Busy Mom Frustrated with Finding STEM Classes for Daughter Starts Online Learning Platform
Learning is always healthy, so today we’re excited to tell you about a new way to keep your brain cells sharp. Meet Amy Olivieri,President and CEO of TakeAClass. TakeAClass is an online resource to support academic, recreational, and professional class searches, payment processing, live stream technology, and Classalytics – an event management tool for instructors, schools, and organizations.
It seeks to revolutionize educational options for adults and children by providing access to local and online classes to anyone in the world.
Turns out, the Global E-Learning Market is expected to reach $325 Billion by 2025.
Welcome Amy. Tell me more about what prompted you to start TakeAClass?
AMY OLIVIERI: “As a busy mom and professional the last thing I have time for is to spend hours online searching for swim or piano classes for my daughter or a salsa dancing computer class for me. I discovered that when needing to take a class there was no online platform that immediately came to mind. So, I would have to search the internet or ask my friends and family for recommendations. So, I created TakeAClass!
Name is easy for everyone to remember. That’s a major plus right there.
AMY OLIVIERI: “Yes! And TakeAClass takes the drama out of the class search process, making it easy for consumers to find exactly what they want – including fitness, cooking, dance, computer, skydiving classes and thousands of other classes. The idea behind TakeAClass is to organize all the information needed to make an informed decision in one place. We allow consumers to search class listings for free.”
Who can use it?
AMY OLIVIERI: “Instructors, schools, and organizations will have the convenience of listing their classes, which will help increase their visibility and get more students with stunning profiles, photos, class descriptions and schedules.”
What if someone wants to teach cooking or how to knit or play basketball on the site, how does it work? Do they get paid?
We charge a 18% booking fee for every class purchased through our website. There is no monthly subscription. We don’t get paid unless a class is paid for.
AMY OLIVIERI: “Teachers are our class vendors. They get to set their own price for teaching and get paid weekly for all completed classes.”
Let’s say there’s a local kid’s cooking class in town or yoga class for adults and they want to fill those classes locally — can they utilize the site to fill classes?
AMY OLIVIERI: “Yes. Right now, we’re launching in Houston, Texas. But we will be available everywhere soon.”
Great. What about the person wanting to take the class? Do they pay?
“It’s free for consumers to search through our marketplace of classes. They simply search, find, and buy the class they wish to take.”
You also intend to utilize blockchain technology. Tell me about that.
AMY OLIVIERI: “We seek to take advantage of the exciting blockchain technology by offering global access to education while removing the barriers to pay for it by introducing our own cryptocurrency, which we hope will change the way payments are accepted for academic institutions.”
You were raised by a single mother who is now a retired nurse. Tell me what role your upbringing played in what you’re doing today.
AMY OLIVIERI: “My mother instilled in me at an early age that if I wanted to be successful I needed an education. So education was my first passion. She raised two children and worked multiple jobs. She was my first role model and gave me my work ethic. She taught me that I could pave my own path, which gave me the confidence to excel in my professions as an African-American woman in male dominated industries.”
What are some challenges you faced launching it and how did you overcome them?
AMY OLIVIERI: “My greatest challenge was finding trusted service providers who didn’t over promise and under deliver. It’s not easy to find the right team ofpeople who see your vision and are willing to move with that vision to make your idea a reality. And as a female founder of a tech company there are many obstacles you must overcome in this space. I have an amazing support infrastructure that helps me navigate around the challenges and stay focused.”
Part of that supportive infrastructure is from you forming a strategic partnership with KiwiTech, where we met.
AMY OLIVIERI: “Yes, we’re pleased to join hands with KiwiTech and view them as the ideal technology partner to help us launch our platform and take it to the next level.”
Explain to our readers what KiwiTech does.
AMY OLIVIERI: “KiwiTech, LLC, is a technology services provider that invests in tech startups. Most recently, they featured their first all Female Founders Demo Day in New York City. As part of the partnership, KiwiTech will provide exclusive technology development capabilities to TakeAClass.”
