MOOC Review: Startup Engineering

     Startup Engineering is a Coursera-hosted course that is built around a college course offered at Stanford University. It extends beyond Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup that was also offered as a MOOC through Stanford’s online courseware. Where Thiel’s course was mostly philosophical – what a startup needs, how to come up with the vision, etc. – Startup Engineering is more about execution. What do you need to actually execute your idea? The course attempts to cover the technical essentials using node.js as a framework, as well as the practical essentials such as marketing, analytics, and mobile support.
What made this course great at the start also ended up being its most major pitfalls: it wasn’t able to deliver on its ambitious agenda, at least not as quickly as the organizers wanted. The course suffered from not being able to meet deadlines, no one knew when anything was due, and ultimately they had to extend the course by two weeks to compensate.
     Tough the course wasn’t necessarily well organized, the content more than made up for it. The professors were able to get through extremely difficult JavaScript concepts, teaching us how to design and host our website using Twittter Bootstrap and Heroku. We also learned how to develop on a remote machine using Amazon Web Services, though there’s a lot more to learn about that, as well as keep track of our work using github. Here’s a link to my github account.
     The idea behind the course was to teach students how to develop a mobile app, specifically a crowdfunder that could be used to “pre-finance” their startup. Though I didn’t have a startup idea to develop, it was still awesome to be able to turn my code into a tangible site that could actually receive bitcoin payments through Coinbase. Though the site is functional, it’s by no means finished, but here’s a link anyway.
     Overall, though, I think the class achieved its aim, despite the pitfalls, which was to have students “learn how to turn knowledge into power.”


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