You don’t often read about millionaire teachers, but technology just can’t stop disrupting our industries and our guest today has really capitalised on the platform that is Udemy. Having started Eco Web Hosting in 2006, Maths teacher Rob Percival quickly realised his coding skills could be used to benefit hundreds of thousands of students online. As the creator of some of the most popular courses available on Udemy, Rob is thriving with the opportunity to reach so many people and help change their lives and careers. The money isn’t bad either..
Why did you decide to start your own business?
Back 10 years or so ago I had a bit of time on my hands, I was a teacher so I had time in the holidays and even on weekends. I started to do some website development more out of a bit of fun rather than serious making of money, but quite quickly I started to think maybe this could supplement my income a little bit or even provide an alternative career at some point in the future.
So I went through a few different websites and the first one that was even vaguely successful was Eco Web Hosting. That very early experience of people paying money for something you’ve made was really exciting and I still very much remember that now.
What skill or ability is most important and why?
I think the big one is persistence. So it’s sticking with whatever you’re doing and just keeping going until you get that level of success. That’s definitely what happened with me with Eco Web Hosting when I realised that there was something here that was going somewhere.
It was just a slog really, it was replying to emails everyday and just going on and on and on, and it was doing that on an ongoing basis which gradually, slowly grew Eco Web Hosting and led to other things and the bigger Udemy stuff that I’m doing now.
I think that big message that so few people manage to do is just stick with it, keep going and eventually you’ll get there.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The first one is reply to every email you’ve got. That’ll put you above 95% of everyone else out there and who knows what each email will lead to.
Talk to everyone that you can, tell them what you’re doing, ask for advice and just try and get what you’re doing out there and make sure that you’re doing the right things by talking to people and getting feedback as much as you possibly can.
Number three is stay positive, don’t led bad press or bad reviews get you down. I’ve definitely been tempted in the past to…not quite throw in the towel..but definitely think it’s all pointless and there’s no way this is going to be successful because you get an angry email or bad review or whatever, but it happens and you’ve just gotta take it with the good stuff and carry on.
Last piece of advice is the Paul Graham statement of ‘make something people want’ and I think I’ve done that twice in my life with Eco Web Hosting and the Udemy courses and that feeling is just phenomenal. Compared to everything else that I’ve done where I’ve had to work quite hard to sell it and get it out there and it feels like a slog…those two things, at least to some extent have just sold themselves. When you’ve made something people want, you really know that you’ve done it and it’s a great feeling, you’ve just got to carry on with it.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job at the moment is helping so many people learn web development and app development at the same time.
Comparing my life now to when I was a teacher- that was great because you had this direct contact with your students and you saw them regularly and in person but right now I can help 300,000 people in one go with my courses.
Getting the feedback from them and realising that their lives and careers have changed and they’ve made the app they’ve always wanted to make and everything like that…just doing that at the scale that I’m doing at the moment is so exciting.