John Anthony Radosta
Location: Ft. Lauderdale
John Anthony Radosta’s story starts out like many others. He went to college because that’s what was expected of him, but he really had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He graduated in 2009, just as the economy took a turn for the worse. As if that weren’t bad enough, he felt like college left him with lots of abstract concepts and words but few hard skills, despite the college degree and student loans he’s still paying off today.
For two years, John struggled to find work in a tough economy. He ended up in sales for a large restaurant reservation company and was a top performer there for a number years. Seeking to further his career, he changed employers but found himself in a “churn and burn” culture. Subsequent employers went out of business, leaving John to work as a bartender with a bachelor’s degree. Clearly, this was not a promising path for a young, hungry college grad. Fortunately, through a bit of serendipity along with John’s own hard work and determination, the once-uncertain business administration major discovered his inner entrepreneur.
John heard about a brand new sport called bubble soccer, already popular overseas, and saw huge potential for introducing it to the U.S. Fast forward to today, bubble soccer has taken the country by storm, thanks to John’s leadership and persistence. He’s now the league commissioner of the National Association of Bubble Soccer (NABS), with 44 franchises in cities across North America. To run NABS, John incorporated Advanced Sports Technology, a sporting goods and technology company specializing in niche product concept development. This new enterprise also gave him a platform for developing the Aqua Arm, an innovative hands-free hydration system designed for runners and other fitness fans.
As he was building his enterprise, however, John knew he really needed those skills he wished someone had taught him in college. “I took so many marketing classes, but I never heard anyone say anything about SEO or buying keywords — specifically, how do we take these concepts and put them into action,” he says. A curious experimenter, he’d also developed a keen interest in electrical engineering and wanted to better understand Arduino, the open-source prototyping platform. It was yet another thing he wanted to learn, but who was going to teach him?
He certainly wasn’t going back to school full-time, considering how unsatisfying and expensive his undergrad experience had been in preparing him. And he couldn’t put his career plans on hold just to get another degree that might look good on paper but wouldn’t have real substance in its application.
He tried MOOCs but found their rigid structure and schedule to be impractical for someone already working 15-hour days. “My business always had to take priority, so I just couldn’t do the assignments on time and missed out on the benefits of the course. It ended up just being a waste of money,” John explains.
John discovered Udemy simply by doing a search for Arduino and was thrilled to see 157 relevant lectures from Australian instructor Peter Dalmaris. He dove right in and now says that what he learned from Peter “would’ve taken five semesters of electrical engineering.” With courses at his undergraduate university going for at least $1,800 apiece, Udemy was certainly a better financial value, but John found much more to love about the Udemy experience. He raves about learning from Peter, someone on the other side of the world he never would’ve met otherwise, and sees tremendous advantage in taking courses developed by experts who are on the cutting edge of the latest technology, instead of “a professor who’s been teaching the same thing the same way for years.”
For a busy entrepreneur like John, it’s a godsend to be able to learn at his own pace and on his own schedule. He can jump around to whatever lecture covers the skills he needs to learn at that moment without having to watch required content. “Udemy is what I’d call functional education; I’ll ask ‘how do I do X?’ and there’s a course to answer it.” John estimates he logs into Udemy every other night and has purchased multiple courses. Because Udemy offers the flexibility of taking the courses whenever and wherever is most convenient, he can stick to his current focus area without getting penalized or “failing.”
Udemy’s marketplace model and skills-based courses are exactly what John was looking for to supplement his skills as a thriving entrepreneur. Rather than the general concepts offered by academia, Udemy “gives people like me a crack at learning things I might not have been interested in during college or didn’t know I’d need later.” And he sees it as the best choice for other recent grads wondering where to go next. “What I realized is it doesn’t matter what degree you have; it matters what skills you have and what you’re actually capable of getting done,” John says. “Our culture expects you to make these life decisions at age 18; it’s just unrealistic sometimes given the maturity level at that age.” He likens Udemy to being able to create his own customized degree program that’s always being updated.
John’s Udemy queue currently includes courses on C++, KiCad, printed circuit board design and more. He plans to continue tapping into the marketplace’s expertise as he grows more NABS franchises and works on the next version the Aqua Arm. He’s imagining the possibilities for incorporating wearable technology into his product line and feels good knowing exactly where he can go to learn more about that.