Scott Lininger - Co-founder and CEO of Bitsbox

An increasing number of people are recognizing that coding is not simply an area of education for future programmers; it’s a subject that all children should learn in order to both broaden their knowledge and have some fun. We don’t expect our English classes to turn our children into Earnest Hemmingways and Jane Austens, so why should computer science be any different?

Scott Lininger is the co-founder and CEO of Bitsbox, an EdTech startup that teaches children how to code their own apps.

Where did the idea for Bitsbox come from?

While I was working at Google as a software engineer my daughter asked, “Can you teach me how to code?” It was a simple question that evoked a whirlwind of a response: I tinkered, tested, and toyed with different ideas as to how I can teach computer programming to my child. Little did I know that I would create what would ultimately be the prototype that is Bitsbox.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Our raison d’être is to enrich the lives of children, and every member of the Bitsbox team is committed to this central mission. This, above all else, is our greatest productivity motivator.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Kids know best what they like and what they abhor. Everything we work on is given to children to try out so we can see their reaction and further perfect our startup.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

An increasing number of people are recognizing that coding is not simply an area of education for future programmers; it’s a subject that all children should learn in order to both broaden their knowledge and have some fun. We don’t expect our English classes to turn our children into Earnest Hemmingways and Jane Austens, so why should computer science be any different?

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

We try really hard to actually take time off. We have an “unlimited vacation” policy at Bitsbox, and we hound each other to use it. When you’re recharged, you’re more productive.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I’ve never had a bad job. My lowest paying job was as a dishwasher. What a great gig. It was warm and simple and I always went home knowing I’d accomplished something.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

There’s a part of me that always wonders what life would be like had I co-founded Bitsbox even earlier. Maybe I would have achieved more personal satisfaction had I departed from the corporate world years before I ultimately left. But isn’t a career trajectory, by its very definition, more than just a series of milestones? Isn’t it the journey itself that makes life truly worthwhile? I certainly think so.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Write down your ideas. Even the dumb ones.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We knew that we needed a compelling product in order to attract the investment backing necessary to scale. Bitsbox’s focus on teaching kids how to actually code Javascript/HTML5 instead of using tangential instruction methods that teach related skills is truly unique, and we knew that investors would recognize that once they saw how quickly our user base would grow.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Early on we got invited to pitch in front of a group of investors, and it was awful. We gave them the pitch we give to parents, with way too little information about our business. Crickets.

We overcame it by learning from it and trying again. Next time we pitched to an investor, they told us it was one of the best pitches they’d seen.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

ManBunHat.com — manufacturers of fine, tiny hats for your manbun or the manbun of someone you love. (I will sell the domain to the highest bidder.)

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought lunch today for my team, which I do every day. It’s a fun perk and keeps us fueled.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

As a former Google employee I’m quite loyal to my Android phone and my Chrome Web browser. Some things, I suppose, never change.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Stephen Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From. It’s a great exploration of the kinds of environments that allow ideas to flow and grow.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

We went through the Boomtown Accelerator, and it was TREMENDOUS. If you’re a founder of an early stage company, go apply at boomtownboulder.com and see their list of mentors. We learned tons.

Connect:

Bitsbox on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bitsboxkids
Bitsbox on Twitter: @BitsboxKids