Technocademy, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides fun and educational seminars free of charge to residents in participating senior living centers throughout the Atlanta area. Lessons include various topics on technology, ranging from Intro to Computers, to Basics of Email, Cell Phone Boot Camp, to Facebook and Social Media. The Technocademy, Inc. teams travel directly to interested senior living centers.
This amazing organization was started in 2012 by Josh Seides, a high school student at Alpharetta High School. His goal is to spread Technocademy, Inc.’s mission: promoting digital literacy and awareness across the Atlanta area.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you come up with the concept behind Technocademy, Inc.?
Josh: The motivation for my work was my grandparents (two who live in New York, two who live in Atlanta), as I often helped them out with technology before Technocademy. For many years, I had been assisting my grandparents with various devices, from iPhones to iPads to laptops. They often had a hard time keeping up to date with the family. I did so more research and found out this was not just an isolated anomaly–it was a national issue that was sparsely addressed in our society. I wanted to take matters into my own hands and thus began Technocademy to help seniors and veterans across the country reconnect with their family and friends through technology.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the challenges that you encountered starting business as teen and the greatest lesson you learned during the process?
Josh: A big challenge for us is exposure. Starting locally, it is difficult to get the message out on a national level without marketing budgets. I’ve tried to be resourceful and find contacts across the country that would be interested in spreading our reach in their local areas.
To that end, as a youngster in a rapidly evolving industry, I have made many of the “common” mistakes in the field– whether through naïveté or inexperience. I think it’s imperative for entrepreneurs to progress through the various challenges starting up a company presents and learn how to problem solve. Without past experiences and failure, success means that much less.
The fact that I’m a teenager often produces unique responses and reactions from potential partners or customers. What is truly amazing to me is the positive response, and encouragement I have received from everyone–major companies, national nonprofits, local venues, and (most importantly) affected seniors in support of Technocademy. All of our employees are also high school students and I think the continued success of Technocademy is proof that the ability, drive, and commitment to social change that teenagers can foster can be just as impactful as adults.
BusinessInterviews.com: What milestone has meant the most to you so far?
Josh: After receiving a grant from ABC/Disney and the Fitzberg Foundation, we were able to fund two new projects (Operation T-CUP and the Pocket Guide) that have been huge for our organization. I am most proud of the sheer number of lives we have been able to impact through these projects. The best part about running the business is seeing and experiencing the impact we make in the community. Whether through a nonprofit or a for-profit model, I thoroughly enjoy the ability and power businesses have to give back and create a change that is needed in society. Every day, I live this dream and am thrilled with the sanguinity and vitality seniors and veterans experience from our services.
We often have seniors and veterans come to us and share their new experiences with how they’ve learned and been able to reconnect with family and friends. I am just amazed at the potential for positive impact businesses can have in the community. In the future, no matter what business I might delve into, I look forward to enjoying what social footprints it can make for those in need.
BusinessInterviews.com: How important was the support of your local community when it came to establishing a strong foundation for Technocademy?
Josh: My local community has been one of the foundations for our success as a program. It all starts with the volunteers–we have been fortunate enough to work with more than 210 different high school students to help out, which has helped spread our scope and impact. It’s truly amazing how motivated and excited teenagers are to give back to seniors and veterans in an integral area of life. Further, so many local partners have played huge roles in our success–from the local newspapers promoting our projects, to some of the local assisted living homes and independent recreation centers, to the community at large that has supported us financially.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one tip that you wish someone would have given to you before starting your business?
Josh: The necessity of a strong support group. Starting out, I really wanted to do everything on my own. In the culture of competitive academics, “group work” and collaboration are for the most part frowned upon. This impression stuck with me at first. It worked out, but once I got involved with other dedicated staff members who shared the same passion as I did, the company grew so much quicker and with a more robust core.
BusinessInterviews.com: Despite being busy spreading the goodness of Technocademy to seniors, you’ve also just launched a sister program, CodeKids. What inspired your decision to introduce advanced technology like programming and video production/editing to elementary and middle school students?
Josh: Well, after spreading the scope of Technocademy across the nation, I wanted to continue impacting new sectors. Our overarching mission is “to spread digital literacy nationwide.” I wanted to live by this statement by helping out an entirely new segment of the population. Technology is becoming such as ingrained part of our culture today, yet most young students are only introduced to the entertainment based technologies–video games, television, Internet gaming. Programming and other advanced technologies (e.g. video production) are grossly under-addressed in the educational system, especially in elementary and middle schools. I wanted to form a strong foundation for children who don’t have the financial ability or academic opportunities to learn about these imperative topics.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are next steps for interested readers to get more involved and perhaps even develop more chapters of Technocademy within their local community?
Josh: Technocademy Chapters is definitely one of the initiatives I am most excited about. We are looking for all individuals–high school and college level and above–who would be willing to dedicate passion, time, and energy to help us crack down on digital illiteracy. This is a great opportunity to apply some of your entrepreneurial spirit, involve your community, and address an imperative issue. We provide all educational resources, can help set up lessons through our nonprofit contacts, and introduce chapters to our national network of partners spanning many industries–technology (e.g. Google, Microsoft, HP), nonprofit (e.g. United Way, YMCA), and help to spread word of your chapter through media outlets (we’ve been featured in places like US News and World Report, NBC News, CNBC, and Yahoo!).
Find out more info and take just a few minutes to fill out a Chapter Application here:
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