Launch Excel – The Personal Story

Victor Launch Excel is a website about learning and using Microsoft Excel. Most of the contents you find here comes from me – Victor. You’ll find that Launch Excel is not a tips and tricks site, though let me say I have nothing against blogs that show you tip after tip after tip – they’re neat and definitely have their place on the internet. No, instead I have a clear vision that Launch Excel will be a site to help you use Microsoft Excel more effectively through videos, mind maps, downloads and focused how-to articles. If you want to find out the story of who’s behind Launch Excel, read this article.

Simple Beginnings

Hi, my name’s Victor and I used to work a regular day job in the finance department of a world class UK technology company headquartered in Cambridge, UK. There were many things I liked about my job but the thing that kept me interested day after day was working with Microsoft Excel and learning new ways to use Excel. Early in 2011 I asked myself a question that drove me to search the internet far and wide:

What is the best way to learn Microsoft Excel?

I came across dozens of good Excel tutorials on Youtube offering entertaining educational material. And of course I found some great Excel websites and books. So I decided to start my own blog and write an article about learning Excel to try to capture some of what I found. You can read that article “The Best Way to learn Excel” by clicking here.


On my search I discovered some eye-opening stuff

On my search I discovered eye-opening stuff. For example the “up-side-down” classroom concept that was being promoted by online learning provider Khan Academy, where students view online lessons at home and do “homework” problems in class where teachers are there to help. Although this wasn’t specifically Excel training, I saw that the concept of online lessons had a lot going for it – for one it’s possible to view, fast forward, rewind and repeat an online class as much as you want. Try doing that with even the most patient classroom teacher!

Birth pains for Launch Excel

I was doing alright in my day job, but felt a strong call to do something more with my skills with Excel. I felt that I could add something more to the online Excel conversation. Having used Excel for a decade, I’ve had time to collect some ideas and thoughts about how to learn Excel. In fact there are many things I wish I had known about Excel at the start of my finance career, and I only found these out after years of work thanks to the power of Google searches and the generosity of online writers sharing their knowledge of Excel.

Big unknown!

Jumping into the Big Unknown!

Towards the end of 2011 I decided that I would pursue the ever-stronger calling of Excel, and so I handed in my resignation letter, left my comfortable 9 to 5 day job and headed into the big unknown. This wasn’t an easy decision to make as my day job had been my sole source of income. Plus my wife and I have an adorable 3 year old son to look after.

“No income” + “Lots of expenses” = “Time to hope and pray!”

I know that there are a lot of you out there who can benefit from guidance on how to learn and use Excel, and that knowledge keeps me working on Launch Excel.

Prior to setting up the Launch Excel website I did not have any experience running a website. So I plunged myself into learning about WordPress and web hosting and HTML and site design. I spent lots of late nights trying to get things off the ground and create a friendly site that would be easy to navigate. HTML, WordPress, FTP programs were all swimming in my head. For a chartered accountant trained in finance and Excel, this was way outside my familiar comfort zone.

A new Hope: Headway Theme

Eventually I found the Headway Theme for WordPress. This gives web designers the power to customize the look and feel of their site with simple drag and drop actions. What a lifesaver! I highly recommend looking into this Theme if you are interested in creating customized WordPress sites. There are other great WordPress themes out there such as Thesis, but I went for Headway for its drag and drop simplicity.

Headway — The Drag & Drop Theme For WordPress

Check out the Headway Theme!

Special Note (Nov-14 2011): The creators are about to release version 3.0 and will increase the price from November 26th (the day after US thanksgiving). To find out more about Headway before the price increase, I would advise you to check out their site, click on this link to visit it.

From the Headway Theme site you’ll see videos of the Theme in action. If you make a purchase on the Headway site after clicking through any of my affiliate links on this site, I will get a small commission from Headway. But please know that I only recommend 3rd party products that I’ve used and trust myself. In fact I’d only recommend a product on this site that I’d recommend to my close friends.

My passion for learning about Excel and sharing this knowledge with others keeps me going with Launch Excel – I want to make this website into the place to be for people who want to use Excel more effectively.

If you have any comments or suggestions on things I could do or tools I could use to improve the website, I’d be happy to know. Leave your comments below the email form.

What to do next

If you haven’t read the article that started it all off, go on and check it out. You can read that article “The Best Way to learn Excel” by clicking here. In a future article I expand on the vision for Launch Excel and hint at what’s on the horizon.

