Compliance Firm Launches E-Learning Courses for SEC Compliance

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Compliance firm RQC Group has launched e-learning training courses to help users learn about SEC compliance, or the rules and regulations that the Securities and Exchange Commission makes and enforces.

These courses have been designed specifically to make learning about SEC compliance as straightforward and easy to understand as possible, with each course providing content that meets the training needs of individuals efficiently.

These online training courses are a breath of fresh air to the SEC compliance learning experience. Previously, individuals have had to take physical courses, or speak to professional consultancy practices in order to gain the knowledge and understanding necessary for SEC compliance.

RQC Group’s new online training helps to provide this important regulatory information in a way that’s easy to understand, and in a socially distanced way – especially useful in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.

The three SEC Compliance courses offered by the RQC Group include:

  • Induction Training for SEC Registered Investment Advisers
  • Refresher Training for SEC Registered Investment Advisers
  • Compliance Issues from SEC Examinations

All three of the courses are 60-minutes long and are designed to provide users with a sound knowledge of vital SEC compliance concepts.

What is SEC?

SEC, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is an independent regulatory agency of the U.S. federal government. The agency was created in 1934 by Congress, being the first of its kind as a federal regulator to the securities markets.

The SEC aims to protect investors from immoral market practices, including those that are fraudulent and manipulative. It also monitors corporate takeover actions within the U.S. and approves bookrunners registration statements.

The SEC’s mission is “to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.”

An understanding of SEC, and further SEC compliance, is essential if you work in the U.S. in financial services, including offering advice for investments and hedge funds.

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RQC Group’s online courses

RQC Group’s SEC Compliance online courses are incredibly useful for individuals looking to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s essential concepts. However, they are not the only e-learning courses the compliance firm offers. RQC also offers specialist, interactive training courses relating to FCA, SEC and CFTC/NFA compliance.

Below is a list of the online courses the firm offers:

U.K. Courses

  • SMCR
  • Compliance
  • Financial crime
  • Cybersecurity (coming soon)

U.S. Courses

  • SEC compliance
  • NFA compliance (coming soon)
  • Cybersecurity (coming soon)

The consultancy firm has extensive expertise covering both the U.K. and the U.S. markets, with all online training courses written by senior compliance consultants.

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The post Compliance Firm Launches E-Learning Courses for SEC Compliance appeared first on StartupNation.


Best Business Courses

It used to be that if you wanted to get a good business education, you had to learn it on your own or spring the time and money on an expensive MBA.

Luckily, that’s a thing of the past.

In fact, some of the best business courses out there are online and highly affordable. That means you’ll be able to get a world-class business education from the comfort of your own home on your own time.

There are TONS of them out there too. That can be a good and bad thing. Good because you’ll have a wide variety of different courses and instructors to choose from. Bad because, well, there’s simply too many of them. That can make it hard to decide on which course to go with.

That’s why we’ve done the research leg work for you.

Below are the best business courses out there. We’ve extensively reviewed dozens and dozens of courses, and have narrowed it down to these very best ones.

The 5 Best Business Courses

Keep reading below for our full reviews of each business course.

#1. Earnable – Best for Creating an Info-Products Business

• Great for online business
• Develop top selling info products
• Premium course
• Access to great community
Enroll today!

Full disclosure: I have worked with Ramit before in the past.

While I won’t be sharing any insider knowledge with you, I can say that his Earnable product is one of the best courses out there when it comes to creating a business around selling info-products.

What’s an info-product? It’s a digital product that is focused on teaching or informing your customers. Think online courses, e-books, Internet communities, and more.

Earnable walks you through each step of the process when it comes to creating an online business. From coming up with a million dollar business idea, to creating your site, to coming up with your first product, this course shows you it all.

Ramit draws on more than a decade of experience blogging, selling, and building his business online to help. All of his methods are tested, proven, and have helped thousands of people get their online businesses started as well.

The downside? The course itself is pretty pricey. Though it’s obscured on his website, it’s likely around $ 2000-$ 3000 to enroll.

