CommunityMarcus & Charlotte Launched a Successful Web App While Traveling the World

Faye Bridge
writes on August 30, 2014

Digital Nomads Marcus and Charlotte left their London jobs to embark on freelance careers in web design and development, while traveling the world. To expand and improve their skills, they joined Treehouse to continue learning on their travels. Along the way, inspired by their shared passion to keep fit, Marcus and Charlotte came up with the concept for a web app to share their knowledge and help others keep fit anywhere, anytime. With the skills they’d fine tuned on Treehouse, using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, Marcus and Charlotte were able to create and launch Sweat Roulette. With such a positive response to the web app, they’re now working towards the release of the next iteration.

We caught up with Marcus and Charlotte to ask them a few questions about their learning experience and launching their first app.

What first drew you both to the web industry?

Marcus: Years ago my brother lent me his book on HTML. At the time I was at college studying Graphic Design and doing some design work for clients on the side to make a bit of money to buy driving lessons or whatever. I started offering to design and build really small, static websites which went down really well with local businesses and even got me a small column about it with my photo in the local paper. The more I played and learned HTML and CSS the more I really enjoyed what I was doing, I also played with WordPress back then and made a blog but that was the extent of it. Learning to code was just searching for “How to” do this or that and reading books. How languages and ways of learning them (I’m looking at you, Treehouse) have improved from then has continued to grip my interest.

Charlotte: I studied Graphic Design at University, although previously I focussed a lot more on illustration and handmade pieces. Marcus and I both planned to freelance whilst travelling this year, so having to carry lots of materials round with me for work wouldn’t be practical. I envied Marcus being able to work just from his laptop, so took up a Treehouse subscription to see what all the fuss was about, and it’s not half bad! Web development is such an in demand skill at the moment it just seemed an obvious pairing with my Graphic Design skills.

What are your current job titles?

Marcus & Charlotte: We’ve actually both left our jobs to travel the world and do freelance Design & Web Development, so we’re not really sure. Digital Nomads?

What work were you both doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?

Marcus: I was in Advertising, my last role being a ‘Content Creative’ which basically translates to making stuff that people actually want to use/see, instead of just advertisements. Some projects I worked closely with the Development team – they had a group account on Treehouse and gave me my first taste. Since then I’ve been hooked.

Charlotte: I’d recently left my job as a Visual Merchandiser to work as a freelance designer before setting off on our travels. Marcus kept banging on about a little something called Treehouse, so I signed up for the 14 day free trial and never looked back.

Specifically which Treehouse Tracks did you focus on and what were the most useful features for you?

Marcus: Coming from self learning HTML and CSS I was really keen to complete the HTML and CSS Deep Dive sections – I was blown away by how much in each language I had missed. Learning JavaScript was a real eye opener for me too. It was one thing making good looking websites, but a whole other ballgame being able to make them interactive. My favourite feature on the site has to be the points and badges. I’m a sucker for competition.

Charlotte: I started with the basics as I’d never done web design before, so began with HTML. I was surprised how many little bits and pieces I already knew from messing around on websites at school. Then I went on to do the CSS section which was a lot harder but more rewarding. I love how you get a real personality from the tutors, sometimes I’m sat there laughing at their intros and outros!

Your awesome web app Sweat Roulette has already been a huge success and was even recently featured in the press! Tell us about Sweat Roulette’s  backstory and the experiencing of launching your first app.

Marcus & Charlotte: So Sweat Roulette was a web-app that we put together using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. We came up with the idea while on the beach in Malta as a way to stay fit as we were travelling. A web-app worked well because it’d be available anywhere on any device. Tabata, a form of high Intensity Interval Training is where we drew the workout inspiration from. Instead of going to and searching YouTube for a good follow-along video, we can now just go to Sweat Roulette and press go.

It only took a few days to make but the initial response from when we shared it was crazy. It validated the idea for us and showed us what areas we can build on in the next iteration.

What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?

Marcus: It’s priceless. Knowledge is a powerful thing and Treehouse has such an inviting and great way to learn there’s no reason not to. Considering the price as well compared to traditional routes of learning, it’s a no brainer for sure.

Charlotte: It’s given me another string to my bow as a freelance designer, and not surprisingly my most in demand one. Web design courses can be so expensive so it’s been great to learn at my own pace for such a small fee.

What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?

Marcus: I don’t really make plans, everything changes anyway. I can only hope to learn as much as I can and continue to build solid skills that’ll see me through life. Up next I want to focus on iOS app development.

Charlotte: Other than travelling and freelancing for the next year, I don’t really have any plans. I’m open to just seeing where our travels take us. I’ve recently got into blogging so am working on the WordPress track.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are working towards launching their own apps?

Marcus: You can plan to make something great but you’ll never do it if you don’t start it. Even if you don’t finish what you start but learn something while doing it, it’s been worthwhile. I have loads of unfinished projects! Also, tell people what you’re building. A lot of people like to be really secretive about their projects, I’ve never been like that unless it’s truly confidential. There are a lot of problems that can be avoided just by talking to people early on.

Charlotte: Come up with an idea you’re passionate about, that way you’ll have fun designing and building it. Marcus and I both enjoy keeping fit, and built Sweat Roulette for ourselves as much as everyone else.

10 Responses to “Marcus & Charlotte Launched a Successful Web App While Traveling the World”

  1. I googled a lot about Charlotte. Found here nowhere. Can anybody here provide her blog, twitter or facebook address? I really wanna get inspired by her as I got by Marcus after reading his blog.
    Please Do reply with any link I can find her on.

  2. Marcus and Charlotte appear to have the kind of lifestyle that most can only dream of. I know you don’t necessarily need a lot of money to travel, but I’d love to know how they are financing this – is it just through the freelance work they do or have they got money from savings / parents / loans?

    As someone wanting this kind of life themselves it would be great to know the answer to the above!

    • Hey Jamie, great question, hopefully I can answer it to your satisfaction!

      It’s a mix of luck and frugality – when we were working we lived a modest lifestyle, always within our means so we saved up enough money to kick-start our travels. I’m lucky to have family abroad that we can stay with from time to time. Our savings pay the brunt of the costs, for example flights, food, accommodation etc. And as coding and design can be done from nearly any location – once you’ve done the leg work to get solid clients, it’s just a matter of topping up the fund on the go.

      If you want to chat more I’m on twitter: @marcusmichaels

  3. Jonathan on August 31, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

    I totally agree with you.

  4. What an honour, thanks for featuring us!

  5. Is it just me, or are most of the treehouse success stories, people who have had previous experience in the computing industry or have had experience in web design before?

    • Jonathan on August 31, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

      I totally agree with you.

    • Faye Bridge on September 1, 2014 at 6:04 am said:

      Hi Emma! For the most recent stories we’ve shared on the blog, our students have had some prior experience. However every day we also speak to countless students who joined Treehouse with zero previous experience, and now are embarking on successful careers in the web industry. 🙂 We’ll be sharing some of those stories on the blog soon, so definitely keep an eye out. In the meantime, we also have a collection of stories on our Treehouse Student Stories page, if you’d like to check them out! http://teamtreehouse.com/stories

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