Gordon Swaby has turned his passion for computers and the Internet, plus his desire to achieve the best at everything, into a career. Surprisingly, Swaby did not receive formal training in web design, but developed his skills from age 13.
Those skills evolved into a passion for web building to learning to build websites beginning with ROM sites. By January of 2005 at 15 years old, Swaby started his own website: advance-gamers.com, that grew to one of the largest gaming websites in the Caribbean.
"The initial intention was not to make money but to offer reviews to the gaming industry. So we would get a videogame, review it and keep it," Swaby said.
In 2005, he designed and completed a website for a Rotary club that rewarded him with cash and, by 2007 he was commissioned to do a real-estate website; he completed his own blog in 2006. The blog is gordonswaby.com. He has also designed websites for many institutions and started his own programming, concept and design company, Iconictouch.
At 21, the Holmwood Technical High School graduate is chief executive officer of Edu-Focal, an online social-learning platform started with a $5m bank loan and a partnership with two web developers who offered their services free for two years.
In August 2010, Swaby's cousin suggested starting an online social-learning company. Together, they worked on the idea, aiming to get the company registered and the site up. The cousin, however, pulled out to study, leaving Swaby on his own.
By November 2010, Edu-Focal was incorporated, and launched in March this year. "For a fee of $200 per month or $2,000 per year, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and the Grade Six Achievement Test students can register on Edu-Focal.
Swaby is passionate about entrepreneurship and declares, "I like creating opportunities for people; that's what drives me. My mantra is: 'always an employer, never an employee', "he said.
Edu-Focal, located at the Technology Innovation Centre, University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, markets itself through referral contests. It will be offering a $60,000 scholarship next year to the student in the system who consistently ranks number one on the leader board.
Swaby is in the final year of a BSc in Computer Engineering at UTech.