Sunday, April 19, 2015

Startup founders should learn to code

I recently read an article by Steve Blank called “Why Founders should know how to code”, he tells a story about a phone call he receives, while driving home, from a startup owner named Dave. As the phone call progresses it really sounds like Dave has been making all the right moves except for one critical area. Dave's contracted developers “[took]... weeks to make even a simple change.” Upon hearing this Steve Blank is startled, in fact he writes that he almost “rear-ended” another vehicle. Just to be sure that he's actually hearing correctly he says to the founder, “Help me understand.. neither you nor your cofounder can code...?” Whoah!!!

Learning to code opens your eyes to the process

What I didn’t know about how much I didn’t know.
It isn't just about being able to write code yourself. Steve concludes the article by strongly nudging Dave, he says that “[for the sake] of his startup and the rest of career he put his startup on hold and invest his time in attending a coding bootcamp”. It seems he took the advice and as a result gained much needed appreciation for managing web development projects, recognizing good developers, and finding a technical co-founder. Steve goes further to share how Dave sent him a note which stated “Boy, what I didn’t know about how much I didn’t know. Thanks!”

We at Tutorate agree with the sentiments in the article. A startup that revolves around an app should really have app building skills. When this is not the case problems begin to compound. 

Iterations become slower and more expensive when prototyping

Prototyping an application requires the ability to be able to make timely changes to the app based on real feedback. If you can't pull that off it will make your product development process slower and generally more expensive. While every adjustment to an app must be justified against the time and development costs involved, having to deal with outsourced development costs can give you greater pause each time there's a need for a change.

Not able to judge quality or expertise

There's also the issue of not being able to determine whether your developers have delivered a quality product, if they cut corners you don't know and the next developer you hand the project to will have to spend additional time unravelling the mess. We know there are exceptions but, in general, if you have no knowledge of the coding domain space it will be much harder to manage a team of engineers and guide them towards what you want to achieve.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Learn to Code in 230 hours, Climb with Tutorate

Kingston, Jamaica get ready for Tutorate's comprehensive web development training series.
With our guidance and your hard work, we'll help you become a serious web programmer. Expect to invest as many as 230 hours in this over a 5 to 7-month period. Read on to learn how we do this.

1 - Basic Knowledge (30 hours)

We expect you to have a good understanding of the internet, the web and related concepts. Consider this to be the non-negotiable checklist of what you should know BEFORE starting our series.
At this stage we expect you to do this on your own. It helps us to validate that you can work independently and are motivated enough to do this.
Here's what we expect you to know along with links to help you learn them: 

Internet and Web Concepts (here is the link to a video playlist we put together:
Basic Python Coding Experience - ( (2 to 3 hours to complete)
Javascript Fundamentals - ( (Give yourself 2 weeks, spend an hour a day)

2 - Web Foundations Series (60 hours)

Once you are comfortable with the basic concepts we can take you to the next stage. Over a little more than two months we'll work with you to give you a strong foundation in web related technologies. These are offered as evening courses, roughly two evenings per week with supporting homework.

The modules in this series are:

Web Technologies and Programming Basics5 weeks (30 contact hours half lab/half teaching)
Learn Basic Web Technologies and the technologies that support it, including Git, Unix, Javascript and Basic Programming Concepts.

Python Basics 5 weeks (30 contact hours half lab/half teaching)

3 - Web Full Stack Series (120 hours)

By the time you enter our Web Full Stack Series you'll be confident and ready to take on 120 contact hours of web development. Over a 15-week period (2 evenings a week plus 6 Saturday Boot camps) you'll be equipped with all the experience required to take on serious web programming projects. The modules in this  series include:
Web Dev I  - Django, REST, APIs and Protocols
Web Dev II - Django and Frontend Dev
Web Dev III - Django making it production ready

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Social Media Styleguide - The ABCs of Social Media

A while back we created a social media style guide for TutorateLocal. It’s an adaptation of a style guide from The Chicago School. While we aren't the most prolific tweeters out there, we gained a lot in the process of developing a style guide.

Why a Style Guide?

We wanted to address the scenario of a team that manages a social account. The style guide gives us the tool we need to present a consistent voice, no matter who's tweeting. Below is an abridged version of what we came up with.

The ABCs

Be Accessible, on Brand and Conversational.
Accessible - you need to respond to your audience.
on Brand - you must have a good understanding of the organization you're representing.
Conversational - start original discussions, not just pictures and links from other sources.

Twitter is a conversation. When you represent a business it must be a professional conversation, stay friendly and engaging but please be professional. Here are a few more practices we encourage.

Include relevant images

Pictures tend to increase engagement and using appropriate images will help to reinforce the brand.


Use context words or phrases with links

When posting links, we also try to use "context" words or phrases which help to frame what we are saying. For example, words and phrases such as "Video, News, From our Blog" can be helpful to give followers an idea of what a related link may be about.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Full Stack Web Development Series for Kingston, Jamaica starts in May 2015

We're running a Full Stack Web Development Course starting this May, right here in Kingston, Jamaica and you'll want to know how to attend. The Tutorate May 2015 Web Development Series is designed to launch the next crop of Jamaican startup entrepreneurs and we'll be teaching Python-based web application development.

update: Based on recent feedback, we've reworked the programme to be a bit more modular, you can read more about the "Tutorate Climb" this here. We've also worked in 3 times as many contact hours for the same price.

Tutorate Web Development Series

We're partnering with the folks at to bring you comprehensive material. Expect a deep dive into Python-based web application development where you'll learn Flask, Django and more. This nine-week-long face-to-face series will be supported between classes by assignments and associated video content. Full stack means you'll also learn Javascript, including a primer on AngularJS.

Apply Now

So if you think you should be a part of this then we're encouraging you to apply now.

Part Scholarships

If you're burning to do this series but can't afford it, we are putting together some partial scholarships, so apply and indicate your interest in our part scholarships.

All face-to-face

It's really hard to beat the value of an over-the-shoulder face-to-face experience. For this reason we're focusing all our attention on making this a great experience. We're not against offering remote training, but it isn't going to be the primary delivery format for this time around.