RSS feedIf you’re interested in receiving updates about future articles from Launch Excel, take this chance to subscribe to my weekly newsletter using the form below or sign up for my RSS feed by clicking on the orange RSS icon to the right. And share this with your colleagues and friends using the share buttons below.


Image Credits:
Sunrise courtesy of “gilderm“.
Jumping man with briefcase courtesy of Asif Akbar
RSS icon courtesy of Svilen Milev at

Victor Chan
Hi I'm Victor. I started Launch Excel to help you use Excel and VBA faster. Thousands of people have learned new skills and increased their effectiveness at work with our help. You can do it too! Also I've personally used Excel lots since 2002. I use it mainly in accounting and finance but I also have a Masters degree in Engineering from Cambridge University. I hope you enjoy the site and tutorials!
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Showing 3 comments
  • Bruce Cheston

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Hello Victor,

    About a year or so ago I contacted you and you got back with an answer promptly. Thank you and thank you again.

    I am currently building an Excel sheet for my daughter who works at a firm that only has 2003 Excel.

    I don’t know how to do the following in either 2003 Excel, or the 2007 Excel that I currently use.
    How does one format a cell so that only a specified number of numerals can be entered into that cell, and no-more than that specified number, and no-less than that specified number?

    How does one count, and record. The specific number of numerals specifically, or characters if that is your choice, entered into a cell in Excel 2003, and/or Excel 2007/?

    I hope you can help me with answers to these two problems.

    My daughter’s firm uses a 10-digit File-Number to identify their Clients. That number is EXACTLY 10-digits in length; no-more-than-ten, and no-less-than-ten.

    The last four digits represent the ‘file-folder-number’ for a specific Client. A Client may have many, many file-folders.
    Regarding the 10-digit File-Number: From the left, the [‘4th, 5th, & 6th digits’, as a three-digit number ] represent a specific Client. The [ ‘1st, 2nd, & 3rd’ digits from the left, as a three digit number ], must represent other things for the firm, however I don’t know what they are.

    I have built an Excel sheet for her to use to help her in her daily work. One of the items I require is for her to ACCURATELY enter the ten-digit file number into a new entry-line, or a blank line, in the Excel sheet I have built for her to use. (A no-data-line prior to this particular entry.)

    I intend for her to enter the 10-digit File-Number twice, each in two different cells on the Excel sheet, on the same line, as a verification that the File-Number entered was as correct as is possible intoday’s world of business. This would be something like when one is asked to enter your email address for a second time on many websites.

    I really built the Excel sheet to help her know when to pull-files from the file cabinet, for her executive boss. The firm only uses a hard-copy Diary-Day-Timer to tell staff when to pull a file.

    My daughter has only worked for the firm for two weeks and she has discovered many files that should have been brought forward for her executive-boss to look at. She has found many files that were Past-Due their Diary-Date and were not brought forward by previous staff on a timely basis.

    She also wants to know which file-folders need to be brought forward TODAY.

    Additionally and she would like to know ‘How many days in the future until the Diary-Date are the other files in the file cabinet.

    So far I have got the Excel sheet to work very well to answer her questions once she has gone through all the file-folders in her boss’s cabinet and assigned a new Diary-Date, if the Diary-date in the existing file-folder was in-correct.

    Since she will have to enter the 10-digit-file-number CORRECTLY, I wanted an Excel-application-system that would help ensure accuracy.

    For the File-Number entries, I wanted to produce a some sort of warning message that tells me when an entry has been made in a specific cell that is EXCACTLY ten-numerals in length; no-more-than-ten-numbers-in-length, & no-less-than-ten-numbers-in-length.

    I hope you can help me out Victor.

    Thanks again,

    Bruce Cheston

  • Victor

    Hi Bruce

    Thanks for getting in touch, and it’s great to hear back from you. After reading through your description of the spreadsheet you’re trying to build, I can advise that one option for you is to use data validation, which works in both Excel 2003 and 2007.

    In brief you can set up data validation so that it only allows entry of text / numbers that contain 10 characters. For your second confirmation column, you need to use a custom formula to tell Excel to only accept an entry if it matches the entry in the first column.

    I will send you a spreadsheet by e-mail so you can see what I mean.


    P.S. I removed your email, postal address and telephone number from your comment in case someone tries using those contact details for malicious purposes!

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