Of course, this is a premium product that gives you instant access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and guided step-by-step instruction on how to create a business. Plus if you consider the ROI of a successful business, it could be worth it.

#2. Seth Godin’s Freelancer Course – Best for Creating a Freelance Business

• Best for freelancing
• Taught by Seth Godin
• Learn to build your freelance business
• 4+ hours with 14 downloadable assets
Enroll today!

Freelancing is one of the best ways to earn extra money on the side. It’s also a great way to build a business while you work for someone else.

And when it comes to a good online freelance business course, look no further than Seth Godin. He’s an author, entrepreneur, and the instructor for a fantastic course all on freelancing.

In it you’ll learn:

  • How to build a stellar freelance reputation
  • Tactics to find and choose good clients
  • Strategies to create a personal brand
  • Methods of increasing demand for your services

This course isn’t just for beginners either. Even if you’re an experienced freelancer, you’ll be able to use the lessons Godin teaches you to separate your offerings from the pack—and earn more money doing it.

The course includes more than four hours of video instructions by Godin himself. You’ll also have 14 downloadable assets to help you learn even more.

Interested? You can purchase the course on Udemy for a one time payment of $ 199.99. That’s actually quite the bargain compared to some other business courses out there, and you’ll learn straight from a professional while doing it.

#3. Master Your People Skills – Best for Developing Interpersonal Relationships

• Be more persuasive
• Build better relationships
• Effortlessly network
• 30 lessons and 22+ hours of content
Enroll today!

One of the most important assets of any entrepreneur or employee is the ability to connect with others. Not only is it good for business, but it can also help you in other facets of your personal and love life as well.

That’s why we can’t recommend Master Your People Kills enough.

Taught by Vanessa Van Edwards, a lead investigator at the Science of People and bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, this course shows you how you can effectively communicate ideas and build relationships.

Over the course of 30 lessons (45-60 minutes each), Van Edwards teaches you how to:

  • Leave a winning first impression
  • Attract more clients and customers
  • Become more persuasive and influential
  • Boost your confidence in any social situation

And more!

In all this course is 22 hours and 55 minutes long. That’s nearly 23 full hours of content including bonus lessons and actionable takeaways to help you develop great people skills.

The price is a one time fee of $ 104. That’s a massive bargain for the skills you’ll walk away with after this course.

#4. Financial Accounting Made Fun: Eliminating Your Fears – Best Business Accounting Course

• Learn the basics of business finances
• Manage income statements, balance sheets, and more
• Track and improve key metrics
• 4 weeks of classes
Enroll today!

Your finances are the bedrock of your business. If they aren’t in order, expect to lose money and potentially face legal trouble down the line.

To help solve that, you’ll want a course that’ll teach you the basics on how to manage your business’s finances in plain and simple language. That’s where Babson’s Financial Accounting Made Fun course comes in.

This is the course for any entrepreneur or business owner scared by numbers. It’ll help you make sense of your financial statements and identify the key metrics you need to track in order to grow your business and profits.

It’ll introduce you to concepts such as:

  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statements
  • Financial balancing
  • Growth drivers

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to craft a financial forecast of your business that’ll win over any potential stakeholder and investor.

The course itself is four weeks long. Each week, expect to spend 4-6 hours on the course work. You’ll be taught by Peter Wilson, a professor of accounting and law at Babson College.

Pricing-wise, the course costs $ 199. After you finish, you’ll receive a signed certificate to show your achievements and knowledge.

#5. Hubspot Academy – Best Digital Marketing Courses

• Great for digital marketing
• Earn certifications for LinkedIn
• Beginner friendly
• Courses are FREE
Enroll today!

A cornerstone of any good business is its marketing. After all, if people don’t know about your business, you won’t get any business.

That’s why you want to learn a thing or two about marketing. Luckily, the days of costly advertisements on television, billboards, and print media are gone. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can get started with digital marketing

That’s where Hubspot Academy comes in.

The company is most known for their marketing automation solutions. However, they also offer a stellar line of courses dedicated to:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Service
  • Web design
  • Web development
  • Data privacy

Some of the courses also come with certifications as well that you can put on your personal
website and LinkedIn page.

