With an assist from Mobile Makers Academy, Eric Webb goes from chef to app developer
As a chef, Eric Webb dazzled people with handcrafted creations springing from his innovative mind. Today, he’s doing much the same, though he’s traded proteins and vegetables for animations and tableviews.
“It’s been an incredible adventure—challenging, fun and rewarding,” the freelance app developer says. “I’ve always been passionate about creating. I had that as a chef, but the opportunity and freedom I gained by becoming a developer is thrilling.”
While running his own restaurant in south Mississippi, Eric saw mobile’s unique, compelling rise and wanted in on the action. He sold his share of the restaurant, moved to Austin, Texas in 2011, and launched a member-management app for CrossFit gyms called Outside the Box, outsourcing the app’s initial design and development.
When he wanted to update the app, he searched for new technical help, an endeavor that went nowhere and led Eric to begin learning to code on his own.
“I told myself that I’d be ticked if I was in the same spot a year from now, so I took matters into my own hands,” Eric says.
Over the next eight months, he read books and completed online courses. While those efforts proved helpful, providing him foundational knowledge and basic coding literacy, he craved an immersive and more linear experience.
After much debate, Eric enrolled in Mobile Makers’ flagship iOS Bootcamp in September 2013. It required investment and sacrifice, Eric acknolwedges, but he trusted the process and embraced the potential.
“I felt Mobile Makers gave me the quickest, most direct route to attack the opportunities mobile provided,” he says.
Eager to maximize the experience, he attacked Mobile Makers’ rigorous curriculum, valuing each day’s opportunity to build on previous lessons. Brick by brick, he calls it. Save for a half-day break to visit Chicago’s museums, and participating in Chicago’s Startup Weekend, he spent nearly all his waking hours—up to 90 hours each week—at Mobile Makers' Chicago headquarters.
“For two months, it was a completely consuming experience, which is what I wanted,” he says. “There was such an intense focus on the curriculum that you had no choice but to run with it.”
Relishing the healthy competitive energy of his cohort, Eric gained confidence in his coding abilities, a once-elusive prospect. In a capstone group project, Eric and his teammates—Kyle Mai and Kabir Mahal—took JustMovd, an app to connect people who recently relocated to a new city, from idea to reality.
“During the course, you’re continually building on what you learned before—getting more dynamic, more screens and so on—and then you hit the capstone project and put it all together,” Eric says. “It’s an incredibly rewarding experience that sheds a ton of light on just how far you’ve come.”
After graduating from Mobile Makers in November 2013, Eric returned to Austin and teamed up with two other freelance developers to tackle contract work. Over the last year, he’s completed apps such as JamFeed, which allows users to follow their favorite musicians, concerts and festivals, and Beanstream, a mobile point-of-sale system. He’s now working on three other projects including an app for ModelLauncher.com, which hosts online competitions for aspiring models.
“I had done a lot of important groundwork before I went to Mobile Makers—the studying, trial and error and networking—but Mobile Makers gave me the tools and confidence I needed to succeed as a developer.” he says. “It all worked hand in hand, and there’s no way I am where I am without Mobile Makers.”
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