#54: Skillcrush Founder, Adda Birnir on Going From Side Project to 15,000 Students Learning to Code

About the Episode:

In today’s episode, we’re talking to Adda Birnir, the founder and CEO of Skillcrush, a leading online education platform that helps people learn valuable tech skills—whether that’s to transition careers, launch a freelance web development business, or to start building your own products.

Adda, originally a student in Fine Arts at Yale University, first made her way into the workforce as an artist’s assistant.. and eventually found herself in the media industry. This was in 2009 which was a very tumultuous time for economies around the world, and living in New York City, working as a media assistant, did not make Adda immune to the mass layoffs that were rocking her industry.

After getting laid off, she looked around and noticed that the only people at her previous company who’d kept their jobs were those with technical skills the web developers and designers who actually built & maintained the company’s websites.

That was a defining moment for Adda and it was right here that her journey into coding got started. Over the course of the next couple years, she’d teach herself how to code, collaborate to build side projects with friends and mentors.

That eventually led her to launch Skillcrush her company that’s dedicated to teaching tech skills, with a primary focus on serving women—who’ve traditionally been underrepresented in these roles.

Since 2012, Skillcrush has grown to serve more than 15,000 students.

In Today’s Episode, We Talk About:

[02:38] What book she’s reading at the moment.
[03:54] Where she’s from and her background.
[06:20] The career she expected to have after graduating from college.
[09:07] When she started caring about technical skills.
[11:08] When she started learning how to program.
[14:15] What the learning process was like.
[15:42] The first side project she built using her skills.
[17:57] How Skillcrush started.
[20:20] About her first paying client.
[23:26] How she built her first community.
[28:42] The number of students that have come through Skillcrush.
[30:22] The most challenging part of her job.
[32:43] Her number one piece of advice for anyone looking to start an online business today.
[36:18] Ideas she’s tried that have failed.
[37:37] The best investment she’s ever made in growing her business.

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Resources mentioned:

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

Connect with My Guest:


Adda on LinkedIn and Twitter

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We're chatting with Skillcrush founder Adda Birnir about how she grew her idea for an online tech education platform from a small side project selling eBooks to now over 15,000 paying students going through her intensive courses for learning how to code.




One response to “#54: Skillcrush Founder, Adda Birnir on Going From Side Project to 15,000 Students Learning to Code”

  1. DNN Avatar

    I can’t sit here in front that building a side hustle business from the ground floor up is a piece of cake. This is really a lot of work because when you look at it, there’s no pension involved, no retirement benefits additionally, no side 401K plan, no health benefits, Etc. This is what you absolutely make of it. I commend anyone that builds a side hustle business from the ground floor up because it takes a lot of ambition and energy to create lots and lots of content and stay on track with doing the transformation business work.

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