TITLE: Just Build Things AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 09, 2012 5:12 PM DESC: ----- BODY: The advantage of knowing how to program is that you can. The danger of knowing how to program is that you will want to. From Paul Graham's How to Get Startup Ideas:
Knowing how to hack also means that when you have ideas, you'll be able to implement them. That's not absolutely necessary..., but it's an advantage. It's a big advantage, when you're considering an idea ..., if instead of merely thinking, "That's an interesting idea," you can think instead, "That's an interesting idea. I'll try building an initial version tonight."
Writing programs, like any sort of fleshing out of big ideas, is hard work. But what's the alternative? Not being able to program, and then you'll just need a programmer. If you can program, what should you do?
[D]on't take any extra classes, and just build things. ... But don't feel like you have to build things that will become startups. That's premature optimization. Just build things.
Even the professor in me has to admit this is true. You will learn a lot of valuable theory, tools, and practices in class. But when a big idea comes to mind, you need to build it. As Graham says, perhaps the best way that universities can help students start startups is to find ways to "leave them alone in the right way". Of course, programming skills are not all you need. You'll probably need to be able to understand and learn from users:
When you find an unmet need that isn't your own, it may be somewhat blurry at first. The person who needs something may not know exactly what they need. In that case I often recommend that founders act like consultants -- that they do what they'd do if they'd been retained to solve the problems of this one user.
That's when those social science courses can come in handy. -----