What’s better than kids playing with robots and video games? Kids building them. That’s the goal of Douglas Academy, a Canadian Training Centre focused on teaching children applicable science and technology that could one day shape their careers. We were fortunate enough to speak with co-founder Mr. Douglas about his after school program and how he uses Billy to grow his business.
BillyApp: What brought you to start your training program?
Mr. Douglas: I have four boys and I was always busy working at a software company. I wanted to spend more time with them and bring robotics and IoT (Internet of Things) home; get them away from their iPads and Playstations. So I started bringing home little robots for them to assemble, which became a big interest for my kids. They jumped right in, started learning, and then they started to bring their friends to play and learn.
The interest kept growing and eventually the kids’ school gave me a class to teach for free. Surprisingly, too many people came demanding the class for their kids! The response was big and it was too hard for the school itself to manage. We wanted to add more classes but the school wasn’t equipped for that. So I branched out and that’s how it started. Now we have four classes in two different locations in the Toronto area (based in Mississauga), and we have plans to expand to other cities.
BA: It’s obvious how these STEM skills will enrich the children. What do you see happening in the classrooms?
MD: A lot of creativity. When we started, I gave plenty of guidelines on how to build robots in certain ways. Now that the kids have the tools and equipment, they’re creating and programming without much guidance. They’re building walking robots, talking robots, it’s pretty incredible.
Another goal of the program is to get them to think and act like scientists. We actually take them through the scientific process, and the children have to present to their peers as a scientist once they build a robot. This helps their public speaking skills, and they have to write scientific reports as well. They’re learning all these practical real-world skills, but they love creating things so much that they don’t even think about it that way.
A couple weeks ago, I posted a video of a student on our Facebook page who created a rover that he claims can drill into the moon and bring back moon rocks! Very creative and imaginative. All these kids are very ambitious.
BA: What brought you to using Billy?
I want something that I can understand without putting in effort. I want to run my business, not deal with accounting.
MD: I’ve been using Quickbooks for many, many years; and to be honest, it was because of my accountant. He was on it so he wanted me to be on it too. But I found Quickbooks too difficult to use on a day-to-day basis. I needed my accountant at every single step! Posting invoices, posting an expense; I’m a techy guy myself and it was too difficult for me. So I saw an AppSumo deal and decided to try Billy out. It stressed how easy it is for freelancers and that was the trigger for me. I want something that I can understand without putting in effort. I want to run my business, not deal with accounting.
I showed Billy to my accountant. He wanted me to stay on Quickbooks, but when I gave him a username to check out my account, he understood. Now he uses Billy with me.
BA: How has Billy impacted your business?
If I don’t understand my numbers, I don’t understand my business. With Billy, everything is clear and easy.
MD: I’m getting a lot of value from Billy, especially when it comes to invoicing. My customers are busy parents and they don’t want to deal with complicated things. Their feedback is that Billy’s invoices are beautiful and the customer portal is really easy for them to use. End of the day, I want something easy to deal with for both parties.
With Quickbooks, I have no clue when I open it. I have no clue what these numbers are. And if I don’t understand my numbers, I don’t understand my business. With Billy, everything is clear and easy. I’m in a comfort zone now because I know my numbers.
Thanks for the interview! For more information about Douglas Academy and the scientific programs it offers, check out the website today!