CEO of KiwiTech says:
“KiwiTech is excited to partner with TakeAClass,” says Rakesh Gupta, CEO of KiwiTech. “Their platform offers consumers fast access to academic and recreational local and online classes. Leveraging our deep domain expertise, we’re committed to helping TakeAClass achieve their mission.”
When do you launch?
AMY OLIVIERI: “We’re real excited to go live Monday, June 25, 2018.
How can be people sign up for a class or offer one on the site?
Thank you, Amy! Congratulations and continued success. You’re a great role model.
More About KiwiTech
KiwiTech provides end-to-end digital technology solutions across a wide range of industries, including publishing, healthcare, media & entertainment, education, financial services, energy and nonprofit & government.
KiwiTech has quickly gained recognition as an innovator by investing in numerous early-stage startups and partnering with large enterprises. Drawing on its deep expertise across mobile and web technologies, KiwiTech enables companies to create groundbreaking digital experiences. KiwiTech is based in Washington DC, with additional offices in New York and New Delhi.
ABC-TV is safe. Mark Cuban is safe. And so is Mr. Quiggly.
A start-up is a business or undertaking that has recently begun operation.
A Healthy Start-Up is one that has founders that make their mental, physical and spiritual health a priority. They know that if they are unhealthy, it infects the rest of their team and their company. The same is true if they are healthy. People emulate those they admire. If you’re a leader — you have the ability to influence others. Influence them towards daily healthy habits. Neglect your health. Neglect your company. Great leaders have already learned this valuable lesson.
Lead your team towards healthy habits. Build a healthy company.
Successful companies are built with a strong foundation. Think about it. If your own mind, body or spirit suffers, how can you possibly bring your best to team, employees, clients, customers, board or investors? The answer is you can not. Taking time to nourish those things daily is not selfish or time wasted, it’s actually selfless and time/energy gained to serve all the aforementioned best, as well as family and friends to bring life balance.
I believe Entrepreneurs need to think of their HEALTH as a BANK ACCOUNT.
Make deposits now.
Benefit later. Health is Your Greatest Wealth. Talk to any old rich person to confirm.
Here are 5 things you experience when working on a startup, which may affect health.
1. You will be excited. New start-up. Woo-hoo! I’ll work 24/7 on this!
2. You will get too busy to prepare meals. I’ll just order in a pizza. Again.
3. You will experience information overload and sit at a computer for hours on end.
4. You will get bummed out and not know why. (Refer back to #1, 2, 3)
5. You will get tired and have no time for family or friends.
REPEAT. WHAT GOOD IS IT WHEN YOU, THE FOUNDER, ARE NO LONGER AROUND TO REAP THE BENEFITS BECAUSE WHAT YOU’VE REALLY BUILT IS AN EARLY GRAVE. ALL 5 MAKE WITHDRAWALS IN YOUR ACCOUNT.
The good news is every day YOU get to decide which one you’ll do.
Your aim is to make DEPOSITS into what I call a HEALTHY START-UP ACCOUNT.
1. You will be excited.
You are running on adrenaline. Your dream team is in place. You have a great team in place. You have a vision. You’re executing on it. You’re making sales. You’re gaining traction. You’re meeting with potential investors. Exciting. So exciting you can’t sleep.
Tips to sleep: Create a dark area at room temperature (not too hot, not too cold) with a fan or quiet music (no gadgets!). Remember, you are excited and may be running off of adrenaline. But the same adrenaline will zap your energy and exhaust you if you don’t regulate your daily sleep. Set a regular time for turning in and try to get away from technology and relax your mind beforehand. Step outside, stretch, breathe.
SLEEP is a DEPOSIT. Repeat that with me. Sleep is a deposit into your Healthy Start-Up.
Here is expert advice from sleep specialists Dr. Kingman Strohl of University HospitalsCase Medical Center, Dr. Joe Golish of MetroHealth Medical Center, and Dr. Douglas Moul of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation:
Go to sleep an hour ahead of time. Same time. Every night.
Don’t just jump into bed — start your sleep ritual an hour or two ahead of time. And, this is crucial: Try to go to bed at the same time every single day. Discern what the best time for you is and go for that, consistently. Don’t tough your way through your sleepy hours and chance getting a second wind.
