Prior to founding SoloLearn, Yeva Hyusyan built a startup accelerator for mobile games, consumer apps, and ag-tech solutions. In a previous role, she implemented World Bank and USG programs in business, education, sales, developer ecosystem development and strategic partnerships as a General Manager at Microsoft.
Yeva holds an MBA in Corporate Strategy from Maastricht School of Management (the Netherlands), an MS in International Economics from Yerevan State University (Armenia), and completed the Executive Program from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Yeva has been named to the Crunchbase-compiled list of 50 Female Entrepreneurs To Watch in 2019.
What is your business and what do you do?
SoloLearn is training today’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow that require increased technology ability. We are the world’s largest online community learning platform where 20 million coders learn, create, and share programming content with peers. Our SoloLearn app allows learners to master programming languages by completing fun, engaging lessons and quizzes, interacting socially with community members, and much more. It’s is free to anyone on iOS or Android, or via our website. The platform is ideal for beginners just starting to learn how to code, for advanced developers brushing up on their skills, and for those seeking a career pivot and needing to upskill or reskill. Our platform teaches the skills in highest demand with employers: software development and data science & analytics. SoloLearn is on-demand and accessible, and can be accessed anytime, anywhere, even offline. Learners do not need physical class space because all content is available on either mobile or desktop. Our courses are optimized for learning on-the-go, and self-paced learning allows for flexibility and speed in working towards proficiency.
We have been honored with a Google Play Editor’s Choice Award, Facebook’s FbStart Global App of the Year Award, and we are the #1 result in Google Play and the App Store for people searching to “learn how to code”.
What sparked your vision to launch your business?
My path to co-founding SoloLearn was a bumpy one, much like every other entrepreneur who is starting something from nothing. I was born and raised in the Soviet Union and after the U.S.S.R collapsed, Armenia lost everything. Half the population became poor overnight, but the cutting-edge engineering and tech programs were not lost. Armenia’s post-Communism tech sector grew 20% year-over-year and provided unique career opportunities.
In 2010, I applied for a job with Microsoft, which was opening an innovation center in Armenia that I couldn’t pass up. I got hired to start one of the first startup accelerators in Eastern Europe where we built products with student teams ranging from mobile games to robots. I later worked on developing a coding bootcamp that had a 90 percent placement rate and was fully sponsored by Armenian tech companies. These on-the-job learning experiences eventually led to the launch of SoloLearn.
We launched SoloLearn in 2014 with the intention of further developing a coding bootcamp program. But, this time, we chose mobile as the main platform to make coding classes accessible to more people around the globe. It was so obvious to us at the time that the way to reach as many people as possible, even if it was something as complex as learning how to code, was to go through mobile platforms.
What has been your favorite failure and what did you learn?
In the beginning, we released a new and separate mobile app for every type of programming language we could think of, which was a popular strategy that many mobile apps developers used at the time. We thought it would be more powerful to hone in on the unique characteristics of each language through individual apps. But what was funny was how far afield we took it, pursuing things like Photoshop, Photography, and even Makeup Application. We learned it was too hard to realistically maintain separate mobile apps for everything we wanted to do, so we consolidated into what you see today. But some of the individual apps we released are still popular today, like our SoloLearn for Python app.
What was your most memorable day of your career and why?
The most memorable day of my career was the launch of SoloLearn because my co-founder and I took a big leap of faith away from the jobs we had that were sponsored by Microsoft. We had a lot of free reign to do what we wanted and the security knowing we always had a paycheck. But then we took the biggest risk of our professional lives by going out on our own. We eventually had success raising venture capital funding led by Learn Capital, a VC fund that led a $1.2 million financing round. At that moment, I knew we had a business that others besides us believed we could scale.
How do you continue to learn so you stay ahead in your industry?
We continue to learn every day because our community demands it from us. One of the most powerful things about SoloLearn is this vibrant community of developers across the world. They keep us honest and, like all healthy communities, let us know when we can do better and when we screw up. We even have new courses developed “By The Community”. Anyone can find popular courses developed by our community, like Kotlin, Design Patterns, Git, Data Structures, etc. The community really helps drive our innovation.
What is some bad advice you hear in your industry or with entrepreneurship that people should avoid?
That women should act like men. I say to that: don’t feel pressured to be like your male colleague. Be yourself, only then can you realize your full potential.
Where can readers find you on social media?
I’m not really on social media as an individual, but if you sign up for SoloLearn, you can find me there where I am quite active within the community and our social feed. Our company is on Twitter and IG: @sololearn