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If you want your own tech company, forget an MBA—and learn to code instead

The best way to participate in the internet and
mobile revolution is by learning to code. The
future is written in software. You can write it or
be programmed by it. As a proficient software
developer you can implement your own ideas, or
you can help other people implement theirs.

And the best part is that you can learn
coding for free. You just need sustained effort.
Here is what I recommend for aspiring software
entrepreneurs.

Year 1 | Study
Start with CodeAcademy.com ( http://www.codecademy.com ) , which is an online
interactive platform that offers free coding
classes. Take the HTML/CSS class and build
yourself a free website on neocities.com (http://neocities.com/ ) , a hosting service. Then
take the Javascript class for at least two weeks.

While you’re taking these classes explore what
programmers and entrepreneurs in the world are
up to. Visit news.ycombinator.com ( http://news.ycombinator.com/ )
and producthunt.com ( http://producthunt.com/ ) to get a sense for where
the tech industry is headed.

After two weeks on CodeAcademy, you’ll want to
select a particular “stack” or group of
technologies you can use to implement an
application. Android, JavaScript & Ruby are
good choices. Take one week to explore
different stacks. Do “Hello, world! ( http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Hello,_world!%22_program ) ” type tutorials in different
languages. At the end of a week, pick a stack
and stick to it for a minimum of three months.

Once you have a stack selected, create a
learning path for yourself, which includes online
classes and small projects you can do to pick
up different skills. This is where the real work
begins. Look at mysliderule.com ( http://mysliderule.com/ ) for inspiration. Create a GitHub ( https://github.com ) account and set a goal for
yourself to have a significant project that you
have written up on GitHub in three months.
Every three months create a new learning path
for yourself. Emphasize small open source
projects that use different technologies. While
you continue your studies explore online
freelancing websites, which can help you make
money like odesk.com ( http://odesk.com/ ) , guru.com ( http://guru.com/ )
and CodersClan.com ( https://www.codersclan.net ) .

Year 2 | CodeForIndia
Use your newly-gained technical skills for social
good. Work for NGOs and develop technology
solutions for them. Look for projects with
technical mentors or reach out to the local
technology community for mentors who can
review your work and provide feedback.

Year 3 | Join a startup
Spend at least one year working for the best
startup you can find. Surround yourself with
great people. These are the people who will form
the base of your professional network for the
rest of your career.

Year 4 | Startup
At this point you should have technical skills, an
understanding of problems that exist in the
world and how people currently deal with them,
a work ethic, and the beginnings of a
professional network. Recruit a few friends and
start playing with ideas. Look at what new
technologies enable and apply them to old
problems.

There you have it. In just four years you can be
a software professional with your own business
and a long career ahead of you.
Commit to the path. It is not fast. It is difficult. It
is going to take six months to one year before
you’re able to make any money from it. You will
frequently be frustrated. Be patient. Be humble
but persistent in asking for help online. Be
generous and help other people when you can.

Think about it like going to college but instead
of a degree you get an online business that will
pay the rent.

We welcome your comments
at ideas.india@qz.com
( mailto:ideas.india@qz.com ) .

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