Learn how you can leverage accel.io to learn from other entrepreneurs to start and grow your businesses.
“We all depend on entrepreneurs for our economy to grow and the government would help entrepreneurs tremendously by educating everyone on the merits of entrepreneurship.”
– Scott Annan
What motivated you to start Accel.io?
I hate school. I dropped out of school when I was 16 because I found it boring and impractical. Although I eventually returned to school and completed a graduate degree, I still resent the traditional way of teaching which has now been extended to online learning: a single “teacher” who lectures concepts to students who may or may not know how to apply those concepts. Just imagine the millions of hours invested every year producing content (projects, papers, dissertations, presentations, etc.) with only the value of a teacher to evaluate one’s ability!
While greater access to education is definitely better for humanity, it means that many more people have the same credentials. As a result, experience is becoming more valuable than a paper saying you have conceptual knowledge. And in today’s networked world, its easier than ever to “do something” by volunteering or contributing to projects from anywhere in the world.
That’s where having “a guide” makes much more sense to me. I don’t want someone to tell me how to do something, I want to use the actual blueprint that someone else used and then adapt it as I go. Not everyone can teach, but anyone can create a guide based on actual experience accomplishing something.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge that entrepreneurs face in Canada?
I think the greatest challenge for Canadian entrepreneurs is the lack of positive public opinion about the importance of entrepreneurs. In my opinion entrepreneurs rank below executives of large corporations, doctors, architects, athletes, lawyers and many other professions. As a mentor to many young entrepreneurs I hear that young people are dissuaded from being entrepreneurs by their parents – its often not seen as a “real profession”. This is a major psychological hurdle as it prevents people from buying from startups, from investing in them, from working for them, or encouraging people to start or continue building businesses.
Do you feel there is too much emphasis placed on government in solving the problems of entrepreneurs? Whose role is it: Media, Education, Government or startups themselves?
The government should be helping entrepreneurs by promoting them, recognizing them, and raising public awareness about their importance in our society. Entrepreneurs are busy people and can’t afford the time or money to lobby the government or create public awareness. We all depend on entrepreneurs for our economy to grow and the government would help entrepreneurs tremendously by educating everyone on the merits of entrepreneurship.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned from building your businesses?
From a business standpoint: It’s hard to create a new “product category”. Our guides are more than books, different than online courses, and more “do it yourself” than hiring a consultant. When you’re trying to create and market something that has never existed (but is “kind of similar”), it’s very difficult to gain traction.
From a personal standpoint: Keep an eye on the big picture. It’s really easy to get over stressed from immediate pressure. This is my fourth startup, so although I still get stressed out (which can be a great motivator at times!), I try to focus on decisions that will have an impact 6 months to two years from now instead of reacting to the immediate crisis.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are starting up today?
Go for it. Use all your creativity, passion, and vision to create something amazing – don’t try to copy someone else. Success and failure are relative terms. Putting your heart and soul into something you really believe in will enrich your life your, and will make your community, country, and world a better place. And if it helps any, know that I’m at least one more person (besides your mom) who believes you can do it!