Student profile: Adrian Gomez

Name: Adrian Gomez
Location: San Salvador, El Salvador
Age: 24
Job title: Owner/founder of digital agency

Adrian Gomez has been an overachiever since early childhood. At an age when most kids are playing games, Adrian was already developing a love of business and technology. He began teaching himself about websites when he was 10 by finding information on Google, YouTube, and other online tutorials.

By age 13, Adrian had created his first website and was earning money from Google ads. By age 16, he’d launched his first commercial website, which was about video games and featured news and reviews. It became one of the most popular gaming sites in Central America and won the Arroba de Oro award in 2010, a very big deal in Adrian’s native El Salvador. PlayStation even sponsored the site, giving Adrian his first contact with the business world. Needless to say, this also made him one of the most popular kids in school.

He didn’t earn much money from the gaming site, Callejon de los Juegos (no longer online), but then again, he was still just a teenager. Each night after school, he thought about what else he could do with the site, such as adding community features, and used Google to teach himself how to do it. He considers building that site, not sitting in the classroom, to have been his real education.

Adrian left school at 19 and did a church mission in Panama. When he returned to El Salvador in 2013, he knew how to develop websites and he needed to make money, so what he’d do next seemed obvious. After doing some projects for friends and through word of mouth, he listed himself on a site for freelancers, and that’s when things really took off. Adrian started his own digital agency, Elaniin, which today has 11 employees.

Based on his early achievements, Adrian was invited to speak at a conference on entrepreneurship and another on user experience, where he met the marketing chief of El Salvador’s largest newspaper and ended up getting hired to build their official mobile app.

It was also around this time that he realized he wanted and needed to continue increasing his skill set and learn more about programming. Adrian had agreed to make the newspaper’s app, even though he hadn’t done it before and didn’t know how. He had no doubt he could teach himself whatever it took to get the job done. That’s when he went searching online for resources and found “the best course ever” on Udemy — “The Complete iOS8 and Swift Course” by instructor Rob Percival.

Applying his typical focus and self-discipline, Adrian spent two to three hours every night for the next couple of months learning how to create a mobile app and was able to deliver what the newspaper had ordered. His initial $49 investment in a Udemy course translated into a $16,000 payment from his client — and the newspaper app was top-rated in the App Store. He went on to build additional apps, charging clients from $1,500 to $20,000.

Based on that fantastic experience with Rob Percival’s course, Adrian wanted more. “I wrote a goal in my notebook: complete a course every three months and spend two hours every night. It’s discipline,” he says. It’s also a very deep love of learning that hadn’t been satisfied by other online education providers. “With online courses, you say it’s going to change your life, but you don’t finish and then you forget about it. I tell everyone Udemy is different. It really has changed my life; I’m earning money.”

Adrian also has his employees taking Udemy courses because “it’s the best way to learn a lot of things the correct way.” He gives high marks to Rob’s “Mobile App Design in Sketch 3” and “The Complete Android Developer Course.” He’s also enrolled in “The Complete Facebook Ads and Facebook Marketing Course 2016” and “Become a Heroku Rails Ninja,” among others.

He contrasts this with the universities in El Salvador, which he considers a waste of time, especially for learning technology, because the curriculum covers material “from 10 years ago.” Learning on Udemy imparts knowledge and skills much faster too. “At a university, you spend six months learning one programming language; on Udemy, that takes me a month. And you get to practice and do real things. You can choose your teacher, take courses on your own schedule, see your progress, and do exercises.”

Not surprisingly, Adrian has many other ideas and projects cooking in his mind all the time. For example, he’s developing an app to help businesses see all of their paid advertising activity in one place so they can make informed decisions and optimize performance. He plans to productize all these ideas and bring them to market. To make that possible, “Udemy is super-important to me.” Thanks to the money brought in with his new app-building skills, Adrian has the means to do things like traveling to New York City for the NextWeb conference, investing back in his business, and “being at the same level as the best developers in the world.”