Lavine Hemlani | CEO and Founder of Xccelerate
I am standing by the coffee bar in a refreshingly bright co-working space. Everyone is dressed in jeans and sneakers, there is an abundance of nature and just about anything, from business to video games, is up for debate. That is why, when Lavine Hemlani, CEO and Founder of Xccelerate, walks into the room, he appears quite the misfit. He carries himself with a purpose. His sharp navy suit a nod to his Wall Street roots. Lavine leads me around the corner and suddenly, we are out of the start-up incubator and inside the brains of his ed-tech operation.
“Does this look like a classroom to you?” he asks with enthusiasm. At either end of the corridor, office cubicles are converted into learning hubs. Each is packed with over fifteen students coding away on their computer screens. But there is a noticeable difference. At Xccelerate, students of all ages and qualifications are welcome to sign-up for data science courses. You can almost feel their energy wafting through the glass walls. You can hear the animated chatter as students share their work.
You can tell, Lavine Hemlani is on the cusp of an education revolution.
Xccelerate Teaching an Organization
At the age of 22, Lavine’s life was coming together. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a prized investment banking role in hand. However, a year later, he decided to leave his six-figure paycheck for an adventure around the globe.
“All my life, I’ve been chasing external validation, chasing what I thought others wanted. I realised, at a certain point, everything I thought I wanted was really just manufactured outside of my natural energy.”
Mission meets business
Xccelerate is just one of many technology start-ups riding the fourth industrial revolution wave. What is unique to Xccelerate though, is its meteoric rise. In four years, the company has grown from just Lavine and a computer to a team of over 40 professionals. Lavine projects that in the next two years their headcount will surpass 200.
Lavine attributes his start-up’s success to its purpose-driven mission.
“I realised I didn’t want to be in a place where I just buy and sell stock. I wanted to be in a place where I was creating value in abundance for everyone: for society, for individuals, for companies and for governments.”
During his six-month sabbatical, he spent time building a school in Africa. The experience opened his eyes to the power of education. It not only filled him with a deep sense of joy, but it uncovered another piece to the puzzle that together would form the engine behind Xccelerate.
Lavine Hemlani Preparing a Strategy
Disrupting the education system
According to an Oxford Economics study, automation will displace 20 million manufacturing jobs in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. Rather than treating technology as a threat though, Lavine believes we can face the challenge by transforming the way we think about learning and development.
“Our education system is not preparing people for the future. We do not have anything to teach us how to be ready in a world of artificial intelligence and automation. In the real world, your job isn’t to pass an exam and be a robot, your job is to be a creator, to be a thinker.”
It is with this can-do attitude that Xccelerate is bridging the tech talent gap in Hong Kong. The company hopes to inspire a new generation of thinkers who are committed to upgrading their technical skills throughout their entire careers. When asked how to convince people of the importance of adaptability and growth, Lavine spoke about the power of leading by example.
“When people started seeing that they were able to enter more successful careers as a result of Xccelerate, that it’s not just the certificate that matters but the skills you employ to build things, then they started believing in their potential too.”
A Seminar Conducted by Xccelerate
Cruising into the future
When asked about the future of Xccelerate, Lavine has his sights set on being a publicly listed company. While it may sound like an ambitious target, Lavine is all but too aware of the tough journey that lies ahead.
“When I was younger, I wanted to go really fast, like a speedboat. But speedboats get hit by a lot of waves, and they can’t really survive in the open sea. But a cruise with a solid team can survive. It’s slower, but the question is, do you want to go far, or you want to go fast?”
Lavine wants to go far. However, he admits it took him a lot of personal development to reach that conclusion. His biggest challenge was letting go of his brainchild. Now that he has built a team around him, he can take a step back to focus on “creating multiple revenue streams that push each other forward.”
Despite his enormous success, Lavine tries to ground himself with a set of core values: truth, adventure and service. By acting as a role model of these values, he hopes to encourage the youth to discover their own truth.
“Learn to think for yourself, learn to ask questions, learn to understand the distinction between what society has manufactured and what the rules of nature have created that have lasted billions of years versus the last 100 years.”