Made with dyslexia

February 21, 2019

Made with dyslexia

I am the founder of Gwaan and I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was 7 years old. Ironically, my twin brother didn't have the same struggle. I get asked all the time how I can code in multiple languages but still struggle to write emails. I'm want to share how neurodiversity is so important to product design and how I work around the challenges of dyslexia.

Why was data engineering appealing to you?

"You can process a page of code as a picture"

Like many people blessed with Dyslexia, I think in a really abstract way. While I'm actually a very outgoing person, my abstractedness made it difficult to explain myself, on top of struggling to read and write, I was misunderstood by other people in school. I was very disorganised and forgetful because of Dyslexia, too. However, I took to code really easily because it doesn't look like a heap of letters to me. Code to me is structured and logical - you can process a page of code as a picture.

How did dyslexia influence the idea of Gwaan?

"Gwaan is that yardie coach who high-fives you on every little win"

Getting praise for all the 'little' milestones is so important for not only sport but other areas of work. That's why 'Gwaan' is that yardie coach who high-fives you on every little win. When I think of the personality behind the product, I immediately imagine my old rugby coach and my drama teacher from sixth form; if you could merge them together, they would be the most nurturing, tough and respected trainer who was patient with me, but also saw huge potential.

When I first thought about how I'd approach an AI-powered trainer, I started to quickly imagine the technical infrastructure I would need in place and how I could scale up. That's why I also credit my dyslexia for the creativity behind the design.

What are some tips for other dyslexic aspiring entrepeneurs?

"Preparation is everything"

I have a tool that reads aloud any text for me, from papers to drafted emails. I'm also a fan of audio books, having something read to me also helps me multi-task. It speeds up painful processes and stops me making mistakes. Dyslexia makes me struggle with short-term memory, so another habit to get into is making sure all ideas are noted in a Trello card or organised into my Google calendar. Being an entrepeneur involves lots of pitching to investors. My latest purchase was a teleprompter, which helps me read off information when filming. That would summarise my advice; preparation is everything - approach this by using the digital tools around you.

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