12 Questions with Dan Stever (Roost)

Dan Stever is a founding team member and developer at Roost.

12 Questions with is an interview series by Classana |Method featuring learners and mentors. This interview is part of the Engineer Series.

1. What was the first thing you built?

A website for my youth group when I was 13.

2. What got you interested in tech?

Three Things:

  1. Old computers that I was given
  2. this:
  1. and this:

3. How did you learn your skills?

Self-Taught. I learned what I needed to know and learned it because it excited me.

4. What lesson or skill did you learn later in life that you wish you’d learned while in school?

That Startups are a thing. I didn’t realize they existed until I was through the “prime” startup years. I was too busy writing code for fun. (Though I feel like I’m in my prime now.)

5. What do you imagine the future of education looks like?

I think about this question a lot, and I believe it is mostly because I rushed through college thinking that is what I had to do. If I had only realized the alternative opportunities. Though, they didn’t really exist when I went to school. It was pretty much go or you’re the rebel. iTunes U wasn’t a thing yet.

I think it is fascinating that ivy league institutions provide their courses free to the world. I stinking love that. I do not ever see higher-education institutions going away but do see them becoming less relevant. Also I imagine getting a degree from an institution will become obsolete. Why not get a degree for the courses you took at MIT, Stanford, and Harvard?

That is what I see at least in the semi near term.

6. What’s the best advice you ever received about succeeding in your line of work? Please elaborate.

Talk to customers. Write code.

7. What education do you recommend for people who want to do what you do?

Good question. A mix of CS, public speaking, general communication courses, and real life experience. Nothing will beat the last one. Just hustle.

8. What challenges will todays students face heading into their careers?

Their peers. I don’t think the old mentality of retiring at a job will last much longer, which means the older work force will be out sooner. I see companies poaching out of high schools right now. That signal means in order to have a job that is desirable, the skills and aptitude will have to show. It will no longer be GPA and diversity from being involved in the student government.

9. What do you see as your college experience return on investment?

I did, and my lack of specificity for a major (Communications) worked to my advantage. Comm is pretty much a grab bag at being successful in life. The major never helped on my resume, but I think the pieces it added to my life have helped at every step of the way. (Bartender -> Marketing -> Agency -> Startup)

10. Finish this sentence: “I like to work on things that…”

have impact.

11. Engineer or Designer. Which came first?

Engineer — Designers wouldn’t know what is good until they see something really bad. ;)

12. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?

I always say to my wife: “If tech and startups were no longer an option I would go back to bartending. I will never put on drab khakis and a polo shirt to go sit in a cube again.”

Bonus: What book changed your life, and why?

Gosh. Bad question. Every last good book I read I have fond feelings towards. One of the standbys though is “Zero to One” — Peter Thiel — though the take away may not be as clear as it seems.

***View Dan’s profile on Classana here: /u/danstever