While they offer courses across a number of categories, its their digital marketing certifications that really shine. Even if you’re a completely newbie to the subject, their expert team of instructor and digital marketing pros walk you through the basics of it all.

From inbound, content, email, and social media marketing, Hubspot is likely to have the course you need to learn about marketing online.

I personally really like their inbound and content marketing certifications. They’re excellent and comprehensive courses that consistently test you on your knowledge to make sure you know the information taught.

The best part? Hubspot Academy is FREE. Try any of their courses and certifications today and level up your marketing game.

How to Choose the Best Business Course

Wondering about which one you should choose? Or maybe you want to know how we went about choosing the courses to include on this list?

Choosing a course is a difficult process on its face. But really, its simple if you consider a few elements:


Namely, what do you want to learn from a business course? Your answer is likely going to be different from another person.

After all the beginner entrepreneur starting from scratch is going to have much different goals than the mid-career specialist looking to widen his skill set.

So ask yourself: What am I looking to learn? What are my goals and objectives with my career in business?

This will ultimately be the deciding factor of the course you go with. However, if you really want a well-rounded business learning experience, I recommend taking as many courses as you can (depending on your budget of course).

Instructor qualifications

Who is teaching your course is just as important as the subject matter and price point.

In fact, it’s arguably the most important thing.

When looking at these online business courses, you’ll want to see who will be teaching you. What is their background? What are their qualifications? What have they built and accomplished that makes them the subject matter expert on this topic?

It’s also a good idea to do some research on the instructor. Hit Google up and see if there are any reviews about what it’s like to learn under the person.

Trust me: If someone has a bad experience after springing $ 200-$ 2000 on a course, they’re going to let the Internet know about it.

Student testimonials

Related to the instructor qualifications are the testimonials. You want to make sure that students who have taken the course before enjoyed the product and review it warmly.

Of course, the testimonials you find on a course’s website are only worth so much. That’s why you’ll want to see if there are any third-party testimonials out there that can vouch for the course.

Some good places you can look for raw, brutally honest reviews are Reddit and YouTube. Just search the course name or the instructor’s name plus “review.” You’ll likely be furnished with tons of different in-depth reviews on the courses.

Of course, experience is going to vary from student to student. However, I find that the most enlightening information you can get about a course typically comes from these sources.

Bonus: Community

This one isn’t necessary for a good online business course, but it is very nice to have. Check to see if the course comes with access to a community of like-minded students.

Why? A few reasons:

First, a community helps motivate you and keep you on track for your goals. It’s easier to let lessons and homework fall by the wayside if no one is checking in on you. Having others there to help you along is incredibly beneficial psychologically.

A good online community also fosters long-term relationships. These are networking opportunities that might open doors to more business in the future. Even when your course is done, you’ll likely find yourself turning to that community later when you’re in need of help—or when you want to help others out as well.

Like I said though, this isn’t absolutely necessary. However, if a course has a solid community of other students, then you can probably bet it’s a good one.


Here’s our list of the five best business courses again:

Choosing the right online course depends on your goals. However, if you can afford it, I highly suggest you take as many as possible. After all, knowledge is power.

Now stop reading and get started learning.

Quick Sprout

Best Online Writing Courses

Looking to unleash your inner Hemingway?

Maybe you have an idea for the next Harry Potter and want to get it out?

Or maybe you just want to pick up a new skill that can help you earn money on the side?

No matter the reason, an online writing course might be just the thing to help you.

These are writing courses that you can take from the comfort of your own couch. That means no sitting in a stuffy classroom, or paying exorbitant fees for college tuition.

There are TONS of different writing courses out there though. They cover the gamut of genres, formats, and approaches. How are you going to choose the one that’s right for you?

Luckily, I’m here to help.

Over the course of my career as a professional writer, I’ve taken dozens of online writing courses and sat in on more writing workshops and seminars than I can count. I can safely say that there are a lot of bad writing courses out there. But, there are plenty that stand out too.

Below are my reviews and recommendations for the ones that stand out.

