August 7, 2012

Student in the Spotlight: Seth Siegler

![Seth Siegler](

#### How has you Bloc course been going for you?

It’s been a dream. I’ve really wanted to learn how to code for a long time, and I never had time or I didn’t live in the right place where there would be a bootcamp, which is how I wanted to do it. So I started to try to learn on my own last summer, with the Hartl tutorial. And it’s tough to do. So this has been awesome, really, really cool. I’m psyched.

#### And so how did you get started with web applications?

So I started this company called Robot Workshop a couple of years ago, just as a side project. All the tools that are available to real estate agents to put on their sites, like widgets and stuff like that, they’re all such garbage compared to every other industry. And the decent ones are so expensive. So my idea was to make a quality real estate search.

And then it evolved into this neighborhood recommendation engine called Neighborhood Suggester. The idea was something that nobody else was doing in this space. This data company partnered up with me and it turned into a little bit of bigger thing than I could handle, because it was just me and all the development was outsourced. So every time I did something, it was expensive and I never really got what I wanted. That’s how it all began. It was exciting but it was stressful.

#### How expensive was it to build something like that?

Thousands of dollars. Thousands and thousands of dollars. And when I wanted to change something, it was another thousand dollars. So expensive, and just totally out of my hands.

#### Could you describe the frustration of not being able to code on your product?

I got into doing this Startup Alley exhibition at this real estate technology show in San Francisco. I had all the press stuff ready, and the descriptions, and the website was up. The room was paid for and the trip was happening. I was going. Everything was on the line.

The guy I had building it, he was great, a really smart guy, but he was doing it on the side. It was just really, really frustrating to not be able to pull those all-nighters on it. I would do whatever it took to get the app done. If I could write the code, I would stay up all night.

If there was a problem with it during the day, I just couldn’t do anything about it. I swore that next time around it was going to be different. And then I ended up selling both of those apps to a company in San Diego. I worked for them, managing the product development and design. The title was CTO, which is ironic.

#### Did you enjoy that role?

You never get exactly what you think of. The idea is in my head. I wanted so badly to at least be able to prototype something. So the guys, they’re great programmers, but there’s only so much you can communicate, unless you can demonstrate yourself what exactly you’re thinking. To me it would be an absolute dream to have the technical chops to be able to at least prototype my own apps, and then build a team around it.

#### How many ideas do you have a day?

(laughs) I do get ideas all the time – at night lying in bed, or in the shower, something like that. All of a sudden it hits you.

#### I think I know the feeling. So tell me more about the course. What was your favorite thing about the course?

It’s like a good balance. I think the big thing it taught me was how to learn. You learn to code; you also learn how to learn how to code. You’ve got the mentor, which is awesome; they’re there to answer your questions. But they tell you what resources to use to learn on your own. And that is awesome because now when the class ends, I know how to do it.  And I think that is huge.

#### Yeah, you’re more confident.

To build that foundation and then be able to build on that, it’s monstrously huge. It’s starting with the basics that makes a difference. It makes it so you can take small bites and actually get it done. And at the end of these few weeks – it’s already unbelievable. It’s six weeks in and I can’t believe how much I learned.

#### That’s so great to hear. We’ll be glad to have you as one of our alumni.

Yeah, I’m hoping to be an early success for you guys.

#### What sort of personality traits do you think are important to be a successful Bloc student?

You have to be self-motivated, for sure. No one is making you do the homework. Self-motivated and having a hunger to actually learn this stuff. If you have that, you’ll be able to do it. I had no coding knowledge at all coming into this.

#### What are your hobbies?

I’m really into sailboat racing. I’ve done that my entire life. I like to skateboard.

#### Did you say skateboard? How long have you been doing that?

I skateboarded when I was a kid, and then I didn’t skateboard for the next 20 years. A few years ago I got back into it a bit. I’m more into the longboard type skating now. Which is awesome in San Diego. It’s just hilly enough.

#### Did you work in addition to doing the Bloc course?

I’m with Showing Suite still, so I’m still head of product there. Full-time job. I get there at 7 in the morning. The good news is I get out at 4. The bad news is that I can’t stay up that late. I have to make myself go to sleep a lot, at night, which sucks. Because that is usually the best time to code.

#### How do you see yourself using the skills that you’ve gained from Bloc in the future?

I’ve had this one particular idea that’s for this app.  I have one idea that has been haunting me for the last year or so. I’ve already started to build that, which is incredible, just an awesome feeling. When I typed the “Rails New” – the name of it – it was an awesome feeling. This is finally happening. Super exciting.

#### Is there anything you’d like to tell future Bloc students?

I think this is the kind of thing where you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. So the more you put in, the more you’re going to get out of it. Be sure to dedicate the time and give it your all, because the payoff is worth it. And then also of course, keep the faith through the harder times. You’re going to get stuck, you know that, from time to time. Take advantage of the expertise that you have available to you with the mentors. And enjoy it. It’s fun. I’m kind of bummed that the end is near. Only two weeks left in my cohort.

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