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From zero to one to…Back to Zero
The years 2020 and 2021 must be one of the most unusual times for most of us. The pandemic changed our lives in ways we could not even imagine. When hell broke loose it was a strange time in my life, I had just started to settle on a new calmer lifestyle outside of the big city in which I lived since I was born and all of a sudden, that was gone. I went straight into panic mode, not just because of the fear of the virus but also because I did not know what to do with my life in this new reality so I went back to do what a non functional adult would do: doing the things I wanted to do as a kid.
I went back to thinking about being creative again and what that implied. It meant that I had to go back to square one and try to start learning stuff that I had postponed because I felt it was too much of a hassle for me. I have always been a computer’s guy. I can clearly remember using my dad’s first laptop when I was six years old, a beautiful IBM Thinkpad (yeah, when Lenovo made those) which made me totally addicted to computers. But I was never a numbers guy, I hated math all the way throughout my childhood and that made me think that coding was not for me. I became more of an art guy, something of a digital artist if I may call myself one. I am what you would call a jack of all trades (or a master of none) in creating visual content on computers. But I have always felt intrigued about how stuff was made, particularly the stuff that I love, like video games.
In 2020 just when I did not know what to do I came to the realization that I had a due with myself and had to get back to learning how to code. I tried countless times to get the hang of coding throughout my teen years but I always ended up feeling that was not for me. The bleakness of the pandemic times pushed me to try another time because I felt I had nothing to lose, it really felt that it was going to be a long way to getting back to normal. After months of studying I finally felt I made a small breakthrough and started to feel I got the hang of coding even if I still felt like a noob. I kept learning just because I wanted to, in the back of my mind I told myself that it would serve me well when I wanted to start making video games. But I did not have a job and I got the idea that as myself when I was a kid there must be other kids that wanted to learn how to code and make video games and that is when I started NerdyPunk.
NerdyPunk was born as a startup directed towards non english speaking kids in Latin America, it provided online classes in which kids would learn how to code through video game development. I used Roblox Studio, Minecraft Education Edition and other tools related to the topic. I started it in November 2020, seven months after starting my process of learning how to code. I was not even close to being an expert in coding but I felt that what I knew would serve me well in this new mission of teaching kids how to code. Unexpectedly for me at the beginning of 2021 NerdyPunk took off really quickly and in a few months it had hundreds of kids from all around Latin America learning how to code. It really felt like something special that would be unstoppable with this new wave of virtual learning. Sometime in the middle of 2021 I felt that I had really done it, I had created a functioning startup that would keep growing for years to come. But in the world of startups things never go the way you would like and most of them are really destined to fail even if you would not want it that way.
As the pandemic started to recede it became obvious to me that things were going to change fast and I could not do anything about it. NerdyPunk was like a great surfer, it got on the wave just when it had to but the wave would not last forever and without an endless amount of money it would be impossible to sustain itself. I shut it down for good in December of 2021 as users of the platform were completely gone. I did not want my startup to fail but that is just it when it comes to startups and that is what you got to take from each one you create. It is the learning process the most important thing, for every failed startup you become much more resilient for any challenges life throws at you in the future and that is what I am taking for this new step in this road of finding oneself. I am glad for the hundreds of kids whose lives were changed by NerdyPunk and I do hope that many of them become the great creators of the future in Latin America. NerdyPunk as a startup remembered me why I started to learn how to code and also made me think about that kid from 1994 that just wanted to do cool stuff with computers. I hope to become a better version of myself in this new journey of making video games and I do hope I have just much fun as I had teaching how to code.