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Eugene van der Merwe
Eugene van der Merwe

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The Closing Down of Laravel Academy Cape Town

In the last six months I have decided to close down a business I started two years ago called β€œLaravel Academy Cape Town”.

To be honest this business never really made it from the start. There are so many reasons for it. Starting a new business is a risky (ad)venture!

Here is some background and some of the reasons why I am closing up shop on ”The Academy”:

I love Laravel. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying I am fanatical about Laravel. Laravel is an extension of another part of computer science that I love so much namely programming. And I love people and to explain tech stuff.

But make no mistake, I am not a teacher. I just love to make breakthroughs in understanding and to break down concepts into more everyday simplistic forms. I’ve never held a teaching job in my life except for here and there, mostly work related things where I had to explain tech or products to other people.

The first part of why this academy failed was the venue. At the time I started I had a vague idea that OfferZen Make would be willing to let me use or rent their venue for a good price. And for the very first class that was indeed the case - I didn’t have to pay a cent. However, straight after that, OfferZen Make moved their venue and re-invented their business model so I lost the venue. That was quite a big setback.

The second part of why the academy failed is it’s offline. Although teaching in person is super exhilarating (to me at least!) that’s not how it’s done in tech. In tech, the best teachers reach for scale. People like Jeffrey Way and Povilas Korop have mastered teaching Laravel online. It’s not that I knew Jeffrey existed, in fact, the first four years of my Laravel career was chasing Laracasts.com as hard as I could. I also heavily promoted Jeffrey Way and Laracasts in my first (and only!) class as I really think he is top of his game.

But β€œcompeting” offline with "online" as a tech teacher is just dumb.

The third reason why the academy failed is because I did it for love. Being passionate about business can sort of work, but in this case emotion was a hindrance and made things look unrealistic and rosy. I had zero academy experience and it would have taken years to build one up, unless I had investment. And I’m not really someone who chases investment whilst I’m busy building so hard.

The fourth reason why the academy failed is because my attention went elsewhere. I started three businesses at the time of starting the academy, namely a hosting business (Vander Host), and a programming company (specializing in Laravel of course) called Fintech Systems.

This whole mission of a career change to programming and an academy and so on started when I fell in love with Laravel and programming all over many years ago. So when I started the academy at the beginning of 2019, I suddenly went into overdrive being an entrepreneur again, and tried to get programming jobs too. The fact is you can only do so much with your time, and a new business, e.g. an academy, takes a huge amount of focus. Multiple businesses meant less focus.

I would like to emphasize that there is no loss to me in closing down the business. I didn’t learn that much in the adventure, except perhaps that I am not good with building a teacher-led academy and that offline doesn’t compete well with online.

I’m not blaming Covid either, but certainly looking into the future the world of teaching has now accelerated hecticly fast to the online world.

In terms of money, I spent around $4000 on 12 Intel NUC PCs which I’ve started handing out in the last few months. I can sell the computers, but they are so cute and nice I don’t feel monetary value attached to them. Plus they run Linux Mint so well that I feel I’m doing my friends and some random people some good. And I love my own NUC, 32 GB RAM and so quiet and small and blissful in the corner.

I didn’t even spend much time developing the academy either. It just, well, failed.

The plus side of this is I am able to make this decision. I had an Internet CafΓ© business many years ago that didn’t make money and I was emotionally attached and couldn’t close it down. This time, no problem.

The minor resources I’m saving are:

  • No more β€œanother Twitter handle”
  • Another WordPress marketing website
  • One less email address

Less technical debt. What a blessing.

Adios Laravel Academy Cape Town <3 I loved the idea of you

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