[Guest Post] Are Self Taught Coders Better Coders?

It’s hard to say definitively, but trends seem to be leaning away from traditional schooling and more towards people teaching themselves. In the past few years, I’ve had the honor to come across few commendable coders and to my surprise, they didn’t visit any college, few of them not even completed the schooling.


So the question arises: What traits differentiate someone who was self-taught vs. someone who acquired their skills through schooling?


It might come down to something like “I travel because I love to explore and I travel because I have to.”


I use the term code junkie, someone addicted to code. This tech person thinks about coding every moment he spends. These are adorn with a passion for coding and can set the things for you even at the midnight during their sleeping hours.


Let’s take few examples of those who went the self taught route; I believe you might have heard these names:

  •    Larry Ellison (Oracle)
  •    Daniel Ek (Spotify)
  •    Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak (Apple)
  •    Michael Dell (Dell)
  •    Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
  •    Jack Dorsey (Twitter)
  •    Mike Lazaridis (Research in Motion)
  •    David Karp (Tumblr)


… and more


Each of these dropped out of college, apart from David Karp (he dropped out in high school). They have created new standards in technology and undoubtedly have changed the way we live.


These are all famous names today. But there are also plenty of notable coders who might not be as famous, yet still deserving appreciation and appraisals. Let us have a look at five such self-made coders:


1-    Varun Shoor: At the age of 13, he became a self-taught programmer and at 17 started his first company (Kayako). The guy from India seems like he was born with coding instincts. However, the efforts and time he put in can’t be denied. His teenage venture a few years back (2009) introduced cost-free full licenses for open source software products and charity.

The best part about Kayako is that to date they haven’t received any sort of funding from any external investor. Kayako is now headquartered in London, and still has two offices in India located in Jalandhar and Gurgaon.


2-    Pete Cashmore: He never attended college and at the age of 19 founded one of the most visited online publication, Mashable. Not only this, this self-made coder is today in the Time Magazine’s list of top 100 influential people. Today, his net worth is estimated at $95 million.

Cashmore has received numerous acknowledgments including Forbes’ Top 25 Web Celebs and Top 10 Game Changers by Huffington Post, in 2009. This young global leader (as recognized by The World Economic Forum) creation now has more than 3,200,000 fans on Facebook and over 6,000,000 followers on Twitter.


3-    Danielle Morrill: Coding isn’t just a boys’ club. Danielle Morrill left college in 2007 to become the first Twilio employee to make ‘Top Tech People to Watch’ by Forbes. She has now left the company and is working with Mattermark as co-founder and CEO.

Prior to this, this woman in tech was also a co-founder and CEO at Referly Inc. Her journey easily demonstrates her passion for technology.


4-    Sahil Lavingia: After dropping out his first semester from USC, he became the designer of Pinterest (as the second employee). He also founded Gumroad in his teens. His love for coding started when he was 14, busy designing mobile applications for iOS.

Tons of independent and famous artists have used Gumroad to sell their products. The list includes Garth Brooks, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Bon Jovi, etc. According to an article in Wired, an illustrator named Kyle Webster took his earnings over $100,000 by selling custom brushes. His website has commendably managed to raise more than $8.1 million funds to date (in two separate rounds).


5-    Kevin Systrom: The 32-year-old founder of Instagram wasn’t a programmer. Instead, he was working in marketing. However, due to the interest that rose with time, he started giving time to learning coding after his office hours. Once acquaint with coding, it took him around 8 weeks to create his first app.

The same app later evolved into what we now call Instagram. In less than a year of its release, Instagram had a huge response and eventually led to Facebook acquiring it for $1 billion. Kevin got listed in Forbes 30 under 30, amongst many other features.


Before I sign off

It isn’t about the college or university you belong to or you are planning to go, it’s you and the practice you put in for things like hackathons.  It is the love and passion you need to have for the task at hand.

Coding isn’t an easy skill to learn, but it’s a lot easier if you actually care about what you’re learning.


Remember, to be a successful coder, these are some important traits:

1-    Patience

2-    Courage

3-    Passion

4-    Creativity

5-    Logic


Coders are a distinct species on the planet; make sure you find these traits. Mobile app developers need to have passion, dedication, creativity, logical approach, and patience. Skills can be taught in a classroom, but the passion, that’s more internal. We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but neither is a successful mobile application.  



Ubaid Pisuwala is a co-founder and chief technical officer at Peerbits, one of the top mobile app development companies. He creates new scales and perspectives for the company when it is about serving the technical needs of the clients. As a tech blogger, he prefers to talk about the in & out aspects of technological advancements that are often overlooked. He also like to help individual and agencies who need help in coding at Peerbitsconsultancy.com.