Hi everyone,

I would like to get a feedback about a particular entrepreneurial path/article. Here it is:

Want to be an entrepreneur, but not sure which business to start? Why not become tech entrepreneur? Look at Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Uber and Airbnb. These are tech companies, some say that Tesla is a tech company. 7 out of 10 world's most valuable companies are in tech. Of course it is super hard to create businesses like above, instead look at them for inspiration. One of the great things about technology companies is their ability to scale. I think tech is cool.

Here is one way of becoming tech entrepreneur for people who do not know programming. There are many other ways, this is just one of them. You can adjust any step, when you will be one year into your journey you will be able to come up with a strategy that suits you more. The most important part is to begin and put serious time into it.

I am a developer with 8 years of experience and I have small agency on UpWork.

This will work best for highly motivated people who are willing to put in long hours and work on saturdays. It is best to cut your personal monthly expenses so that you could reinvest money into the business and grow it faster. Preferably live with roommates.

Short outline, more details below
  • Spend 900 hours learning and practicing programming.

  • Pick a niche so that you are working on similar projects. Get some experience, build portfolio

  • Start freelancing (possibly on UpWork). You’ll need some oversight, more about it below

  • Hire 2 remote junior developers from Ukraine at low cost. Ukraine has good developers :)

  • Give them some work and grow them.

  • Find 2 interns in Ukraine that you and your junior developers will teach programming. Mostly they will teach themselves, you will support them. In exchange for free education sign 1-2 year contracts with them.

  • Find a partner that is good at marketing and sales. The partner should be finding good clients. He should be doing activities that will help you raise prices

  • Hire remote developer with 4-5 years of experience, he should take over part of your responsibilities including junior developer oversight and communication with clients.

  • Slowly keep finding interns for teaching or junior developers in Ukraine. Interns for teaching will have lower cost. If you’ll be focusing on interns you should have training system in place by this time. Also hire mid/senior developers as needed to support juniors.

  • While working in your niche you’ll notice problems that are not solved yet. Create small tools and apps to solve those problems. Create apps and plugins for platforms in your niche. Or you could build apps for Shopify, Wix and Wordpress or other platforms. Or try to notice the next big platform like Shopify and build apps for it early so that you are first.

  • Your partner should market and sell your apps.

  • See if there is a good opportunity to create Software as a Service product in your niche. SaaS is when customers pay monthly subscription for your product.

  • Or create SasS product not in your niche, but in something you or your partner know very well

  • At this point you’ll have a tech machine in a tech age and you can do whatever you want with it and point it at any business opportunities that you see. The business should be making good money from your apps and SaaS products.
Learn programming
You’ll need 900 hours of practicing programming to become a junior developer, watching video courses does not count. At the start it will be difficult and you might start thinking that programming is too difficult for you, but you must persevere, it gets easier after some time.

Create new trial account on codeacademy. While in trial you’ll have access to premium parts of courses. Do the Javascript course, you only have 7 days, so try to spend 8 hours a day on it and finish it before trial runs out.

After this do the free HTML and CSS courses there.

Then switch to freecodecamp(FCC). Use their “Read, Search, Ask” approach. If some task gives you a problem after a bit of googling and troubleshooting you can look at hints and solutions on FCC, but if you look at the solution then you must do this task again a week later without looking at the solution.

On FCC you’ll learn Web Development (Javascript, React, Nodejs)

After FCC google for more tutorials and resources. Come up with a project for yourself (Shopify or Facebook clone for example). Additionally learn MySql. Join Gitter or Slack or Discord programming learning communities to ask questions. Also you can ask your questions on reddit learnprogramming community and stackoverflow.

Save the materials with which you learn, you will use them later for interns.

Picking a niche
The logic is pretty simple: buyers have more options than ever before. Therefore, if your agency isn’t differentiated, clients will always be able to find another agency that is willing to offer the same services for a cheaper price. With the internet, they can instantly find hundreds of firms to replace you. So, to avoid commoditization, some agencies have created their own unique value proposition.

Why does it work? When agencies do this, they can focus all their time and energy developing unique capabilities, process and knowledge that beats back the competition.

“There are a few niche agencies I’ve been advising for about 10 years now. Every time, I talk to them, I ask them their current margins. It’s always 10 percentage points higher than the generalist agencies I know.” says Peter Caputa, Databox CEO and founder of HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program.

Do a good research about picking a niche.

Get some experience
Join an agency in your niche for 6-18 months. Make sure that they are fine with you putting projects that you worked on into your portfolio.

If you can’t do it, lower your salary expectations and join UpWork agency in your niche. If you can't do that try to find a dev job in any company.

Do programming 9-10 hours a day 6 days a week. You need to get as much technical experience as possible.

3 months before you’ll quit the agency find junior developers and start growing them. Or 5 months before find interns and help them learn.

You can skip step with joining an agency, and go immediately to freelancing, but in this case you would need someone with 3-5 years of experience to do oversight for you, because at this point you are too inexperienced and will do damage to the projects of clients. It could be part time hire or some freelancer.

If you spend less time in an agency you’ll also need someone for oversight.

Watch Clean Code video course (first 25 episodes) from Bob Martin and re watch it a year later. Learn about website security and website and database performance so that you are not producing bad, insecure and laggy solutions.

Start freelancing
Since you are not experienced and you’ll be using someone for oversight you will not be making a lot of money at this point. You should focus on providing a good service to your clients and growing your juniors and interns.

You should have your learning materials from your earlier education days. Slowly mold those learning materials into training system. Nothing fancy, don’t write software for it, just organize it for future use and extend it over time. So that you need to spend less time on educating people.

Hiring first developers
There are developers with good prices in other countries, but I haven’t worked with them. I know that this works with Ukrainian developers, I live here. On UpWork hire part-time personal assistant from Ukraine, he should help you with local things. If you want even cheaper assistant try creating a vacancy on Assistant should help you with creating dev vacancies on and help with interview process. Maybe he should do the pre screenings. Also use google forms to get relevant information from candidates, put the google form link into vacancy. It is fine to have a vacancy in english.

Level of English of a candidate is very important. If you can’t find good junior developers with good English consider looking for interns with good English.

You could do 6 month internship and then switch them to paid junior developer position. In exchange for your free education you could sing 1-2 year contracts with them.

Developer salaries are much higher than other salaries in Ukraine, this is way a lot of people really want to become programmers.

Junior developer salaries start pretty low and then grow at middle and senior levels.

You could find a junior for $250-$400 a month depending on the city. Kiev is the most competitive city, but there a lot of developers here.

Your intern in 3 months should be able to reach level that is typically higher than most junior developer candidates that you’ll see.

Due to lower English level and inexperience of your devs, communication with the clients should go through you. Before your devs reach a certain level give them tasks from your projects and do a strict code reviews for them. Make sure that your clients know that you are doing this.

Use Discord or Skype for voice communication. Skype or TeamViewer or TightVNC for screen sharing. Discord with TightVNC are really good together and they are free. You could easily switch between helping multiple people. Not sure if TightVNC is secure.

What do you guys think about this approach? What parts do you think are most difficult? What things are unrealistic?

Do you know good ways of finding marketing/sales partner?


Hi Nori,

Thank you for the post.
You have some great tactical suggestions...
However, I don't agree with the execution model.

There is no question that as an entrepreneur we have to work and learn alot; but, I don't agree with 900 hours of learning just to become technical and start freelancing. After the ball starts rolling, the owner is moving into a project management role; so, why not just start at that position. Great project managers don't need to be technical to manage projects.

But, this leads to the next issue...
If the goal is to get into the software development industry then this is a good strategy...
But, we need to think about business first, which means we need to have some financial ideas...
Without identifying a specific nitch early-on, then we can't determine supply/demand to formulate potential sales.
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