Hi, I’m Masa, founder & CEO of a startup called Progate.
Progate is Japan’s largest online education platform to learn programming and has over
800,000 individual learners worldwide.
In this article, I’d like to share my experience of learning to code from a complete beginner and starting a company from it.
How it all started
It was not until 2013, a year before I founded Progate, that I started learning to code. It was around the time when many people in Japan started using smartphones, and more and more people were beginning to develop apps for iOS and Android phones. I was very fascinated
by the fact that even people of my age were developing apps that were being used by a lot of people. While I was pursuing Computer Science at University, I wasn’t able to learn the things that I had expected. I wanted to learn practical things – like how to develop web services and apps, but the classes provided were highly theoretical and academic, an education system that is similar to India. I decided to teach myself how to code! From there, I referred to books, online tutorials but struggled with the application of all that information. They were just dots, and I needed a path to connect them.
Our first job
Around that time, I was able to meet some friends who were also struggling to learn to code, and we decided to learn together. We built a community of people learning to code and started meeting many people who might be able to help us. One of them was the CEO of a startup in Japan, and he was willing to offer us some money to build a web service for his company. Although we were still beginners at the time, we decided to take this job to force ourselves to learn. We had two months to release the web service, so we needed to find someone immediately to connect the dots for us. This took many appointments with many people but we were finally introduced to a tech lead of a well-known company who was able to provide us with mentorship on getting started. From there, we worked extremely hard for about a month and were finally able to create and submit the app. After learning to code, I gained the confidence to take risks, live my own life, and have fun at the same time. I stopped going to college and started teaching people around me how to code. I wanted to give everyone the same opportunity that I was lucky enough to experience. I guided them through where to start and which path to follow, just like my mentor did for me, and it was beginning to change their lives too.
My Vision and Mission at Progate
Soon after this experience, we founded Progate. If there is anything I’ve learned through my experience as an aspiring engineer, it is that programming can be very challenging without any instructions. But, if someone can lead the way and show you the path, this experience will be much easier and very exciting.
That is exactly what I want to do at Progate.
We want to be the gate to the exciting world of programming, and lead the way to become an independent coder by providing the most efficient path.
While there are umpteen resources to learn programming, there are people still struggling, and I believe that there is a lot that we can do based on our experience of struggling our way through from a complete beginner to an independent coder.
Since day one, it’s always been about:
Empowering everyone to open new doors through programming.
We’ll continue to focus on the product and deliver great content to make this vision come true.