters to build a huge complex piece of software -> Release software to the public -> rich.
Similarly developers see the start up world as work you don't get paid for where you eat ramen until 3am every day working, and you play ping-pong. I personally know many developers who think this and say, "No way startups are not for me". Sure this was how Facebook started but it's risky and in my opinion it harms the startup community by excluding others who don't want to work this way. This software team will work to create change by educating founders of different ways to start a business, 9-5, and with less risk.
I plan to hire 2-3 students for hourly pay to work part time during the school year. These students will write most to all of the code requested by the student startup teams while being mentored, by me, for guidance and to level up there development skills. This seems normal so far but this is where it gets interesting:
- The software team will be fully remote. I want students to have experience working remotely. Plus, I believe in remote work.
- Students are not required to know how to build apps coming into this program. I plan to teach you how to build web and mobile apps. You just come in with the urge to learn and know at least one programming language language.
- No meetings, no Slack, except the check-ins with myself for help and guidance. I want the students to spend their time writing code and learning.
- There will be a unique style of project management used. No agile or scrum. Instead, I will help guide the ships and split apart tasks to 1 or 2 students to work on in parallel.
- Learn! A job where the number one priority is to learn. Learn by failure and guidance. Improve by mentorship, practice, and teaching others.
For me, I will continue to freelance (I am open for hire right now!) and create my own content and apps. Nothing will be changing except behind-the-scenes I will shift from project to project depending on what is going on at the time. Being a brand-new program, we are not sure what resources it will require. I believe this program will become an outstanding asset for colleges. I'm excited to try something new, live and learn, and share my experience with others.
Talk to you again soon,
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