Geek gap. There it is. The two word explanation I had been seeking to explain the challenge of being a non-tech founder.
I have a geek gap.
Blackbullion was founded on the principle of helping students develop money skills for life. That's what I came into the world to do.
And I did it well, speaking from the front of a lecture hall to students. I got 10s on my rating cards and an 8 would have me reaching for ice-cream and sympathy. My standards were high and the rooms were full.
I was the sage on stage and in my element!
But there is a moment in the life of all first time founders - or maybe it's just me - when you reach a cross-roads and you have to make the first major commercial decision of your embryonic business. For me it was a life altering one; did I want to build a decent sized lifestyle business, by selling my time in as many blocks as possible and reaching dozens of students at a time, or did I want to change the world?
I chose the latter and suddenly technology entered my life in a very real and unavoidable way.
I was far from a luddite (at least in my own opinion) - I was social media savvy and could use Excel like it was nobody's business. But as far as I was concerned Rasberry Pi was a dessert, Python was a snake and APIs, LTIs, AI, AR and VR were an alphabet soup I wanted no part of.
But that was ok - because I was a hustler with a dream and believed that if I could sell it, it could be built. And so it began.
The first clients bought into a vision of bringing a critical life skill to their students and showed me, and my company, a level of loyalty and trust, that I remain humbled by to this day. An agency was brought in to build the platform and I saw my geek gap as a blessing rather than a curse.
See if you don't know what's impossible then everything is possible. A tale is told of a student who arrived late for class - on the board was a mathematical problem which he proceeded to solve. Unknown to him the puzzle had been put on the board as an example of an un-solved mathematical challenge.
When we believe things are possible we tackle challenges without restraint.
The geek gap meant I believed the puzzle of global financial illiteracy could be solved by breaking complex, and relevant, financial issues down and giving students the skills and tools to tackle them. Equipping students with money skills for life meant deploying technology.
I saw it as the great enabler. Rather than standing before a class of 50 students we could provide a platform accessible on a student's phone and enable almost 7 billion people to take control of their finances and change their destinies.
The naysayers were plenty - but you underestimate the power of the small pebble at your peril. The right stone thrown at just the right time with sufficient speed can fell Goliath and create an almost infinite ripple effect
Suddenly, it seemed, we were in almost 20 universities in the U.K. and soon we'll begin welcoming overseas universities into our community.
But my geek gap was only getting wider. I know now the letters, and understand the superficial differences between languages but tech is moving fast, and spreading into every discipline, and my interest is superficial at best.
And that's why we finally looked for a tech lead. I love technology for what it can do for me but have no interest in figuring out how it does what it does,
The right tech-head at the table is key to contributing to the view that anything is possible while viewing the perspective through the prism of client desires and commercial imperatives. As in all parts of the business, the right mind, the right experience and the right zeal moves us from fit for purpose to frigging fantastic
And recognising that is all part of the evolution of a founder. To have any chance of success founders must constantly adapt to new circumstances and play to their strengths. We become the founder our business needs at each stage of our business. The me I am now is different in many ways to the me I was when the kernel of the idea began to take shape.
I may never be a true techy but the Geek Gap can be reduced.
If you will it, it is possible. For what was a dream - of making the world money smart - is now a strategy.
In education moving fast and breaking things is an unacceptable mantra - but that doesn't mean we can't make some waves!!
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