• 5-week digital writing course
• One of the best courses out there
• 7 modules
• Great community
Try it today!

Choosing an online writing course

Before we dive into the best courses, you should know why you want to sign up for one.

After all, this is going to be an investment of your time and–depending on which course you choose–money as well. You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the course you go with.

To that end, the most important thing you should decide on first is your goals. Why exactly are you looking for a writing course?

Do you want to write a fiction best seller?

Do you want to learn the basics of copywriting for your career?

Are you looking to create the next Oscar winning screenplay?

Whatever your decision, it’s important to know your goals before you choose. Writing is a HUGe topic. It covers a range of things from screenwriting, to novel writing, to journalism, to content marketing.

Come up with your goals first. Once you do, keep reading to find the writing course that helps you achieve those goals.

The 5 Best Online Writing Courses of 2020

Below are our recommendations for the best online writing courses of 2020:

  1. Write of Passage – The Best Online Writing Course for Audience Building and Networking
  2. Copyschool – The Best Online Copywriting Course
  3. The 90 Day Novel – The Best Online Writing Course for Writing Novels
  4. Masterclass – The Best Online Writing Course(s) Taught By Pros
  5. Gotham Writers Workshop – The Best Online Writing Course Community

Keep reading for our in-depth review of each course.

#1. Write of Passage – The Best Online Writing Course for Audience Building and Networking

• 5-week digital writing course
• One of the best courses out there
• 7 modules
• Great community
Try it today!

David Perell is a writer, entrepreneur, and the host of the North Star podcast. He’s also the founder of one of the most lauded online writing courses out there.

Write of Passage is a five-week online writing course that’s helped hundreds of students across the world learn how to build an audience and write online.

It’s split up into seven different modules—each one focusing on a different topic:

  • Module 1: The Age of Leverage covers how writing online helps your career as well as introduces you to the course.
  • Module 2: Make Your Serendipity Vehicle covers how to build a habit of coming up with writing ideas.
  • Module 3: Create Your Online Home covers building a website that attracts an audience.
  • Module 4: Set Up Your Distribution System covers building a newsletter and other methods of distributing your writing
  • Module 5: Learn to Write Clearly and Persuasively covers the nuts and bolts of good writing itself.
  • Module 6: Connect with Anyone teaches you how to use your writing effectively network and connect with people.
  • Module 7: Build Your Personal Monopoly shows you how to use your knowledge and skills to stand out from the rest of the competition.

Overall, this is a perfect choice if you’re a professional looking to make stronger connections in your industry, or if you’re looking for new opportunities through your writing.

Each cohort also gets access to templates, writing assignments, writing templates, and feedback with other members of your cohort.

One downside: The pricing is expensive.

The Essentials Course which includes the the 7 modules, writing workshops, live sessions, and the student-only forum is $ 4,000. While the Premium Course which includes more tutorials and live interviews is $ 6,000.

However, based on everything I’ve heard about Write of Passage, the price is well worth it.

#2. Copyschool – The Best Online Copywriting Course

• Best for copywriting
• Learn about sales pages, social media ads, and more
• Instant access to 7 courses
• One-time payment of $ 2,997
Try it today!

Founded by copywriter extraordinaire Joanna Wiebe in 2011, Copyhackers offers a massive repository of copywriting resources.

They’ll help you learn the basics of copywriting and improve your marketing efforts for any goal you’re looking to crush.

On top of their free resources, they also include the Copy School. This gives you instant access to all of their writing courses:

  • 10x Sales Pages
  • 10x Web Copy
  • 10x Funnels
  • 10x Emails
  • 10x Launches
  • 10x Landing Pages
  • 10x Facebook & Instagram Ads

Each of those courses individually cost $ 1,000 – $ 2,000. All told it’s $ 9,000.

But Copy School allows you to get it for a one-time payment of $ 2,997. You can also $ 297 per month for 12 months, but you save $ 567 by paying it all at once.

Alternatively, you can purchase Copy School for a team of three. In which case it’ll cost you 12 monthly payments of $ 697. There are one-time payments available though the price is obscured on the site.

