Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in software development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ash Misquith, Founder of SwiftGrade, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

SwiftGrade is an innovative test grading app that saves teachers' time by allowing them to grade handwritten tests with their phone's camera!
A stack of tests that normally would take a test over 1 hour to grade can now be done in under 40 seconds. You can see us on Dragons' Den (Canada's version of Sharks Tank) here:

Our target customers are any Educators that do assessments - such as teachers and professors.

Tell us about yourself

Like many entrepreneurs, the idea of SwiftGrade came about by trying to solve a pain point in my own life - not by the desire to start a company. As a former Physics teacher, I found it tedious to manually grade test after test, and after doing some digging, I saw an opportunity to make life easier not only for myself but also for other fellow teachers. From there, it grew and grew into the company and team we are today.

These days, I am motivated by many things:

  • The challenge and desire to be successful and build something meaningful.
  • The fact is that over time, the company becomes your baby, and you invest so much of yourself into it. You want to see it thrive and will do all it takes to make that happen.
  • Lastly, to just see it through and know that at the end of the day, you gave it your all!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would say the thing I am the proudest of is that so far, I have been able to take the idea and vision that was in my head, and put it into a real product that works well, is saving teachers time, and is making a real difference in Education which is such an important part of humanity. For complex products, this is difficult as you have to translate your vision into other people's minds who are helping you execute the product, so I am proud that I was able to execute this and continue to do so.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner is incredibly hard but also can be incredibly rewarding. The hardest things I would say are:

  • Often, you are all alone on the journey - and almost no one will realize the true amount of work, attention to detail, and complexity that goes into it except yourself.
  • It truly can take up all of your time and energy.
  • You feel like you are an octopus doing so many high-stake tasks at once - all the time - without a break.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

My first tip is that there is no one way to do it and no magic bullet. You hear advice from some of the most successful people who have 'made it and can see tons of examples of other people who did the opposite - and it worked for them. You just need to see the options, find the best way for you and your company, and pivot if needed.

My second tip is that it will generally be a lot harder than you think and that, like being an athlete, you need to consistently show up and push yourself daily to meet your goals. You need to be relentless and have the strength to persevere.

My last tip is to either be 'All in' and do things right, or don't do it at all. I don't mean be all in and quit your job and invest your life savings. I just mean mentally, if you want to do it, then truly dot every T and cross every I and prepare as best as you can to succeed - otherwise, it will be really tough to make it.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I truly admire all other entrepreneurs following their dreams and goals - and I wish you all the success in the world!

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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