991
12 min 2 sec

Data Scientist Turns Teaching Frustrations Into Recurring Income

An analytics manager and adjunct college teacher creates a time-saving platform to help non-technical students learn coding.
Developer Hustle Niche Ideas Passive Income

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What It's About

His students spent way too much time on setup, so this analytics manager and college teacher found a better way.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Coding & Teaching
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

I had trouble getting the first real sale (i.e., not one of my students) in the beginning. I was seeing visits to my website but not conversion to purchase. Once I offered a "freemium" plan which allowed users to test out the platform for free, I was getting sign-ups.

Fun Fact

Nathan takes real interview questions from real customers, rewrites them, and then publishes them as learning modules so that his users get to improve their skills with real challenges they’ll encounter in the workforce.

Notes from Chris

Episode 991
Twice a week, when Nathan Rosidi wraps up work as a strategy and analytics manager at a biotech company, he heads over the University of San Francisco, where he’s an adjunct teacher. His classes are about technical coding—usually Python and SQL languages—but most of his students are not so technical. And this was a problem.

The first thing a student has to do to learn coding is actually set up the software on the computer—and it’s not always easy. Many intelligent students spend days getting everything in order, which starts them off in a negative headspace and puts the class behind schedule.

Nathan knew there had to be an easier way to teach coding without going through this mess every semester. He wanted to be a teacher, not an IT helpdesk person: less time on setup, more time on teaching. One day, while immersed in technical support for his students, he remembered an idea he’d had years before.

When he was just beginning his career in analytics, he wanted to find ways to improve his coding skills to make him more prepared for job interviews. He looked all over for a web-based platform where he could practice Python on SQL exercises, but there wasn’t anything that was easy to use. There were coding courses, but they all started from square one and required installing complex software—definitely not the fast, easy approach to building skills that Nathan wanted.

In December of 2017, Nathan pieced together the back-end of the platform, which he named StrataScratch.” He found a developer on Upwork and paid him $1,000 to create the front-end interface. Adding the two parts together, he had a basic, working product.

In January of 2018—just a month after he began working on StrataScratch—he offered the platform to his new students for free. They liked it right away. It was so much easier to get students learning actual coding, rather than wasting time just getting their computers set up.

Nathan had to find a different approach, but first he had to identify the problem. He knew his questions and exercises were well-made. He knew they could help students and young professionals improve their skills and prepare for jobs. He just had to find a way to convince them to pay for it. To do that, he had to overcome the objection of whether it was really going to be helpful or not—and to solve that problem, they needed to be able to try StrataScratch for free.

With this logical process in mind, he set up a “freemium” version—a full-featured version of the platform that contained a few of the first modules. This would give interested students and young professionals a taste of what the full version provided. And it worked.

Nathan is still in build-mode, trying to make StrataScratch as useful as it can possibly be for his current users. He’s investing much of his earnings to pay writers to create new modules, and developers to upgrade the servers and improve the platform.

But with over 500 lessons now in the bank, he’s getting ready to switch to scale-mode. That means making more marketing content, and testing the waters of Google Ads. If all goes well, it won’t be long before StrataScratch is a well-known name in the Python and SQL learning space—and to think, a resource like this didn’t exist until he decided to build it.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • StrataScratch: Check out Nathan's platform that be built from the ground up at the Strata Scratch website.
  SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

cg-sig-newsletter


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Quote of the Day
"If I were to start over again, I’d build out the community first!"
—Nathan Rosidi #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau