Do you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg?

Paul Smith, Founder and CTO of Schoop, gives his top resources for budding tech entrepreneurs

Paul Smith is Founder and CTO of Schoop, an app that keeps schools, parents and school children connected. They are a selected ‘Digital Dozen’ representative of leading Tech event, Digital 2015, an event that will bring together young people, educators and businesses to uncover the real challenges and opportunities for tomorrow’s innovators.

If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, stand in line. There are lots of people in front of you. So, how do you jump the queue? First you need to learn some of the basics. They can be learnt the hard way, or the easy way. The easiest way to learn is to learn from a good example. If you find a great example that works, you’ll learn much faster than starting from scratch. Luckily the internet is strewn with great tools and knowledge banks from seasoned professionals that can get you started.

Here are my top resources for budding tech entrepreneurs that will give you a head start, and hopefully some useful mileage on your road to success.

The best way to learn is to learn by doing. This is what Code School is all about. Lots of their entry level lessons are free, and the entry level is probably where most of you are. Code School covers all of the technology employers are looking for in web or app development, so get stuck in with lesson one in any subject that takes your fancy

This is for people that want to develop for the Microsoft platforms such as Windows and Windows Phone. There’s plenty of call for Microsoft developers, and that’s unlikely to change. There are lots of online lessons, and the software for developing is now free in the community edition of Visual Studio.

The new GCSE as of 2016 will include Codio as a resource. It’s a new cloud based project development platform for loads of different programming languages. It allows you to create projects from any web browser and run them in real time. It’s very cool, but you’ll need some idea of where to start, so start with Code School.

If you want to build apps for mobile devices such as iPhones or Android, then you could try Ionic Framework. You’ll need to jump through a few hoops to get your PC or Mac ready to build your app, but the documentation in Ionic is very simple to follow.

If you want to build your first website, WordPress is a great starter. It is well supported and has a wealth of support for themes and lots of free plugins. Make sure you check it regularly to ensure your themes and plugins are up to date to ward off nasty bots, though. WordPress is very easy to use, once you get to grips with it, and there is a comprehensive help feature.

Quick-fire JavaScript web apps are easy with Meteor. JavaScript is one of the nuts and bolts of web and app development. Yeah, you need to brush up on your basic skills – go to Code School first to learn the basics – then you’re rocking and a rolling!

  • Website development. Worldwide Web Consortium

If you ever search for a HTML (the language of the internet) related question, W3C is likely to feature at the top of your search results, and for good reason. Every aspect of HTML and the frameworks that make up every web page you visit are documented here.

Even the best developers get stuck. Stack Overflow is a trusted resource that lets programmers share problems and get constructive answers. It’s a good, safe community, but don’t be surprised to get the odd silly comment or arrogant answer. Codio has links to most of the tools and SDKs (Software Development Kits) you need for your journey into technology, but here are a few other free software packages I would recommend to get you started.

This is a pure text editor, and text editors are at the core of every experienced programmer’s daily duties. There are other popular examples such as, but they’re not 100% free. Notepad++ is free. It will highlight the code based on the language, such as html, JavaScript, so you can see the parts of the code that are programmatically important, and those that are just text, such as “Hello World”.

Visual Studio is the basis for all Microsoft platform development including for Windows and Windows Phone. The community edition of their development software is free. The database platform of choice is Microsoft SQL Server, and an Express edition is also free. Learning resources for both can be found in my previous recommendation

  • Mobile app development

iOS (iPhones and iPads)

Finally. I’ve been a software developer since 1997, so I’ve been programming before a lot of the people reading this were born. My one piece of advice to those serious about becoming tech entrepreneurs is, never give up!

Developing software or technical solutions is one of the most rewarding careers on the planet. If you like problem solving, and you want to see your technological idea, game, or web application see the light of day, nothing will stop you. Every code change you make that works is a triumph. Every milestone you reach makes you proud. Every day you do something new. That’s what technology entrepreneur do. They innovate, which means most of the stuff they’ve perfected is out of date, and they need to keep learning new things.

It’s exciting, and I am looking forward to the future. Are you? 


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