Ryan Singer

Ryan designs user interfaces, writes code and manages products at Basecamp. In his daily work he combines low-level attention to detail with a high-level overview of what matters to customers.


adjunct Teacher

What are you excited about now that you're teaching at Starter School?

It would be such a gift to have more people around who can execute well. Everybody needs that and that's what's exciting is that there are so many things out there that aren't happening because people just don't know how to do it. And for me, it's as simple as that.

If you were to looking to hire someone at Basecamp, do they need to have a product they can show you?

If we want to hire somebody who can build things, what else can you say other than what have you built? You know what I mean? Like...did you have a good dream about building something one day or did you watch somebody build something? Or what was it? It's like, "Hey, what have you built?" And then we'll look at it and ask how you thought about it while you were building it. What was important about it when you were building it? What were you hoping to do? What did you feel? And then it's not about looking that somebody built something perfect, it's more about what their thought process was and what were they trying to do.

How do you feel about teaching product development?

I mainly want the leverage. If other people can do this kind of thing, then I can think about other things at work. And if they can't do that, then I have to baby sit the development process. Which is not a long run strategy that I want to be doing into the future. It's much more fun to make other people good at something than to be relied on to do it yourself. So, it's freedom and a feeling of having done something useful, to pass that understanding on to somebody else and then they can use that to do great things. Life is short, there's a lot to do.

“If you’re the kind of person that isn’t open to learning from others, this isn’t for you.”

What goes into shipping a product?

Shipping is an outcome of good development and design process. You have to eventually say, "This is good enough to go" and that's a strategic or management decision to say "Are we providing enough value? Which features need to be here in order to release this and people will pay for it?" There's a certain amount of strategy and high level thinking there but you can't just do that all day. You have a few key moments where you're like a city planner saying "we should really have a school here"" and then, "we need a few bars and restaurants over here" and "make sure the sidewalk is clean." You see how the whole thing would be valuable and then you have to actually sit back and all the work is with the developers and the designers creating the stuff.

If you have a very healthy design and development process, everyday, you're making something useful. It's like build this today and it works and we could give it to a customer right now and they could actually operate it and they would do something with it. And then we build this the next day and then over the next week, we build this. And everyday, you're building and building. Shipping becomes--it's not actually something you do, it's just stopping. Because you've been building useful things that makes sense the whole time and then shipping is just saying, "That's enough." And then you open the doors.

Watch Ryan talking about his approach to product development

Essentials of Product Development - Ryan Singer from ChicagoRuby on Vimeo.



Tuition for Starter School is $12,000 per quarter, excluding housing, materials, and personal expenses. A refundable deposit of $3,000 will be required in order to confirm your acceptance. One week before the start of each quarter a payment of $12,000 must be made. For example, the Winter quarter begins on January 6, so a payment of $12,000 would be due no later than December 30.

Cost Breakdown
Fall quarter -$12,000
Winter quarter $12,000
Spring quarter $12,000
Total $24,000

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How have other students financed their tuition?

Our students have creatively raised funds for Starter School in numberous ways. They've sourced online donations, secured company sponsorship, created friends and family loans, and even sold their cars. The students who have given up the most tend to get the most out of the program. They treat it like a serious, life-changing investment— which is exactly what it is.

A New Way to Pay For Starter School

We are excited to announce a partnership with Upstart, a platform that allows individuals to get financial investment to pursue their dream careers. This partnership allows current students and future Starter School students to raise funding for Starter School tuition.

Here are the requirements to qualify for Upstart:

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident currently living in the US
  2. Be at least 18 years old;
  3. Have a valid e-mail account;
  4. Have a verifiable name, date of birth, and social security number
  5. Have graduated from a 4-year (bachelor's degree) accredited college in 1995 or later or be accepted by and soon to enroll in a 4-year accredited (bachelor's degree) college;
  6. Have an account at a U.S. financial institution with a routing transit number; and
  7. Meet our minimum credit requirements.