Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in technology and innovation but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Penny de Byl, CEO & Director of Holistic3d, located in Gold Coast, Australia.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Holistic3d.com, an online provider of tertiary-level game development education. My customers range from 12-year-olds to retirees. I know this because I had both a student who was in Spain who was 12 and exceptionally clever for his age and a retired NASA engineer send me emails letting me know how much they loved my courses.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve always loved art. Be it painting, crafting, pottery, or anything colorful and creative. I think I’ve tried everything. My mom had me take painting classes when I was in high school. I was also talented in the area of physics. Anyway, long story short, at university, I chose to study physics, which I found to be very maths intensive. This was back in the days before most people had home computers. In my first year of university, I took a programming course, and I loved it. I changed my major to computer science. In my fourth year, I took a computer graphics course that taught me about fractals. The use of maths and computing to produce images and natural shapes blew my mind. I was hooked. Around 1998, computer games were just becoming noticed in universities as a viable degree. I put together the first games degree for the University of Southern Queensland. After this, I taught game development at several other universities. I researched and taught my way to the professor level but found that the higher in academia I went, the further removed from teaching the students I became. So in 2017, I decided to quit my tenured university job and take the leap into developing and selling courses online. I am extremely passionate about teaching students, especially beginners, how computer science, games, and mathematics are a creative combo. My students motivate me, especially when they have that ‘a-ha’ moment during my courses and then take the skills I’ve given them to the next level on their own.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I guess just having a business. I’ve been doing this for five years now, and I still don’t think I’ve got any business sense at all. I keep doing what I love, and the business just rolls along. I have had 140K+ students go through my courses. Each and every student I can help in their educational journey, and love of games development and mathematics is an accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Doing the actual business stuff. Accounting, marketing, budgeting, etc. So basically, I don’t do this. I do what I am good at, and I have an accountant who looks after the books and tax and Adrian Devlin and Lee Harris, who make me look good by helping with tutoring, content editing, testing, social media, and marketing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do what you do best and outsource the rest.
- Just do it; otherwise, you never will. Take ‘action.’ No amount of planning in the world will produce results unless you act.
- Develop thick skin. Put yourself out there. There will be resistance. There will be trolls. But always remember, whatever the critics say, it's you doing it and not them. Graciously say ‘thank you’ for any criticism. If it's useful, take it onboard; if it is not, forget it.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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