The brothers left their jobs at Microsoft and Facebook to launch Educative, a 3-year-old marketplace for interactive software development courses.
The original idea behind Educative was to publish interactive e-books for coding courses, but the founders couldn’t find the right tools to create interactive content.
“That’s why we founded Educative — to provide a frictionless learning experience for programmers with a dynamic curriculum that adapts to each student’s skill level,” said Fahim ul Haq, the company’s CEO. “Each course contains quizzes and coding challenges and the course will speed up or slow down to match the ability of the learner.”
We caught up with Fahim ul Haq for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Educative has engaging courses for software developers that adapt the content based on the student’s skill level.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We set out to create interactive ebooks for programmers, but existing platforms didn’t provide any support for that. That gave us the idea of creating a platform that enables a learning experience by promoting ‘learn by doing’ instead of passively watching video monologues or reading long pages of text.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We have has some angel investment, and will soon be looking for VC funding. We have a product that our customers love, and now we want to scale Educative to support even more developers.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Lowering the hurdles for developers to learn new technologies. Our platform has pre-configured interactive environments, which means students can start right away, without having the need to set up anything on their machines. The courses themselves weave in quizzes and coding challenges that adapt the course content to the programmer’s skill level, and the test code can even be deployed so you can see what you’ve built. This is a far cry from the all too common one-size-fits-all video monologues.
And these great features for students doesn’t mean extra work for our instructors. Our course builder makes it easy for instructors to create and publish courses on our platform.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Building a network of advisors and mentors who have helped us define the direction of the company. Being developers, we had a lot to learn about business and strategy.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Waiting to expand our team. We were a mighty team of two co-founders for a long time, and we’re now realizing that growing our team earlier would have helped us deliver more value to our customers sooner.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos. He has shown how focusing on the customer helps companies deliver awesome products.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Our team is new so we’re still figuring it out! We’re open to suggestions.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion towards the product and an eagerness to learn new things.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Talk to your customers. You can build a lot of things that you think are useful, but to create true value, you need to find who your customers are and what they care about.”
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the ten startups in Techstars Seattle leading up to their Demo Day on April 18. Techstars is a worldwide network that offers 40 mentorship-driven accelerator programs around the globe.