Brian Asingia is CEO and co-founder of the DreamGalaxy Platform, an innovation studio that trains, advises and funds ethical entrepreneurial leaders to launch, grow and scale inclusive innovations. He has over 10 years involvement in the intersection of economy, business development, environment, technology and the arts, with a focus on Africa. Brian began his career on Wall Street and moved on to work with startups and as a consultant with governments, diplomats, educational institutions, and programs. DreamGalaxy curates and distributes authentic culturally relevant educational media for homeschoolers, school districts and lifelong learners to inspire and engage the next generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders around the world.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Brian Asingia: Entrepreneurship is earning revenue from solving people’s problems or social challenges i.e the reward for the risk taken in creating solutions to problems.
How did your company come to be?
BA: As immigrants in the US and soon to be parents, we were frustrated by the lack of culturally responsive educational media in the US with only 20% of both print and digital media being from non-white creators or firms. We wanted to be a platform for inclusive learning through storytelling and gamification across cultures and borders.
How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
BA: Covid-19 accelerated our digital and online learning solution rollout. More importantly, we prioritized homeschooling customers over regular school districts to meet the remote learning and homeschooling demand. This has seen it gain faster traction and visibility globally in over 1500 cities across 150 countries.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
BA: Our proudest moment was having a functional platform for multimedia across web, tablet, and even smartTVs with educational media from around the world in multiple languages.
The darkest moment was when an investor who had committed to lead our seed round withdrew the offer last minute on the actual term sheet signing day and that cautioned us to focus more on our customers and not over prioritize uninformed investors.
How is your company changing the landscape?
BA: We are transforming learning and education globally by putting cultural and local relevance first in an industry that is resistance to change or diversity and inclusion. In Africa, for example, we already have backing and content contributions from the Association of African Universities, a network of over 600 higher education institutions across Africa. We are currently supporting ClassLink authentication allowing millions to safely enjoy the DreamGalaxy experience at home and at school.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
BA: We wish we know how resistant US businesses are to change and inclusion. We would have spent more time building our platform and engaging the users directly instead of piloting or proposing various strategic partnerships with existing players who seem content with the status quo of exclusively white-owned publishing and Eurocentric educational media.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
BA: Trust Culture. Culture is the new currency as is Trust in an increasingly divisive world and business environment. Ethics and values are at the core of our business, partnerships and sales strategies to deliver and live the very mission we seek to achieve, that of a world where we continue to learn from each other across cultures and boundaries and not just from a single story.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
BA: Inspiration comes from within us, our why. This then extends to the love and support from our customers, community of content creators and educational partners and recently our Trusted Brands network. By focusing on why we exist and what we can do together with what we have, we are able to creatively push forward through iterative learning and service delivery.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
BA: Success is being a preferred homeschool, afterschool and lifelong learning platform for culturally responsive education globally. Our focus on authentic content from local and community members from around the world who are often people of color will allow us to meet the demands of the culturally conscious customers of the future. In addition, by leveraging technology for scale, we are able to serve users across cultures and borders e.g through localization of messaging. Ultimately, success is being trusted as an educational platform by parents and educators and being used daily or weekly across their learning journey and we believe we are getting there starting with New York City public schools with our recent integration of Login with Class Link.
Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
BA: Personal success is continuing to learn and grow and contribute to education, training, advising and funding the next generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders. Professional success has been accelerated in that there is a broader need for virtual travel, cultural awareness and understanding as well as culturally responsive learning platforms and DreamGalaxy is positioned to meet these needs.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
BA: Over the years, we have evolved from in person to fully remote to tap into our global network of talent and partners. Our process is simple, built of adding value for our customers and partners leveraging identity, ownership, trust and scale as our core values for innovation. So teams should focus on solutions that bring value to the customer and ultimately the business not just what the investors demand.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? How has it changed in recent months?
BA: Morning routine is waking up early, exercising e.g dance or yoga and meditation and then reading the news before taking on the day’s duties. While the news has been dark recently, a good analysis can show that technology is here to stay and as such businesses that automate and offer hybrid innovation models are the ones thriving despite Covid-19.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
BA: Motivation comes from our global user base as well as our real time dashboards giving us timely insights into areas we could do better, from localization to prioritizing content from new member communities as well as responding to data privacy compliance needs.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
BA: Our legacy is to inspire, train and fund the next generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders who are not afraid to question, create solutions and challenge the status quo across cultures and borders.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
BA: “I know I can.” – Nas “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” “We will never know if we don’t try” “Trust Culture”
Have you experienced mentorship in your career? Do you feel it was easily available to you?
BA: Yes, we have luckily benefited from the best mentors since the inception of our venture. Mentorship is not easily available and more importantly, the right kind of mentorship that meets entrepreneurs where they are and supports them through their unique challenges such as exclusion from global capital and financial markets for certain communities.
Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
BA: African Billionaire Mr. Tony Elumelu through his entrepreneur foundation and subsequently our Advisory Board and strategic partners. We have learnt the value of long-term planning and execution and kept the focus on the long term enabling us to execute annual goals with the customers in mind. Most importantly, books, news and even conferences or other networking events have provided adequate self-paced learning and discovery that has enabled us to learn from the best globally.
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