It was the summer of 2005 during a scorching day–even by Georgia standards. Noticing the sweat and toil of my neighbors as they worked on their yard gave me an idea. I decided to run a lemonade stand to make some extra cash. Of course, I fit the stereotypical sprouting of an entrepreneur that day. Since then, I have never looked back.
By my freshman year in high school, I was eager and ready to start a venture of my own. For a considerable time I dug through my mind trying to figure out a vision I could execute. It took me some time before I realized the best innovations come not from calculations but rather from authentic experiences. I’d always heard that the central pillar of entrepreneurship rested in identifying world problems and systematically developing a perfect panacea to resolve them. I realized my business would be more meaningful if the vision developed organically.
It took me a few trips visiting my grandparents in New York to realize this. Each time I would go up, my grandmother and grandfather would ask for my help with technology that they were confused with and therefore unable to use. From iPhones to computers, to the Internet and iPads, I helped them through it all. There is a population of seniors inexperienced with technological innovations ingrained in our culture. This wasn’t just with my own grandparents, but a common occurrence among the senior citizen population. Digging deep into some research online and with college labs, the immediacy and blatant consequences of the issue led me to found Technocademy, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading digital literacy among senior and veteran populations nationwide.
Through countless hours of hard work, unexpected obstacles, and a few wrenching rejections along the way, I was able to grow Technocademy to the level it is at today–a nationally recognized organization dedicated to educating seniors about technology. Through helping more than 150,000 seniors and veterans, creating a wealth of online and in-pint resources in partnership with United Way, and developing a mobile app, the organization has grown beyond what I ever could have imagined. It was tough at first fighting through the hesitation and sometimes obstinacy of senior living centers in the Atlanta area to a new organization like Technocademy. I worked my way through grassroots connections with local senior centers and eventually forming partnerships with major corporations and national organizations to collaborate on projects that would impact thousands of seniors. Founding Technocademy has taught me invaluable entrepreneurial skills and influenced my personal growth in ways I never imagined. After receiving some publicity in media outlets such as US News & World Report and Yahoo! Finance about my organization, I was able to secure grants and funding from companies such as ABC/Disney and the Fitzberg Foundation and also partner with leading companies such as Microsoft, HP, and Google.
Age is completely and utterly irrelevant for success. The age barrier is more an antiquated formality than it is an implied reality. Entrepreneurship is beautiful in and of itself in that, by definition, it allows individuals to take control without constraint—including the perceived “age requirement.” Almost everything we involve ourselves in–whether it may be learning American history or conversing at the local gym–can provide value in a growing a business. Interaction, adaptation, and receptiveness are the keys to entrepreneurship and a school education helps to broaden perspectives and expand potential for innovation. From my various classes, I have been able to learn seemingly extraneous knowledge that eventually turned out to be extremely relatable to Technocademy. Take my AP United States History class, for instance. I never would have imagined how learning about the corrupt trusts and corporations in the 1800s would have assisted my venture. Yet, their innovative diversified advertising strategies coupled with raw drive and ambition taught me more than I could have ever expected for Technocademy. I wake up each day with a renewed sense of energetic, unyielding passion that helps me propel Technocademy forward into a continually growing organization.
Technocademy has radically upheaved my previous notions of business and life. I’m no longer afraid to reach out, to interact, or to explore. The inherent aversion to experimenting with foreign ideas has lost its hold in my life. Starting a business was not just the culmination of my fastidious planning and execution; rather, it was a consummation of my life’s experiences. That intrinsic spark ignited from the 2005 scorching Georgian summer will perpetually have its imprints on me and my development, and continue to contribute to my entrepreneurial edge. Technocademy started as a wish—a wish to improve communication in the world. More than I ever thought, it has taught me invaluable streams of knowledge that have pushed forward my development as a person and an entrepreneur.