The founders and current CEO/CTO, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, are both former students at Columbia University; Sims dropped out of university and worked in product and business development for startups (including GroupMe and drop.io) and the venture capital industry with AOL Ventures, while Bubinski, who had been building web applications since the age of 15, graduated with a degree in computer science and biophysics. The two originally planned on creating a learning network to connect students with other student teachers, but Sims couldn’t keep up with Babunski in terms of programming. The two then decided to create a resource that, according to Sims, “I would like learning from, and that Ryan would like teaching through.” 5 days after the site went live, it had already gained over 200,000 users, and within one year had raised over $12.5 million in venture capital.
The personal qualities that the founders appear to have that have made their venture a success so far are a mix of enthusiasm and expertise; when they started the company, the pair were in their early 20s, but both already had experience in their field – Sims in business development and Bubinski in programming. They identified a pain point in the market (the need for more professional training programs for programmers) and focused on ‘scalability before profitability’ by offering their courses for free in order to build a large user base.