Finding Inspiration and Passing It On

Manuj Aggarwal of Vancouver first found Udemy as a student when, for his work as a software consultant, he needed to familiarize himself with JavaScript. He liked the course he took so much, he explored the rest of Udemy’s collection and kept going. Then he got his colleagues on board with Udemy, to the point that it became “a company-wide thing” and his employer helped fund course purchases.

“I was like a kid in a candy store—there was so much to learn!” Manuj recalls. And then the moment came when he started toying with the idea of creating his own course. Little did he know how far his Udemy experiment would go.

Manuj’s first course, “Jenkins: Continuous Integration & DevOps with Java and .NET,” took him three months to complete. He didn’t have any specific goals or expectations except to prove to himself that he could do it and, hopefully, help some other people learn. “I like to do good work in my professional life that’s scalable and maintainable,” Manuj says. “And whatever I’ve learned over the course of my two decades as a professional, I want to share it so maybe someone, somewhere, who’s struggling can find a solution.”

He wasn’t thinking about financial rewards either when he made his initial course and “didn’t understand how much potential it had.” Like many first-time instructors, Manuj’s attitude was “I’ll put it out there and see what happens.”

And a lot has happened since then.

Don’t reinvent the wheel; follow examples of success
Manuj’s next course also took three months, so he spent time afterwards coming up with ways to “optimize the process of course creation” by breaking it down into discrete steps (scripting, editing, recording, etc.).

He also took more Udemy courses to see what other successful instructors did that he could emulate. Two things jumped out: they had published many more courses and they had personal websites they used for promotion. So Manuj launched two sites—TetraNoodle for his software consulting and TetraTutorials for his online teaching—and discovered how the two sides reinforce each other.

“My online courses are huge social proof for new clients,” Manuj explains. By teaching IT topics like cloud computing, devops, AWS, and others, he signals to potential clients that he’s a credible expert in the software space. On the flip side, he’s often approached by Udemy students who need his help with their projects.

And then came Udemy LIVE 2017.

“I have a tech background so I’m a marketing novice,” Manuj says. Attending Udemy LIVE sessions in San Francisco and hanging out in person with fellow instructors for a weekend gave him the encouragement and motivation to take his efforts to another level. Having this forum to connect with people more closely and listen to their advice, he felt reassured that whatever challenges he was facing, others had been there too.

A weekend in San Francisco goes global
Udemy LIVE also sparked a big idea for Manuj in the form of a question about his courses: “Who will need this information?” The answer inspired him to approach people on Facebook and LinkedIn, including university students who’d be graduating soon as well as professors, advisors, and student representatives, and he offered them free access to his IT courses. Manuj has published 17 courses on Udemy, with nearly 26,000 students, at the time of this writing.

“I know that universities, although they have good intentions, have long content development lifecycles and internal politics to work through,” Manuj says. “They’re years behind teaching the latest technologies and don’t have the capacity to keep up, but Udemy can fill that gap.”Just a month later, Manuj had already connected with Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and helped a dozen students in their final year learn cloud computing and devops so they’ll be ready to work upon graduation. He’s continuing with this grassroots marketing campaign with the hope of expanding his network to more universities, perhaps in his home country of India.Of course, by having a positive impact on students’ lives across the world, Manuj’s life has been touched too. He now sees teaching as his calling and says, “I always thought of myself as a technology enabler for my clients, and Udemy has become an extension of that. I’m educating others to do similar things.”

As for his ultimate goal, “I’d like to physically go around and meet these students in different countries. Maybe I can do that in one or two years.”  

“Thinking back on my university days,” Manuj continues, “accessing information was so much harder, and I was always looking for mentors and experienced people. Now, I’m able to share with someone across world and make difference in their lives. It’s so amazing!”