From idea to startup: How Tristan and co-founder Benjamin turned their idea into a reality
After working as an advertising creative for 8 years in Australia, Tristan was on the search to turn his creative ideas into actual products and bring them to life! He joined Le Wagon’s full-time Web Development Bootcamp in Amsterdam and flash forward a few years later, Troopl is born!
Before joining Le Wagon in Amsterdam back in 2019, Tristan was working in the advertising industry. He was an advertising creative in Australia for about 8 years. First as a copywriter for agencies including Y&R and Ogilvy, then he was offered a Creative Director position at an audio specialist agency called Eardrum. Read on to discover more about Tristan's journey, from taking our full-time web development course to becoming co-founder of Troopl!
As an entrepreneur, what made you want to take Le Wagon's web development course?
There’s a lot that I love about working in advertising. You get to work with loads of amazing and talented people, and you get to spend nearly every day problem solving and writing fun, interesting campaigns for brands.
With this being said, after several years, I couldn’t shake the frustration that I couldn’t actually make any of my ideas. As an advertising creative, if you want an idea to actually exist in the world, there’s a huge line of people you’d need to get buy-in (or permission) from.
It goes a little something like this.
First, you’d need to convince your creative partner that the idea is worth considering. Then you need your creative director to approve the idea. Then, depending on how important the brief is to the agency, you need other agency departments like strategy, account service, and — in some cases — the head of the agency — to sign off on the idea.
Then, if the client liked the idea, a similar process would begin in their company, as they’d need to sell the idea to their managers before the budget would be approved to make the thing — often with several changes requested.
Now, I’m not saying all of my ideas were amazing, but what really appealed to me about learning to code was that I could finally, actually, make my ideas — without needing permission from anyone.
I couldn’t resist the allure of sitting down at a laptop and bringing my ideas to life.
How was your bootcamp experience?
I had an amazing experience learning to code with the rest of batch #259 (pictured below). Spending 9 weeks focusing solely on learning a useful new skill was extremely rewarding. Concepts that would seem extremely complicated would suddenly make sense a few days or weeks later. It’s a great feeling (and still is) once something finally clicks.
Except Regex… I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand Regex.
Can you tell us more about how Troopl was born?
I would love to! We’ve actually just pivoted our idea and launched the new version of Troopl.
My co-founder Benjamin Webster, who is another fellow Aussie, and I would constantly be throwing around ideas for businesses over coffee and beers (yep, we’re cliché Aussies). After a while, we kept coming back to the idea of building a job board where a community of professionals would refer the perfect candidate to companies.
We (incorrectly) figured, this would be a faster, cheaper, way to connect the right people with the right companies, as it would be based on actual personal working experience — not just whoever replied to a recruiter’s LinkedIn message.
We were getting some traction, but our main problem was that we weren’t solving a real problem for the key user (the one actually sharing the jobs). So even with an incentive, it was very difficult to encourage people to constantly look for jobs for people they know, no matter how much they wanted to help them.
So we went back to the drawing board and began speaking to our users to find a real problem — rather than an interesting idea. And it turned out that a HUGE problem was right under noses the whole time. An obstacle that I’d even experienced myself: landing your first job in tech.
So, we went back to the drawing board. After speaking to 70+ developers, a lot of which were Le Wagon students/alumni, we learned about all of the pain points and frustrations developers shared with current platforms and we began working on Troopl 2.0.
Can you tell us a bit more about Troopl?
Troopl is a platform for web developers to showcase work and be discovered by companies looking for the best emerging talent. Kind of like Behance for developers. Right now we’re 100% focused on helping new developers land their very first job in tech.
One of the key challenges we learned from speaking to developers was that it’s hard to know what projects to work on after graduating as you're no longer being guided on what to build.
With this being said, an important part of Troopl is the challenge library we’re building, which are sponsored by companies. By completing these challenges, developers can grow their portfolio and stand out to companies looking for their particular skill set.
What’s your next plan for the app?
We’ve only recently launched, but users are already signing up and adding projects to their portfolio, which feels great! Our initial plan is to learn from our users to make sure that what we’ve built is actually helping them land a job in tech faster. We’re under no illusion that we’ve nailed it the first time, so we want to get feedback, learn, and adjust our platform as necessary.
Users can of course join from anywhere in the world. But currently we’re focusing on Amsterdam. Once we’ve established ourselves here we plan to begin focusing on how we can help new developers from more cities — before focusing on helping developers from all skill levels.
How does it feel to be an entrepreneur?
It’s a lot different than the movies, that’s for sure! Both Ben and I are working full-time on Troopl right now, which is a little scary, but great motivation to give it our all!
It’s very satisfying to be able to move so quickly and implement our own ideas into our work. If you want to try something, you can just go ahead and do it.
Any advice for people who want to take Le Wagon's web development course?
The great thing about attending Le Wagon is that you learn everything you need to know to build a prototype of (almost) any web application in a really short amount of time. Of course, you’re not going to learn everything in 9 weeks, but the course gives you an incredible foundation to continue building on.
I’d dabbled with Python before attending Le Wagon and found it really difficult to know how much time to spend on a particular topic. Whereas by attending Le Wagon, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time, all the concepts neatly come together at the end to form a solid full-stack web developer skill set.
If you're looking to land a job in tech, check out www.troopl.com and build your very own portfolio for free! Troopl is here to help you save time so that you can focus on building interesting projects. Troopl also has the added bonus of helping you get discovered by companies searching for your skill set.
If you’d like any advice, or if you'd like to learn more about Tristan's journey and Troopl, you can get in touch with him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org