What Matters To Me: Lavine Hemlani, Ed-tech Entrepreneur
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Lavine Hemlani wants to change the future. Through his ed-tech startup Xccelerate, the former Wall Street investment banker is offering individuals and companies the chance to upgrade their skills for the modern workplace. At school, most of us learned algebra, geography and history; Hemlani wants to teach people about artificial intelligence, software engineering and blockchain—and hopefully bring Hong Kong to the centre of the tech universe in the process.
A few years ago, I was working in New York, but I got tired of Wall Street. So I decided to change everything and move to Namibia to build schools. It was an incredible experience and made me realise how interested I am in teaching and the school system. After I moved back to Hong Kong, I decided to combine my two passions: education and startups.
Hong Kong is a very fast-paced city but the talent—particularly when it comes to tech—is often not up to par and this makes it difficult for companies to launch startups or hire top-quality engineers. Spotting a gap in the market, I launched Xccelerate, a learning centre for blockchain, coding and all things tech-related.
Every startup faces obstacles but, unusually, ours showed us that we were on the right track professionally. It really wasn’t easy to find the right people to work for us—those who had tech experience and were diligent and talented. Through Xccelerate, this is a challenge I’m trying to solve.
I’ve got pretty ambitious plans for the future. In 10 years I would like us to have built an IP-centric platform that powers thousands of platforms in countries around the globe. I want to create real educational change for people in India, China and further afield.
Education is the number one driver for economic progress in a country and I don’t think politicians or journalists focus on it nearly enough. Countries with amazing educational systems consistently outperform those everywhere else. Just look at Finland and the way they focus on blended and hybrid learning. It has incredible results. Currently we are not looking at what the future holds; our educational systems are under pressure as they are designed for prehistoric jobs rather than the new tech world we live in.
The best advice I can give anyone launching a startup is not to be afraid. Don’t worry about failure or about making mistakes, and just embrace the idea that you will go through some pain before you experience real success; this is part of the journey. And be prepared to work really, really hard.