Copy School will help you improve your copywriting skills across all those topics. Each course includes the modules and actionable insights you need to elevate your writing to the next level. Most are hosted and taught by Joanna Wiebe, but a few include some other great marketing pros such as Wahida Lakhani and Ry Schwartz.

Overall, it’s a perfect choice for any copywriter looking to boost their skills.

#3. The 90 Day Novel – The Best Online Writing Course for Novels

• Best for writing novels
• 100+ actionable lessons
• Learn to plot, outline, and create characters
• Prices start at $ 269/month for 3 months
Try it today!

Looking to finally write and/or finish that Great American Novel you’ve been working on? The 90 Day Novel helps you cross the finish line with a book you can be proud of at the end of three months.

Brought to you by Novelry, an online writing school, the 90 Day Novel helps you write and finish your novel through more than 100 actionable lessons. They’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to finish your book as well as online mentorship sessions with a tutor.

That means you’ll get an experienced writer showing you the ropes and helping you get your writing off the ground. All the tutors are published authors who you can choose based on your needs and wants.

From plotting, to outlining, to genres, to actually sitting down and putting words to paper, this online writing course shows you everything you need to know about creating a novel. The best part is that it’s great for whether you’re a complete beginner or if you have had writing experience before.

The course itself is split up into six phases, with each phase lasting anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks:

  • Week 1: Inspiration and Preparation. Students learn the importance of writing habits and how to come up with a novel idea.
  • Week 2-3: Construction. You learn the importance of building characters and plot to find the emotional core of your store.
  • Weeks 4-6: The Swim. Having established your writing habit, you now break down the craft of writing.
  • Week 7: The Heat Phase. You learn how to raise the stakes of your story as well as pushing past mental roadblocks.
  • Weeks 8-10: Enlightenment. The course breaks down a successful novel and shows you how and why it works.
  • Weeks 11-12: Home. You wrap up your novel and learn how to push through to finish it once and for all.

Pricing is not too bad either. The way it works is you pay a certain amount depending on which tier you choose over the course of three months. The difference between each tier comes down to how much tutoring and live coaching sessions you’d like. The more live tutoring, the more you’ll have to pay, with the Intensive Plus plan including feedback on your novel as well.

#4. Masterclass – The Best Online Writing Course(s) to Learn from Pros

• Taught by big name writers
• Instructors include Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, and more
• Access to all Masterclasses
• Costs just $ 15/month
Try it today!

Ever wonder how Dan Brown seems to magically get you to keep turning the pages of his thrillers?

Or how Margaret Atwood develops rich and compelling characters?

Or maybe how David Sedaris crafts such witty and poignant essays?

Masterclass has your back.

The online compendium of literally any lesson you could possibly want from guitar lessons from Carlos Santana, to tennis lessons with Serena Williams, also offers writing classes from your very favorite authors including:

  • Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
  • James Patterson Teaches Writing
  • David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor
  • Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry
  • David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
  • Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
  • Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
  • Joyce Carol Oates Teaches the Art of the Short Story
  • David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
  • Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
  • Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
  • R.L. Stine Teaches Writing for Young Audiences
  • Judy Blume Teaches Writing

And there are more big names being added regularly.

The classes themselves are broken up into a multi-video lesson plan and lasts anywhere between 3-5 hours. Along with the videos taught by the writers themselves, you’ll also get access to a community of students also taking the course, as well as homework assignments. Some of the teachers have been known to pop in the student forums to take part in their learning as well!

Pricing wise, Masterclass is unique. For one they bill you annually at $ 15 / month for a total of $ 180. Once you subscribe, you not only get access to every writing course, but you also are able to take part in Masterclass’s entire catalog of courses. For the money you pay, it’s an incredible deal especially when compared to some other online writing courses out there.

Of course, there are some downsides. If you’re looking for a personalized experience, you’re not going to get much of that. After all, your teachers are big name professionals who can’t be at your beck and call for every question. Also, some of the lessons can lack the actionable steps you’re looking for if you want to improve your writing.

However, it’s a solid choice if you ever wondered about the process behind some of your favorite stories and storytellers.

