While studying at university, Phillip Hayes came up with the unique business idea of creating a social network to connect students and employers in the UK. However as a chemistry student with zero coding experience, Phillip’s skill set prevented him from bringing the idea to life, so he set it aside. Once he’d transitioned into a research career, Phillip unexpectedly stumbled across Treehouse. Inspired to revisit his idea, Phillip dove into the beginner courses. After immersing himself in learning, he was finally able to begin building a site. A few months later, and their first prototype for Kloodle—the social network for student employability and early stage careers—was live. Shortly after, they secured seed investment, and today business is steadily growing for Koodle.
Here’s Phillip’s story, in his own words…
“I am a Chemistry graduate from Manchester, UK, and whilst at university had the idea of a social network to connect students and employers together. There is an issue here in the UK with competition for graduate jobs, with upward of 100 people applying for the same role in some instances. There is a real issue for graduates standing out from the crowd, and for companies to differentiate between people who all have essentially the same qualifications. Kloodle would be the professional profile that allowed graduates and students to showcase their talents, and to stand out from the crowd. It would also allow employers to take bigger picture factors into account as opposed to qualifications alone, and make better choices in their hiring.
The problem was, I was a Chemistry student. I could probably synthesise some illicit compounds a la a popular US TV series, but couldn’t knock up a website for anybody’s money. This issue continued for a year as I progressed into a career as a researcher.
I was doing some heavy duty research one day (mainly YouTube and not Chemistry, but hey ho) and came across a YouTube advert for Treehouse. Memories of my business idea was rekindled and I signed up for the site immediately. I followed the courses on HTML, CSS and jQuery initially, and built a prototype for our site, including a simple form that would capture student email addresses. Following true lean startup methodology, I used the landing page and marketing blurb to send to a list of students, and see their response to the premise of the site. Out of 80 students, 30 filled in their details. This was validation I needed to say that the business had legs.
I carried on following the Treehouse courses, learning PHP and started to build out our site. I also learned about the bootstrap framework and have implemented this as the front end framework for our current version of the site. I found our co-founder John Coles, a 19 year old with a penchant for tech and particularly PHP to code the proper back end functionality of the site. I felt like I could really contribute to the full effort with my new found knowledge gained on Treehouse.
We used the MVP to present to Angel Investors in Manchester, and managed to secure seed investment which has allowed us to commence work on the business full time. We have built the site to the stage of a high fidelity MVP and are currently in the throes of signing up users, gaining feedback and improving our offering and our business model.
We still consult Treehouse regularly. I recently had a quick watch of the Git Basics course to brush up on those skills so we can implement proper version control. I have also been through the Rails Course out of personal interest and am developing (at an admittedly slow pace – busy with the main project!) a selection tool for my cricket club using Ruby on Rails. The videos are thoroughly engaging, appropriately paced, and most importantly, within the context of a project. I tried other coding websites before Treehouse, but had difficulty in envisaging how the dry language I was learning would transcend to a full website. Treehouse provides this content and has proved to be just what I needed.
Our business is steadily growing, and interest from UK universities is gathering momentum – all of this wouldn’t have been possible without Treehouse. Many thanks!”