How a Grammy-Shortlisted Producer Built a Startup with Little Coding Experience

December 2, 2015

3:00 pm

Marc Plotkin is not your usual entrepreneur. He is a songwriter, a saxophone player, and also a Grammy-shortlisted producer. Late last year, Plotkin launched Wifi Music School, an online music education platform that pairs students up with world-class instructors over Skype. Despite having been part of a number of tech startups before, Plotkin had not coded much before launching his latest startup.

Plotkin is not alone. There is a growing number of startups founded by entrepreneurs with little coding experience. Finding a tech cofounder or outsourcing a project may not work for everyone. A lot of these entrepreneurs are now turning to online mentors for help with launching their tech projects – I mean, entrepreneurs really should be spending their time on other things outside of learning how to code.

While online classrooms like Codecademy help you gain a foothold in programming, they cannot always come to your help with specific coding issues. Non-tech entrepreneurs with little coding experience are now turning to online mentor services like Codementor to help them through the tech development process.

“The biggest advantage that stood out to me was the screen sharing aspect of Codementor, where the people I had sessions with actually got to see the code I wrote”, said Plotkin. “The programs I was writing would typically run just fine but it wasn’t until a CodeMentor actually looked at my work that I realized it was far too sloppy and redundant to be buyable. This is something that would have gone unnoticed in a classroom setting, so this was extremely valuable” he says recounting his experience.

According to Weiting Liu, the founder and CEO of Codementor.io, they have been seeing a steady rise in the number of solopreneurs using their platform to reach out to mentors while building their MVP. For example, people struggle with their JavaScript code, they can find a JavaScript expert to mentor them through their development process. “Our platform was originally built for developers looking for mentors to hone up their skills in specific technologies and for businesses to extend their team with expert developers on-demand,” said Liu. “The number of entrepreneurs using our platform to launch their tech start-ups is a pleasant surprise even to us.”

Finding an expert developer to mentor you is not only a smart way to launch your startup in the absence of a cofounder, but it is also a critical component for business growth. A study of more than 700 founders recently found that nearly 33 percent of startups where a founder was mentored by an expert were top-performers in their category. In contrast, only 10 percent of companies where none of the founders had a mentor achieved similar success. Mentors are critical not just for solopreneurs, but also startups with proper founding teams. Although the study focused on business mentors as opposed to tech mentors, it can still be safely said that founders need to establish a good personal rapport with mentors and meet them on a sustained basis to ensure business growth.

For a tech startup, mentors can be absolutely important when scaling. Websites and applications that function optimally during the launch phase can often see performance issues and downtime when scaling up.

Do you have a tech mentor for your startup? How has your experience been with or without one? Share your views in the comments below.

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Margarita Hakobyan is a serial entrepreneur that is addicted to creating. Business women, wife and mother of two with bachelor's degree from the University of Utah with a concentration in International Studies and a Masters Degree also from the University of Utah with a degree in International business. CEO and founder of MoversCorp.com, an online marketplace of local moving companies and storage facilities.

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