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Budding Technology Entrepreneurs

I recently gave a talk on “Equipping Your Budding Technology Entrepreneur” at North Carolina Home Educators. Here are some notes that both go along with that talk, and others might find useful that didn’t attend it.

We are made in the image of our Creator. That means we are created to create. We create to serve. We live at a time where more technology is available from our homes than any other time in history. Use it to be a producer, not just a consumer.

The best way to learn is to build something. A well-rounded education is not humanities & science, but theory & practice. Practice doesn’t fit nicely into < 1 hour slots.

  • Pick a night/week to work with your children on creative projects, learn the theory during “school time”
  • Pick a day, a week, or a month (or three) that only uses books as reference material… build something
  • Pick things that someone might want to buy… instead of getting an A, the goal is to “make a sale”

There is nothing stopping you from writing software at any age. If the parents don’t know something about it, find someone who does. Then, find a meet up and start attending as regularly as you can. You will find comrades and mentors… stick with it, and ask for help “reviewing” your project, or “pointers” to first/next steps. Follow through, and then come back for more.

Think about a web site and application for something that you would like around the house, or some business might want built.

If you want to build an app, there is the “game” route.

  • There are a lot of Card Games that are mostly in the public domain… i.e. you won’t be breaking anyone’s copyright by automating most of these games
  • Start with a utility app like “Weight tracking”, “Height tracking”, “Assignment tracking” anything you might make a checklist for or want to record. Make it so your family or friends like it… if they won’t, you probably won’t be able to sell it to others.

Lean Startup is a buzzword in the industry generating a lot of excitement – probably more than it deserves – but there are solid ideas about validating ideas with customers. For young people who don’t have to provide for a family yet, the risk is very low to invest in a start up where you are the CEO and technologist. If the idea bombs, and you figure out that it won’t work after a 3rd or 4th “pivot”, take what you have learned and get better at the next idea. The skills you learn in marketing, customer relationships, etc. will be huge in addition to what you have learned technologically.

Another great book to read is Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. No business – hi-tech or not – works without a business model.

Other “maker” tools:

  • 3D printers… make replacement parts for things that you like and are broken.
  • instructables.com is a great resource for 3D printing and many other building ideas.

Under 12

Here are just a few things you can consider doing for those under 12:

Depending on how mature your young person is, there are some programs for those wanting to get started who are under 16 (some of these work for those as young as 10 or 12):

Under 16

Industry feet-wetting resources for design & basic coding skills:

The Pragmatic Programmer’s Bookshelf is one of the best sources to learn just about anything from practical/experienced experts. Their books are available in both softcopy and hardcopy, and are some of the most well-respected books in our industry. Several of these are particularly appropriate for beginners who have done little to no programming ranging from game programming to basic introductions and messing with hardware:

A great list of project-based learning resources and more are here:

Under 18

  • Dual enroll in local technical and community colleges
  • College Plus – of particular interest is their Applied Science and Technology degree

Alternatives or Alongsides to College

  • Programming Bootcamps and craftsmanship academies like ours
  • Offer yourself as an apprentice to someone
  • If you go to college, look for internships… many colleges have a variety of programs.

The above is not exhaustive by any means, just something to stimulate you to not wait for college to figure out whether a technology career is right for you, and to stop thinking about being a consumer, rejecting the Myth of Adolescence and becoming a producer as your Creator designed you to be.