Avoid all stimulants.
• That means caffeine in any form (it’s OK to drink some in the morning, but not cup after cup after cup), watching TV, working out, doing anything online (the blue light given off by TV and computers have shown to be disruptive to the pre-sleep cycle), arguingwith a family member. Consciously cultivate peacefulness before bedtime. No alcohol before bedtime either (if you fall asleep, you’ll likely wake up again in a few hours).
• Let go of anxiety about going to sleep, and of worrisome thoughts. This isn’t easy, and it takes practice. “You can’t change the world,” Strohl says. “Remember that!” It’s okay to read an enjoyable, but not too stimulating book, which can take your mind off worries.
Lavender is surprisingly effective.
• Good sleep habits are imperative, says Strohl. It’s important to remember that everyone has insomnia at some point and hardly anyone falls asleep right away. We really shouldn’t, because it takes awhile for our bodies and brains to wind down. In fact, says Strohl, “If you are falling asleep within five minutes of your head hitting the pillow, then you are sleep-deprived.”
Cool, dark room with lavender mist.
Do things to create a supportive sleep environment: Make your room cool and dark, don’t have a TV or computer in it, spray a lavender mist on your pillow (it is supposed to be surprisingly effective for promoting drowsiness). If you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and read for a while in a chair or inanother room. When you get sleepy again, get back into bed. This way you won’t associate your bed with your inability to sleep.
What about herbs and supplements?
• Some people use melatonin, a dietary supplement available over the counter, to help them sleep. But be careful: the strength of it varies because the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements. Your doctor, however, can prescribe a melatoninlike drug (Rozerem orthegenericramelteon, a melatonin receptor) as an alternative. Some people say valerian, another herb, works for them, but doctors say studies have shown that might just be a placebo effect.
What about prescriptions?
• Try reconditioning your brain. If you are taking a prescription sleep aidand want to stop, start taking it with a glass of warm milk, Strohl says. Tell your brain the milk is making you sleepy. Then, after a week or two, just drink the milk. Your brain is highly suggestible, so this will work — you will establish the thought that milk is what makes you sleepy.
• If you decide to stop taking your prescription sleep medication, it’s best to do it on a weekend or when you have a couple of days off. You will toss and turn for a few nights, but, doctors say, your body will adjust. You have to be patient and give it a few days.
What about coffee during the day?
If you’re tired during the day as a result, beware of compensating with caffeine. As doctors point out, a regular cup of the coffee that we drink today (and it’s usually not a cup if you measure it out, but two or three) has twice as much caffeine as it used to. The same goes for energy drinks or caffeinated soft drinks. They will affect your ability to sleep.
I find it funny because I realize getting coffee away from people in Silicon Valley, NYC or any Urban Jungle is like getting shoes away from Imelda Marcos. Addictions to either (shoes or coffee) aren’t healthy. Period. One or two cups in the morning is fine, but most people crash mid-afternoon and reach for more.
It’s not going to be easy to stop drinking coffee if you’re addicted to it.
If it would completely stress you out to quit your coffee addiction right now, try taking breaks. Try white tea (15mg caffeine) vs. coffee (120 mg caffeine).
2. You will be too busy to eat right.
BREAKFAST, LUNCH and DINNER and spending time OUTDOORS are a DEPOSIT.
Remember when you wake up ready to go to work exclaiming you’re not hungry and just want coffee –that’s a withdrawal in a healthy company leader. That’s you. I’m a big fan of protein in the morning. Protein contains tyrosine, an amino acid that elevates the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. It makes you feel full too, so you don’t overeat. Protein keeps your metabolism steady. Two eggs in the morning. Ten almonds and water or tea mid-morning before lunch rolls around prevents rollercoaster highs and lows. If you can be outside –the fresh air will do you good. Breathe in the fresh air. If you’re in NYC, unless you can see trees, disregard. Also, whenever you have a meeting –if you can have it outdoors . If you can walk and talk (I always say, “Let’s be like West Wing…”) –even better. All healthy deposits in you and your team. Relaxing together eating a healthy and leisurely meal is wonderful too.
