Meet Gordon Swaby:
A PSOJ 50UnderFifty awardee, and the man behind one of the Caribbean’s most innovative company, EduFocal, Gordon Swaby is a millennial entrepreneur on the fast track and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. His Twitter bio states, “Always an employer, never an employee”, and has always remained true to these words. At around age 15 or 16, when most of his peers were up to their usual teenage shenanigans, Gordon wrote a plan for his life, with one of his goals being to start a company before leaving college. He admits that it became something he was fixated on for years; its fruition was to be expected.
EduFocal Limited, an online social learning service for GSAT and CSEC students in the Caribbean that uses a concept called gamification to make learning fun for students, wasn’t this entrepreneur’s first business venture.
Prior to EduFocal I had a business called Iconictouch (a website design and development business), and prior to Iconictouch I had a website called Advance-Gamers. I’m very deliberate about my use of the words website, business and company. Advance-Gamers was a website, Iconictouch was a business and EduFocal is a company. I started Advance-Gamers because it was a great way for me to get free video games from American video game publishers. I never ran it like a business, but it certainly helped me to develop skills that would be very valuable later in my life. Iconictouch was registered as a sole proprietorship; that only lasted for a little under a year.
Coined a 21st century learning tool, EduFocal was an idea that started with his cousin, Luwayne, which he immediately liked and started building on. Both men started out together, but with the constraints of pursing his Master’s, Luwayne pulled out leaving Gordon to toil alone. And toil he did. By November 2010, EduFocal was incorporated and later launched at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 15, 2012. But that was just the beginning of a company now acclaimed to be “the smart, new study tool for CXC & GSAT students.” With plans to expand the service to Trinidad and Tobago, a recent partnership with Versan Educational Services to provide SAT prep for their students, and another with the Government of Jamaica to place EduFocal on close to 1,000 tablet computers for students, 2014 was undoubtedly an exciting year for Gordon and his company.
When asked what has been his most satisfying moment in business, his answer was modest and succinct, “In one word: growth,” Swaby said. “There isn’t a specific moment of satisfaction for me. It’s just really reflecting on what we’ve accomplished, but also appreciating that we have a far way to go. The most satisfying thing for me is validation from the parents who pay for our service and their children who use and enjoy it. That’s an amazing feeling; a feeling I’ll never get over.”
Conviction, resourcefulness and chutzpah are what he believes to be the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and attributes his own success to confidence. This, he also cites, is the key element for starting and running a successful business: “Be confident in what you are doing. You must believe in what you are doing because if you are not confident, other people won’t believe in you.”
It also should come as no surprise that a man of his stature does not subscribe to the dogma of failure.
Failure is what you make it and I don’t believe in failing. I think this quote from Sarah Dessen articulates how I feel about “failure”:
“I don’t believe in failure, because simply by saying you’ve failed, you’ve admitted you attempted. And anyone who attempts is not a failure. Those who truly fail in my eyes are the ones who never try at all. The ones who sit on the couch and whine and moan and wait for the world to change for them.”
You can’t prevent mistakes, in fact, making mistakes is a big part of becoming a better person. If you’re learning from something then you’re not failing.
While he doesn’t believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur, his top three pieces of advice for new entrepreneurs, or people who want to become entrepreneurs, are sweet and simple: “Have confidence in yourself, your ideas and your abilities. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Read a lot and listen a lot.”
At 24 years old, Gordon is wise beyond his years, and completely revolutionizing the way our children learn. His accomplishments precede his humble persona, but he is the true definition of a full-blooded entrepreneur, and his fortitude is to be lauded. With a goal of listing EduFocal on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in the coming years, only the best is to be expected from him as he continues to grow his company and explore new opportunities. If you ask me, I’ll tell you that Gordon Swaby is poised to be the next entrepreneurial mogul coming out of Jamaica, and maybe even the region. Watch out, world!Making mistakes is a big part of becoming a better person. If you're learning from something then… Click To Tweet