Janosch Herrmann is a computer science student and frontend developer from Germany. Starting at the age of 15, he developed an interest in entrepreneurship and has built and launched various projects ever since, like his online courses on tools like Notion & Zapier. More recently, he’s working on bestcourses.io, which is an online course discovery & comparison platform. To date, bestcourses aggregates more than 200,000 online courses from 15+ online learning platforms, like Udemy, Coursera & Skillshare. In addition, the platform offers multiple other tools for online learners, aimed at making the online learning experience frictionless. These include tools like the platform finder, which allows users to easily discover online learning platform that suit them, or bestcourses deals, which compiles online learning deals from all major learning platforms.
Since its launch in early 2022, the platform has grown to more than 600,000 monthly impressions and thousands of users.
Where did the idea for bestcourses.io come from?
I have been teaching online courses myself since late 2019, so I was familiar with the online learning ecosystem. At some point in the summer of 2021 when looking for an online course myself, I noticed that it was really hard to keep track of different online learning providers and what they had to offer – there are just so many online courses out there and everyday, more get added.
That’s when I thought of a platform that combines the offers of all these online course providers and makes it easier for end users to search through the vast library of available courses.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
To be honest, I don’t really have a super strong routine. Virtually every day looks a bit different, since I still go to university and run bestcourses on the side. Usually, I’ll work from home though, just getting done whatever needs to get done. Some coffee helps as well 😀
How do you bring ideas to life?
Really depends on the type of idea. I do a lot of work on the user interface of bestcourses, so I’ll typically try to sketch out my ideas in Figma (for design-related ideas) or Whimsical (for software-related ideas).
Once I’m happy with the initial sketches, I’ll talk things through with my co-founder Thomas and then jump right into the implementation.
What’s one trend that excites you?
As a developer, I love the new and exciting tools I work with every day and the new tools that are constantly being added. For example, I really enjoy using new tools like TailwindCSS, HeadlessUI and working with Typescript, which has become super popular in recent years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
For me, it’s constantly learning about new technologies and improving my technical skills. As a developer with a limited amount of professional experience, it’s essential for me to improve my skills, which directly results in better output.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Well, I am still pretty young (just turned 21 to be exact), but in hindsight, I would tell my 15-year-old self to get into programming and software development sooner. I started watching app development tutorials at that age, but I lost interest quickly as it got a bit more complicated.
As a computer science student, getting into coding earlier would have helped me out massively. But hey, I can’t change anything about it today, so it’s fine either way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Something that I really strongly believe in that a lot of people would probably disagree with, is that every company should operate completely sustainable and contribute to a better society. In my opinion, quite a lot of businesses shouldn’t even get started in the first place, as they don’t bring any real value to society. This is especially true for a lot of consumer products (more often than not in fashion), and a lot of web3 startups. As a rule of thumb: If the business spends more time marketing and selling the product than it does working on it, it’s probably a net loss to society.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I check our stats very often, whether that’s website visitors, Google Search Console insights or revenue numbers. It helps me understand how we’re doing and where we can improve. Maybe we need to create better content for better SEO, or improve our conversion rates?
These are things you can find out if you keep tracks of your stats.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We’re using programmatic SEO to grow our platform, which means we create lot of content and pages based on the data that we aggregate. This allows us to rank for long-tail keywords and to create a lot of content relatively fast.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
To be honest again, I’ve not had really big setbacks so far. Maybe one of the biggest ones was when one of the courses I created for my course business flopped. It wasn’t a huge loss, but I had still invested a lot of time and money into planning, filming, editing and publishing the course. I overcame it by focusing on other content/courses that we’re better received.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s not a specific idea, but the best opportunities to build a small, profitable business without huge venture funding seem to come by adding to an existing platform. For example, adding plugins on top of Shopify, WordPress, or social media platforms has been a great business model for many.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Probably the two tools that I use the most are Notion and Todoist. Notion is where I keep everything, from my favorite restaurants to a list of content ideas for bestcourses. I use it as my “second brain”, so to store all the information that I need to keep somewhere.
Todoist on the other hand is my to-do list application. It’s where I add and track my daily to-dos to stay on top of everything that needs to be done. I’ve been using it for years and I’m really happy with it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Factfulness is a book I read in recent years that was among the most impactful books I read. In the book, the author talks about how the world has changed for the better, even though it often seems like things are getting worse everyday. It’s a great reminder to believe in facts, and a glimpse of hope in challenging times, like we’re facing now.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have one to be honest.
- Be technology-first: As a computer science student, this is obviously easier to say, but I truly believe that virtually every company should make tech a top priority. The competitive advantage technology can give you is insane.
- Iterate fast: Especially as a team of two people, you have very limited resources, so it’s important to get things out there fast, so that future priorities can be derived from data and customer feedback.
- Team is key: Creating a great product is usually a team effort. Having a team of people that you have fun working with is key, even if it’s just a single person, like your co-founder or a freelancer.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.