It’s time for another issue of the Teacher Spotlight, where we interview one of the Treehouse Teachers so you can get to know them a little better offscreen, and enjoy a sneak peek into their story, their inspirations and what makes them tick.
This month the spotlight is on Treehouse teacher Pasan Premaratne. In his interview, Pasan talks about his passion for business and entrepreneurship, why “Business Types” should learn to code, his favorite thought leaders in the industry, and the top resources and services he recommends for entrepreneurs.
When did you first become interested in the world of business, finance and entrepreneurship?
I think I’ve always been interested in business and entrepreneurship in general, I can’t really pinpoint a specific time. My parents were entrepreneurs, and so were a lot of my extended family as well, so I guess you could say it’s always been a goal to start something of my own.
How did your career evolve and bring you to Treehouse?
My original career goal was to be an investment banker, but I soon realized that this wasn’t the industry I wanted to be in. I’ve always been interested in technology and after some time trying hard to find a job that I cared about, I decided to take a leap of faith, call it quits on finance and jump into the tech industry. I found a great resource called Think Vitamin Membership, now Treehouse and I started teaching myself the basics – HTML, CSS and all that good stuff. After that I spent around a year freelancing, learning the ropes and getting to know the community.
All throughout school and for some time after, I was also a member of a wonderful organization called SIFE (Students in Free Entreprise), now called Enactus, where I spent a lot of time helping entrepreneurs with things like accounting, incorporation and basic setting up. We worked with some startup incubators and companies directly and I learned a lot from it. The combination of the two skill sets, and the company’s mission, made Treehouse an ideal place to join.
Why do you believe that “Business Types” should learn to code?
Even if you don’t want to end up in the technology industry, as a developer or designer, coding has become a base skill, like math, that everyone should at least understand. Many job roles now require you to know some form of programming, and why shouldn’t it, almost everyone works with computers now.
My motivation to learn to code was having an idea and not being able to execute on it. I’ve been to so many networking events where the usual MBA types are in attendance, trying to get developers or designers to help them with their projects. I decided then I didn’t want to be in that position. If I had an idea sometime in the future, I wanted to be in a position to just start prototyping it immediately.
Everyone should take time, I think, to learn a skill that will soon be ubiquitous. Be ahead of the game, so you’re not playing catch up essentially. The key is finding what motivates you to get started. Look around you, find a problem you would like to solve in your life, and see think about how you could automate that. It doesn’t have to be limited to software either – Andrew is doing a great job applying his knowledge to move into the hardware space.
Who are some of your favorite thought leaders in the industry at the moment?
I have lots different thought leaders I follow because I’m interested in so many aspects of the technology industry. But if I had to pick one person, I’d say it’s Elon Musk. To be involved in creating one great company is amazing – to work on three big things (Tesla, SpaceX and this magical Hyperloop we keep hearing about) is a very impressive feat. He really fights to make his vision come to reality and that’s a quality I want to emulate.
In terms of people who are great to follow for advice and learning my recommendations would be Mark Suster and Jason Fried. This is a shameless plug but I just started a weekly newsletter service called Missing Links where I put together articles from all my favorite thought leaders and more. If you really want to know who I follow, subscribe and I’ll let you know
What is the most valuable advice you would give Treehouse students who are interested in starting a business?
This is definitely clichéd, but it’s probably the best advice out there – Just start doing things. It’s the best way to learn. Start building a random iPhone or Android app. You will learn lot’s of things about the ecosystem along the way and when you have a real idea, you will be sitting on top of all this knowledge.
What are some of the top new web apps, resources, or services you’d recommend entrepreneurs should check out?
I’m a voracious reader and Pocket has to be my favorite app. It’s so easy to get sidetracked on HackerNews or my twitter feed reading interesting articles but Pocket saves the day by letting me just tuck it away for later.
Other things, off the top of my head – Freshbooks for small business accounting and iA Writer to power through any writing needs. Although anyone who writes in any form should check out Draft – an amazing app.
What are you learning at the moment on Treehouse?
iOS development. It’s always been a goal of mine and I’m finally jumping on board. My aim is to have an app on the app store shortly after iOS 7 is released. It gives me a deadline that I can work towards.
Tell us something about yourself you don’t think anyone would ever assume!
I’ve lived in 5 cities, on 3 continents, in the past 10 years. You definitely learn how to make great friends in a short time and relate to people better. My goal is to live in a total of 10 awesome cities in my life!