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100% life: kay ashaolu

06/19/12 , , , ,

The Itch

So what does it mean when you have “the itch?” “The itch” has several meanings, but the one that resonates with me the most is a feeling that continually drives one to figure out how to do things better: to dream of a better world. Sometimes a person with the itch decides that the fastest way to make their dreams a reality is to start a business and do it themselves. I found that I had this itch during the start of my career.

After I graduated from college I eventually started a web development firm. During that two-year period I came in contact with solo entrepreneurs, small business owners, and non-profit managers that had a passion to make their dreams real.  I remember creating an internet presence for a Christian international ministry in midtown Manhattan. They wanted to create a place where international students that haven’t been into the United States long could go and get the information they need. To go through the process to create the internet analog of their organization was a great experience. These and other experiences made me wonder if there were ways where I could help even more people at the same time. That’s when I got the itch.

So what am I doing right now?

I moved from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area to experience the quintessential place for people with the itch in tech: Silicon Valley. I am currently studying for a Masters in Information Management Systems at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry: most don’t (and I find it hard to explain haha). However, what drew me to this program is its inherent multidisciplinary nature that highlights different aspects of a product or service that needs to be considered at the same time. From studying information organization and computer science, to learning how to design applications that not only enables people to do what they want to do (without getting sued…) but is also a pleasure to use. I am now writing this post from an iPad and a wireless Bluetooth keyboard in the middle of Starbucks: need I say more?

I attend UC Berkeley because I have always had dreams that I wanted to make real that would help people’s daily lives. As far as I can remember I was always asking the questions that sometimes annoy even the most patient of people. Why doesn’t Microsoft Vista work? Why is watching football online such an intricate process? Why can’t I find the right person to help me lose weight?

That last question is something I’m actually tackling right now with a website I started, P2PTrainer gives people direct access to personal trainers for their fitness questions, advice, and training sessions. The site aims to be a resource where you can learn more about personal trainers before you actually hire them. With P2PTrainer, I hope to take away the pain and worry of hiring a personal trainer and get people connected to the right one for them. I have seen and experienced what a personal trainer can do in the lives of people that need their services. However, I’ve also seen how hard it is for the general public to know about their skills, especially since national gyms generally do not easily provide this information. P2PTrainer is my first stab at solving a problem I have gotten an itch for and I’m excited.

In short, after my undergraduate schooling and my industry experience I realized that a significant number of issues do not lie with what’s possible with technology, but rather an inability of companies to intimately understand the plights of the consumer and a lack of willingness to do something about it. They may know your age, birth date, where you live, and what soda you like, but they don’t understand that maybe you do want your cellphone to work in your house without going outside of your home.

I have found that people with the ability to create a product and the ability to empathize with the consumer are needed for true innovation. And I am developing those skills so that I can make my dreams come true.

Kay Ashaolu is just a guy that’s trying to figure out why things are the way they are. Oh, and he’s also try to make those things better.

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