3 Reasons Why the Tech and Startup Scenes are Amazing

A lot of entrepreneurs and developers are really passionate. Entrepreneurs usually can’t go a conversation without talking about their start up idea. Software developers can usually talk your ear off about some technology they are using and you have no idea what they are talking about (i.e. “WTF is JavaScript?!”). Why is that? Why are these people so excited about what they do? I believe these people truly love what they do and they love being in the tech and startup scene. It makes sense to me; it is amazing.

During my senior year of college, I had a random idea about creating a web platform for students to interact with other students in the same classes. This startup idea introduced me to the concept of entrepreneurship. I began talking to more professors and going to a variety of events around entrepreneurship. Ever since, I have been chasing entrepreneurship. The chase led me to learning web/software development and getting involved in technology. I now run MakerSquare, a 22 person company in Austin and San Francisco that trains adults to be full-time software developers through in-person training. This journey from college to MakerSquare has allowed me to recognize that the technology and startup culture is very unique. I consistently attempt to persuade some of my close friends (Zahid LodhiaNikki Desai, Priti Patel, and Parag Dadhaniya) who work in Corporate America to give this culture a shot. I believe it’s like nothing else. Below I have listed all the reasons why I think this culture or scene is amazing.

1. People are very helpful. In 2012, I paid $8,000 to take a program in Chicago to learn how to build web applications. The program provided me with a mentor. This mentor was a senior developer who volunteered his time every week to help me with my code. I paid $8,000 a semester to attend the University of Illinois as an accounting and finance major. No professor in accounting or finance was openly volunteering 1 hour a week to give me 1 on 1 attention. After I graduated from the coding program and eventually started working full-time as a developer, my mentor continued to volunteer his time to help me. I had a brief stint at Ernst & Young and I can’t imagine trying to find someone from another accounting firm (i.e. a senior accountant from Deloitte) to help me become a better accountant for an hour a week. Developers and entrepreneurs legitimately want to help other prospective developers and entrepreneurs reach their goals. Our company MakerSquare continues to thrive, because our students get help from mentors and we get help from advisors.

2. People are chasing dreams, not money. At MakerSquare, our curriculum is project-based. In an effort to make our students projects more meaningful, I started a program that we eventually titled Coding for a Cause. The program is designed to take interesting web application ideas that support a good cause and have our students work on them for free as projects. In running this program and MakerSquare in general, I have had the chance to interact with hundreds of developers and entrepreneurs. I can say with confidence that most of these people are chasing their dreams and not money. One aspiring entrepreneur shared that his dream was to give more low income students access to SAT preparatory classes. He was blessed to be born into a wealthy family, so he had the opportunity to prepare for the SATs and be admitted to a recognizable University. His goal was to build a web application that provided free interactive lessons to prepare for the SATs. He wanted this application to be free for all low income students, so they can have the same opportunity he did. I had the pleasure of allowing him to join our Coding for a Cause program and now Prepify is providing free SAT prep for low income students around the country. I have numerous stories that are similar, but I don’t want to go on and on (for example, Connect2Good provides non-profits an easier way to receive donations from people and corporations giving away extra resources like desks, computers, chairs, etc.)

3. The environment encourages you to reach your potential. When I was in college, I was surrounded by people that were aspiring to work at the top consulting firms and investment banks. Most students would be proud that they could drop a lot of jargon like 5x EBITDA, cash is king, and market cap. At times, I did not have a complete understanding of these concepts. However, I did not feel comfortable asking, “why is cash king in a business?” The question seemed too ‘simple’ that I was scared I would feel stupid or inferior. When I am learning how to code or when anyone in the tech community is helping someone to learn how to code, everyone constantly encourages the learner to ask as many questions as possible. Learning to code has taught me, along with so many others, to continue to ask questions until everything makes sense. This concept of never settling until you have a full understanding has translated to everything I want to learn. I always ask questions until it completely makes sense. And now, I believe I have such a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship, technology, and startups. I might even have the opportunity to be a keynote speaker for a 350 person event at the University of Texas. I thank this community I have been referencing for allowing me to aspire for such exciting goals.

