As we get closer to the New Year, the ritual of making resolutions begins and we all flock to the usual patterns: we want to eat healthier, work out more, get promoted, or spend more time with our kids and family. These are with no doubt worthwhile goals, but I’d like to pose an important challenge for founders: Make learning and development your key resolution in 2013. If you’re a startup, you are by definition competing with the smartest people in the world – either large companies with more resources than yours or fellow entrepreneurs who are hoping to disrupt large companies. Your knowledge can make the difference between failure and success. Learning a new skill can also increase the chance of serendipity, the “magic” moment when seemingly unrelated concepts form an orignal thought in your head.
Considering picking up new skills? VC Cafe gathered a comprehensive list of resources for startup learning. Let’s get started!
1) Udacity offers a range of free online courses from top University professors. A few of the top courses include:
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (CS271) - includes machine learning, probabilistic reasoning, robotics, and natural language processing.
- How to Build a Startup (EP245) – by Steve Blank – You’ll learn the key steps of the Customer Development process: how to identify and engage the first customers for your product, and how to gather, evaluate and use their feedback to make your product, marketing and business model far stronger.
- Also worth subscribing to is Venture Lab – a series of startup courses online from Stanford University, for free.
2) Startup courses from Udemy, a crowdsourced platform for learning:
- Learn how to raise money for your startup the most popular course on Udemy, gathering advice from 7 founder CEOs including Naval (founder of AngelList), Dave McLure (founder of 500 startups) and others. Learn how to raise capital from angel investors & venture capitalists (and how to decide who you should target)
- Social media marketing for startups – How to use social to launch, position your messaging and get distribution.
- Startup Hiring: How to Attract, Hire and Retain the Best People
- How to Bootstrap your Startup:Everything You Need to Start Your Business – how to take an idea on paper and bring it to life
3) Coursera also offers free online courses given by professors in top universities:
- Programming Languages - by Dan Grossman of University of Washington. Investigate the basic concepts behind programming languages, with a strong emphasis on the techniques and benefits of functional programming.
- Cryptography II – Dan Boneh, Stanford University Professor. Learn about the inner workings of cryptographic primitives and protocols and how to apply this knowledge in real-world applications.
4) Technical courses from Udemy:
- Learn how to make iPhone and iPad apps in 1 hour without any programming.
- Learn Ruby on Rails, an incredibly powerful and highly scalable object-oriented language, with this ten step tutorial
- Learn to Develop an iPhone or iPad App in 4 Weeks. A step-by-step guide for aspiring developers with no coding or Objective-C experience
- Become a Web Developer from Scratch! Learn all the programming languages needed to become a Web Developer from scratch including the new HTML5 and CSS3!
- Advanced Google Analytics – learn all about RegEx, advanced segmentation, intelligence alerts, custom reporting, event tracking, virtual page views, Ecommerce tracking, and custom variables with practical exercises
4) Strategy Mapping Selling: B2B Sales and Marketing – advanced selling and marketing strategies for major and key account sales
5) Harvard and MIT created edX, an online learning platform with great content. EdX currently offers HarvardX, MITx and BerkeleyX classes online for free.
6) Skillshare lets you learn skills from other people. Really interactive way of learning:
- How to turn ideas into infographics -
- Schools for brands – a really cool idea enabling brands to offer courses. For example, check out this GE Skillshare school.
7) Pick up your programming skills from CodeAcademy. Interactive way to learn how to code :
8) YouTube has its own dedicated channel to Educational content at YouTube EDU – contains a broad set of educational videos that range from academic lectures to inspirational speeches and everything in between.
9) Lore (Learn + More) formerly known as CourseKit, has some great courses on deck. It’s also beautifully designed:
- Narrative and Comms design - by Portland State University
- 3D modeling, rendering and animation – by Penn University
10) Khan Academy has a huge range of free educational videos. A few selections:
- Hedge Funds, Venture Capital, and Private Equity - Similarities in compensation structure for hedge funds, venture capital firms, and private equity investors
- Raising money for a startup from an angel investor – learn what’s a Pre-money and post-money valuation.
- Here’s a video on Series A funding from a VC to get you inspired to start:
It is essential that you take steps like these in order to be prepared for the challenges and competition ahead. And there’s no better time to get started than the coming year. As Steve Jobs said, “Stay hungry, Stay foolish”!