3. You will be on information overload.
MEDITATION is a DEPOSIT.
Emails, Meetings, Conferences, Phone, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Trade Magazines, Trade Shows, etc. can drain you mentally. Take breaks. Once you do, you’ll take more of them because you’ll notice a positive difference in how you feel engaging in your real community instead of the on-line one.
Computers can be illusions. You won’t recognize when your inbox or online activity really looks like THIS. But you’ll feel it. Before computers, we could visually see when we were “swamped.” Now, it’s hidden. Ten thousand emails. Five are vital. Don’t sweat it. Set technical boundaries. Give yourself at least an hour each day when you are away from all electronic devices. The more, the better.
Whenever you stop to check in with the real you without devices —it re-energizes you. Just 3-minutes of meditating will make you more alert. I recommend doing so first thing in the morning when you wake and again at noon and 3 p.m. These mini-meditation breaks will energize you and keep you focused. Smile at and deep breathe. Breathe 10 seconds (count to 10 slowly) inhale and 10 seconds exhale.
Science and technology reporter, Daniel Sieberg wrote a book called, “The Digital Diet” I recommend. His 4-step plan to help you regain control, focus, and true connection in your life are as follows (but pick up the book for details):
Step 1//Re: Think:
Consider how technology has overwhelmed our society and the effect it’s had on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Step 2//Re: Boot:
Take stock of your digital intake using Sieberg’s Virtual Weight Index and step back from the device.
Step 3//Re: Connect:
Focus on restoring the relationships that have been harmed by the technology in your life.
Step 4//Re: Vitalize:
Learn how to live with technology—the healthy way, by optimizing your time spent e-mailing, texting, on Facebook, and web surfing in this book.
4. You will get bummed out. Meetings will get cancelled. Things may not move as quickly as you’d like. Frustrations at limited resources to compete will happen. You will get bummed out. That is why it’s so important for you to stay in top mental, physical and spiritual form. You will be able to overcome challenges when you are healthy.
On a daily basis, projects can pile on stress. Get up every 15 minutes and stretch or walk around. Exercise. Break it up into 15 minutes of activity if you can’t break away for longer. Walk. Run. Climb stairs. Breathe deeply. Repeat. Take breaks to get outside as often as you can during the day.
Be centered. Centered people do not react. When something happens outside of them –they can reflect on it. Anyone who reacts immediately in a highly emotional state isn’t centered. No good decision is ever made out of anger. Remember that. If you are going to run a company –your ability to remain calm and make good decisions is a must. It sounds odd, but you actually have to practice being calm. Test it out with family members. When someone says something that pushes your buttons –practice not reacting. Breathe. Observe. Don’t react. If you have to silently count to 100 inside. The situation may diffuse by the time you get to one hundred.
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. John F. Kennedy
5. You will get tired. – Start back at #1.
In summary, don’t be one of those founders that brags and boats about not getting any sleep or living on coffee. It sends the wrong message to your team. Be a healthy example. Surround yourself with a healthy team. Build a healthy company or companies.
Consider this advice (some is the same) from local CEOs, published in SMART CEO Magazine.
Meditate: You don’t have to be a monk,
but ﬁnd that one activity that can
always relax you to re-center your mind.
Make it a plan: Schedule your activities
like you would schedule a meeting –
and don’t skip it. Personal time is just
as important as business time.
events and nonproﬁ t organizations
provides a great opportunity for teambuilding and giving back.
Deﬁne your goals: What do you want to
accomplish? Deﬁ ne it, and chase after
it. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you
have a vision.
It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. Mohandas Gandhi
I recommend a copy of Mark Cuban’s book. In one day, the slim under-100-page book, titled “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It,” soared to the top of the bestseller charts at the big online book-buying sites, with particularly strong sales onAmazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.
Surround yourself with healthy, positive, can-do/will-do people. It makes a huge difference in execution, results, growth, success and being a healthy founder with a thriving, healthy company that values a balanced life and health as your greatest wealth.