Contributed by Stephen Foster, CEO of ThoughtSTEM.
You will be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy or engage with video games in this modern age. From mobile apps, Facebook games, to everyday gamification, we are always at play. Developer turned founder, Stephen Foster, found his success in the gaming world by creating a way to help others learn to code. ThoughtSTEM was created to help people, particularly those under the age of 18, learn to write and develop their own code.
A challenge many founders experience is finding a unique sell, and Foster does just that with ThoughtSTEM. “We want to teach as many people as possible how to code, and the secret sauce is video games.” With over a million programs written through their software, Foster used his passion to build a successful business. While there were ups and downs in his coding lifetime, his passion of teaching and learning computer science drove the creation of video game-based learning. “We just kind of lucked into it because we were bored in our lectures.” After deciding not to go to college and falling into a get-rich-quick scheme, the positive takeaway was a drive to become his own boss. Although he did return to complete his education, and Foster now holds a Ph.D.
While many developers-turned-founders cite that it can be a struggle to have a technical background in a founder role, Foster sees it as an asset. “I’ve seen other founders who didn’t have a technical background. They struggled to manage and communicate with their developers.” The ability to speak the language to your developers is essential for a tech company. While other founders have mentioned marketing and sales as areas they may struggle with, technical communication is still key.
No matter what stage you are in your career, Foster gives this advice. “You should never lose sight of the fact that learning to code is a lifelong journey. There is always more to learn about computer science.” As you grow closer to becoming a full-fledged founder, you may get pulled in many different directions, but don’t forget to tend to your craft. Being a lifelong learner can only help you while you and your business grow.
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