November 16, 2013

An interview with Ryan Carson

Ryan Carson (his Twitter) is the founder of the conference Future of Web Apps and the company Treehouse. The latter is an online interactive education platform where you can learn how to build websites & apps, write code, or start a business. This interview is from 2011.

Lessons learned
  • Ryan Carson grew up in a conservative family and felt he needed change - his life was good, he had an education, but he felt he was missing something. So he decided to move abroad to England. 
  • While in England and with inspiration from the move Fight Club, he founded "The creative Fight Club" which was a meetup where they talked about web design. The meetings were organized in the same way as the fights in the movie - they were independent and didn't have a schedule. In the end, there were 60 meetings in 8 countries.    
  • Ryan Carson worked as a web developer but realized how he always thought he could do it better on his own.
  • If you want to be at the center of an industry - no matter what it is - throw a conference. You become the center of that industry and it builds up your credibility.
  • He could validate the idea behind Treehouse by first making a super-simple prototype and then tweet out the link to the prototype. To fund the idea, he used money from the conference business. The idea behind Treehouse is that the content will always be updated. If you study programming in school, the content will almost always be not updated and books are more expensive than Treehouse. 
  • Try to charge money from day 1.
  • Don't be afraid of large iterations - change the name, rebuild the product from scratch - even though you are profitable.
  • Use a newsletter - several users are no longer Treehouse customers, but they are still interested in the newsletter. Write with a personal style - don't be a computer.

More articles in the same series: Lessons learned from the Foundation interviews