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Interview: Treehouse Founders Offer Affordable Technology Education for All

Learn how Treehouse aims to change the world through technology and why when it comes to entrepreneurship, you have to do it your own way.

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Best Success Story:

What it really comes down to is that our students are our best successes. If you go to our site, we have success stories from our students. [For example], there’s a guy named Jordan that came to Treehouse to learn iPhone development and wrote an app. It sells on the App Store now and he makes enough money to pay his mortgage.

There’s also a story from another guy who worked on a factory line but decided he wanted to change his career because of some kind of pain he was feeling and had thoughts like, “I have to find a new job.” He came across Treehouse, learned how to program and now he works for an IT and freelance programing company instead of on a factory line.

We hear story after story like [the examples above]. At our core that’s what we are about; changing lives and giving people these opportunities that Ryan and I (and a lot of other people in our company) have had thanks to working in technology.

Biggest Startup Challenge:

I would say one of the bigger [challenges] was finding that product-market fit; making sure that we have a great product that teaches people what they need to learn and that we can find those people who need to learn [technology] and then bring the product to them at a price that works for everybody.

I think it’s a pretty classic problem, but it was one of the biggest challenges we had. Just making sure that we have a great product that people love; that’s what we spend the most time on.

We’ve definitely learned a lot and our company has grown really quickly. In November 2011 when we launched we had 12 employees, and we now have 51 employees.  It’s been pretty fast growth and learning to manage a company of 50 is very different than managing a company of 12.

We learned a lot in the process. We just kind of kept iterating, and kept our eye on the ball as being able to grow the company, and being able to serve our students as well as possible. We adjust pretty frequently to what’s going on in the company just to make sure that any time a problem arises we take a step back and look at it and then iterate on how we run the business to make sure that we are meeting the needs of everyone that works for the company.

#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs:

Do it your way. It’s actually one of our core values at Treehouse. We work a 4-day work week instead of a 5-day work week because Ryan and I both have kids and families and we want to make sure that they get the time and attention they need as well.

There’s so much advice that flies around that’s not always good for everyone. So we really try to emphasize that it’s great advice, but let’s just step back, think about it and see what we could do if we could do whatever we wanted.

A lot of people who end up starting businesses end being completely controlled by the business instead of vice versa, so we really try to take an approach to make something that works for us and everybody in the company. What’s the use of doing this thing if we don’t have any control over it?

Stay connected with Treehouse on Twitter.

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Photo Credit: Alan Johnson, featured right.

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