I’m into software testing, and I have 16 years of industry experience. I worked for a multinational consulting firm. My clients were product-based multinationals (Toyota, etc.).
During my corporate stint, I spent my first 13 years testing the software manually, i.e., without the help of tools. Then, for the next 3 years, I got into Java programming and started using various open-source tools and libraries to automate the test cases that we use to test the software. This role is typically referred to as a Software Developer in Test (SDET). Essentially, this is a development role, but it is in the testing stream and not the development stream. I use to write code in Java programming using functions from the open source libraries. This code would then be deployed to test the software automatically.
I left the corporate job two years ago and went on to become an Udemy instructor. I have online courses hosted on Udemy, and I teach about the same tech that I have gained experience in over the last 16 years. All my courses involve writing code using Java as the programming language. I teach my students about open source tools and how to use them to create test automation frameworks for testing software.
All my students on Udemy are paid. I have had more than 24,000 enrollments in the last two years. My last 12-month average pre-tax revenue is almost 70–80% of the average entry-level software engineer job in the UK (sorry, I can’t reveal the exact figures). I currently hold a “Udemy Instructor Partner” badge which is given only to those Instructors having courses in their “Udemy For Business” catalog, who have higher rate of engagement with students and maintain the overall instructor rating of more than 4.4/5. Currently, 70% of my revenue comes from “Udemy For Business” customers. These are employees from software firms who want to get trained on writing code to test software automatically.
I regularly engage with my students on LinkedIn. I take their calls, guide them, and regularly post on LinkedIn. I have more than 10,000 followers on LinkedIn (all organic and related to my field).
I love open-source tools. I have big plans for the next 6–9 months. I would like to double my Udemy revenue and contribute further to the open source community.
So, here’s what I’d like to do in the next 6–9 months:
Create my own website (hosted by a third party like teachable.com with my own domain name; I would mostly be involved in content creation, content management, and resolving student queries and issues). In the next 6–9 months, I plan to grow this to at least half the monthly revenue that I get from Udemy currently. I would sell all my courses as a package, so my per student revenue would be much higher than what I get from Udemy currently. I would also provide some value-added services like mentoring, resume preparation, etc.
Grow the Udemy business further by creating a few more courses.
Contribute to an open-source wrapper tool that’s built on top of one of the open-source tools that I teach about. The wrapper has some traction currently, and I believe that if I start contributing and sharing about it in the community, it may gain further traction and adoption. Quantitatively, what level of contribution is expected here? For evaluating the reach of the tool itself, what factors do they consider?
Currently, I resolve the queries and issues of my students on Udemy (over 2,000 queries and issues resolved in the last 2 years). I intend to do so on a larger scale. It could be through Stack Overflow or discussion forums for the open-source tools I teach about.
If I’m able to achieve all of the above in the next 6–9 months, do you think I stand a chance to apply for Exceptional Promise? Do you think I need to do something more or channel my efforts in a specific direction?
In the long run, I have a lot more things to do, like live training, corporate training, more and more contribution towards open source tools, etc. The Udemy business (including my own website) has a huge potential to grow 3–5 times in the next 3-5 years.
- I suppose my 16 years of experience at the consulting firm may not count. Please correct me if I’m wrong here. So, essentially, for the purpose of the visa application, I would be considered self-employed with 2–3 years of experience. Does this make me eligible for Exceptional Promise?
- At this point in time, I’m not sure from where I would be getting the recommendation letters. I can approach senior managers through my previous clients, which are product-based multinational firms. I’m not sure if that would count. Any guidance would be much appreciated.
- Since I have a decent average revenue per month (and I plan to increase it further in the next 6–9 months), would this have any impact on making the application stronger?
- I do have plans to conduct sessions at engineering colleges and talk about the career paths in the field that I teach about. I’m not sure if that would be of any help as far as the visa application is concerned.
I would appreciate your expert guidance. I really need to channel my focus, as there are always some time constraints on the efforts that we put forth. I don’t want to waste time doing things that may not really strengthen my application. Thank you in advance.