#5. Gotham Writers Workshops – Best Online Writing Course Community

• Legendary writers workshop in NYC
• Online writing classes and Zoom workshops
• Guided instruction
• Fantastic community of writers!
Try it today!

Since 1993, the Gotham Writers Workshop has helped untold amounts of writers hone their craft and become the best writers they can be.

Though they’re based out of New York City, you don’t have to be in the Big Apple to take part. In fact, they offer two types of online writing courses that you can take anywhere with an Internet connection:

  • Online Writing Classes. These are 10 week workshops that allow you to learn at your own pace. That means anytime and anywhere.
  • Zoom Classes. These are more involved classes where you meet with a cohort of writers and instructors to replicate an in-person writing workshop. As such, you must meet at a specified time.

The Gotham Writers Workshop is a NYC institution and not enough can be said about what they have done for the writing community as whole. If you’re looking to improve your fiction, essay, screenwriting, poetry, or playwriting chops, this is the place for you.

Pricing varies depending on what you’re looking for but a typical Fiction Writing course is going to cost $ 409.

What to look for in an online writing course

While the course you ultimately choose is up to you and your goals, there are a few things that separate the good courses from the bad ones.

Here are the criteria we used when deciding which courses we should include on this list.

Accomplished instructors

There’s an old saying: Those who can’t do, teach.

When it comes to online writing courses, the saying should go: Those who can do, teach. That’s why we looked towards the background and credentials of the instructors who are teaching these online writing courses.

If your instructor isn’t published or experienced in the writing topic they’re setting out to teach you, I highly suggest you look elsewhere. After all, if they couldn’t get published or craft good stories themselves, why would they be able to show you how?

When looking at online writing courses, investigate your instructors background. Where have they been published? What is their experience like outside of the classroom?

Amount of lessons

Though quality beats quantity most of the time, this is an area you want to make sure you’re getting a lot of reps in.

You can’t teach someone how to write great stories or copy in a single lesson. You can’t do that in a few lessons. That’s why when you’re taking a look at which writing courses to take, you should also consider the amount of time you’ll actually spend learning.

If it’s just a one-day workshop, you’ll actually might get more value by turning elsewhere that offers comprehensive multi-week long courses. That way you know you’ll at least be able to keep a habit of writing and learning, rather than making it a one off thing.


Perhaps the best way to improve as a writer is to get consistent and constructive feedback. After all, you never know what’s working and what isn’t working.

Try to find an online course that offers good feedback and critiques on your writing. This can come in a number of different forms. Perhaps the best way is when an experienced writer and instructor can give you personalized feedback. A few courses above offer that–however, most don’t.

Instead, they rely on community feedback from your peers in the class. This can be especially helpful as other students can keep you motivated and in check when it comes to your writing habits. Also it’s known that teaching someone how to do something is a great way to learn yourself. That means when you read and critique work, it inadvertently improves your own writing as well.

• 5-week digital writing course
• One of the best courses out there
• 7 modules
• Great community
Try it today!


Looking for the best online writing course? Choose any of the ones above based on your goals and you’re sure to learn a thing or two about writing.

Just remember: The important thing to get better at writing is doing it…a lot. So just get started and we’ll see you on the NYT bestseller list.

Quick Sprout

Entrepreneurial / How to startup courses


What are some of the best compiled courses/resources online to get complete knowledge on how to start a company or on entrepreneurship development. I have an idea for a product and know how I would want to execute it, but I desperately feel the need to learn the process so that I can implement my decisions and execute them in the most efficient manner without making glaring mistakes. Would love it if someone could share some course Playlist or anything of the sort – a guide to startups.

Thanks a million!

P.S : Does anyone have any kind of checklist or things to do for a startup right from idea to fully fledged business?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Looking to start a new project in hardware. Any industrial design fundamental courses that you can recommend?

So my previous venture was software based. I didn't know anything about coding when starring, but I self taught myself the basics. Of course I didn't carry out create the whole project on my own, I hired a developer to do most of the work, but I was able to understand the developer and comunícate very effectively with him, suggest ideas and solutions and by the end contribute to the codebase itself. I would say this knowledge was key in the success we had.