For all the people who have seen me along this journey of becoming a computer guy (as my brother used to call me) and an entrepreneur or anyone that may have randomly ended up reading this post, I encourage you to give the tech and startup scene a shot. I swear you will think it’s amazing as well.

 

 

8 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why the Tech and Startup Scenes are Amazing

  1. Testing this commenting system. Why is no one commenting? Please! It makes me feel like someone is reading this thing.

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  2. mithipati says:

    Reblogged this on Coding & Lattes and commented:
    The maker of MakerSquare speaks…

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  3. mateoclarke says:

    Thanks for sharing your entrepreneurship story Shaan. Glad to see Coding for a Cause getting some recognition. Keep up that good work!

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  4. Shaan Shah says:

    @Mateo For sure! Million Mile Month was great. And I am excited that you’re still consistently working on various projects that help a greater good man.

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  5. Shaan Shah says:

    I would also like to announce that Parag didn’t waste any time. He’s been thinking about switching for some time, but I think the blog post pushed him over the edge.

    Parag quit his Corporate America job and is starting at MakerSquare in 7 weeks. Yee. #thenewfuture. Who’s next?

    Read his post on the ‘new beginning’ http://paragdadhaniya.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/new-beginning/comment-page-1/#comment-1

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] become an entrepreneur; now, how do you actually get started? So far, I have written a blog about why the tech/startup culture is amazing and I shared a couple stories of how two individuals were able to get involved with a startup. […]

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  7. A Parikh says:

    Shaan and Fellow-Comment-Browsers,

    I found the last few posts very inspirational mainly because I currently have the “golden handcuffs” of Corporate America on. Like some of the other people that have posted I too followed the path that everyone is supposed to follow: business undergrad, internship, choose between I-banking or Consulting, I chose Consulting, work hard, get promoted, got promoted, go to tier-1 MBA school, went to a tier-1 MBA school, took a job at a Fortune 500 company. After all that, I look back and I think did I really add to my bottom-line (i know added to my company’s or my client’s bottom line, but what about mine). The reason this post resonated so much with me is because not only does it highlight some of the thoughts that I had recently, but it really sheds light into new areas of thinking.

    1) Career Calling vs. Career Path – In every post-MBA interview that you give there will be a point in the conversation when the interviewer will ask you “do you see yourself going down the CFO or COO path.” You pick one and give a clever explanation why, but who knows if thats really where you’ll end up or not. I believe as Millenials start to conduct interviews, and more importantly those that have gone through the current tech-boom/revolution, will ask “will this job be what you really want do, is this your calling?” I think passion, desire, and intensity will start be more important factors in determing your next job then any line-item accomplishment that you can post on your resume. However these aren’t qualities that can be taught, matter of fact I believe the best way one can learn them is through osmosis. I inherently believe that those that work at start-ups are passionate, intense, and disciplined; thus working with or at a startup will enable you to examine what makes you tick and how to learn the skills that the new economy will value.

    2) Development thru Enablement – I liken the entirety of the tech-revolution to being thrown into the deep-end of a swimming pool. You have to fight to survive, your weaknesses are highlighted, but you also find hidden strenghts. You focus intently on what needs to be done and cut out un-necessary noise. You develop yourself (i.e – finance guy learns coding, tech-guy learns marketing, etc…) to get the job done, to become a more holistic person. The idea of constantly developing is something so basic to human existence but so foriegn in present companies. What I know of Shaan and MakerSquare is that it is it’s mission to arm individuals with the skills and qualities to continuously develop, a long forgotten trait so basic to humans. Godspeed Shaan and MakerSquare.

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  8. […] I’d find greater satisfaction working for a smaller company. Shaan Shah’s thoughts about the tech and startup scene is a great first-hand account about the positive aspects of those areas and was one of the […]

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