58 Meet Gen­er­a­tion T En­tre­pre­neur Lavine Hem­lani dis­cusses how he is tack­ling the city’s short­age of tech tal­ent head-on

Hong Kong Tatler - - Con­tents -

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 pre-his­toric 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.

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