Now, I have a hardware idea I would like to implement but I am in a similar position. I know nothing about hardware engineering or industrial design. Can anyone recommend some free courses/resources where I can build up a some solid fundamental understanding of hardware building.

Thanks in advance!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Sequoia Capital has internal crash courses for its founders — here’s how they work

No matter what you think of Sequoia Capital, the firm doesn’t rest on its laurels. Though it’s now managing ungodly amounts of money and has for decades been considered among the top venture firms in the world, it routinely finds new ways to stay relevant and to ensure that it gets a first look at the most promising founders.

It was the first firm to employee scouts, for example. Recently, to create more room between itself and its ever-growing number of competitors, the firm has also begun fine-tuning a curriculum for the founders of both the pre-seed and seed-stage startups it has funded, as well as its Series A- and B-stage founders.

According to Roelof Botha — the U.S. head of the venture firm since 2017 — and Jess Lee, a partner at Sequoia for nearly four years, the idea is to arm the individuals it backs with Sequoia’s vast “tribal knowledge” so they can not only compete with their rivals but, hopefully, outperform them. “We were already delivering this on an on-demand basis,” says Botha, “so we figured why not [institutionalize it]?”

How do they work? Much as you might imagine. The pre-seed and seed-stage program is shorter but more intensive than the later-stage program — think three weeks of between three to six hours of programming a day, versus up to 10 weeks of more occasional programming for founders whose companies are more mature and who maybe can’t drop in for quite as much hands-on education. The content differs meaningfully, too. The seed-stage modules are really about creating a foundation that can stand the test of time, whereas the later-stage sessions center more around metrics, building out a sales organization, and so forth.

Both programs entirely opt-in, and so far, over the last three years, 100 founders have participated, with another 20 engaged in a seed-stage program that kicked off virtually last week. Both are highly interactive and involve enough workshopping that founders are “walking out with deliverables,” says Lee. “Everyone does show-and-tell demos. You see sausage making that you wouldn’t typically get to see.”

Lee happens to lead programming around storytelling with Sequoia’s in-house design partner, James Buckhouse. (They presented one small part of that module at our recent Extra Crunch event, which you can watch below.) But many of the firm’s partners are involved in the program.

Longtime partner Alfred Lee, who was formerly the COO and chairman of Zappos, teaches a module on culture, for example. Partner Bryan Schreier, long ago a senior director at Google, talks with founders about category creation and how to sell their products. Carl Eschenbach, the former president and COO of VMWare (who, notably, persuaded Sequoia to invest nearly $ 100 million in Zoom in early 2017), separately coaches founders on their go-to-market strategies.

As a result, founders are exposed to many of the firm’s partners beyond the one who may have a seat on their board. They’re also exposed to founders like Julia Hartz and Tony Xu who’ve been backed by Sequoia over time and who drop in to help mentor their peers. Combined, the two prongs go a long way toward fostering community, says Lee.

In fact, “Community is really the core element” of the programs, she says, adding that each “cohort really bonds with each other” and that more than one set of founders has gone on to rent office space with fellow Sequoia-backed founders, as well as become close friends.

Of course, the programming — first launched in 2018 —  was happening in-person until earlier this year. Now and for the foreseeable future, it will be happening online, suggests Botha, who says he “emcees the entire Series A stage program,” while Lee plays master of ceremonies to its earlier-stage founders.

They insist that transition to a virtual setting isn’t slowing anyone down and that on the contrary, it has enabled the growing number of Sequoia-backed founders elsewhere in the world to participate. (According to Lee, some actually used to fly in to join these sessions.)

In fact, a bigger change that Botha can foresee right now is layering in more education around “how to deal with a culture with a remote workforce.”

As he says, in a future where people may be working in smaller hubs, taking turns at the office, or working remotely entirely, “it will be interesting to see what it means for young founders who are first-time managers and who have to manage a distributing team.”

It will most certainly be “more taxing on [their] people skills,” he notes.

Startups – TechCrunch