Episode 1: Dorsh Deans, Founder of AIXA
What do you do when you have a dream and a passion for something you are pursuing and it falls apart? Do give up? Do go into a sunken place of depression? Or do you look for other opportunities?
From 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, this is Diverse Disruptors, a podcast about those leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers who found their own way to innovate and did so with inclusion and accessibility at the forefront. I'm Tarik Moody and welcome to the first episode of season one of the podcast. Before we get started with our first guest, I want to talk about turning failure into opportunity.
A couple of key attributes of a successful founder or entrepreneur is the ability to adapt and to take advantage of opportunities. To do this, one must not be afraid to take risks and think outside of the box. A good example of this involves the folks behind Slack, which was recently acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion.
You might be surprised that Slack didn’t start off as a communication tool. It was started as a game developer known as Tiny Speck, which made a multi-player game called Glitch. Tiny Speck hired 40 employees and received investments from Venture Capital to work on this game. Then 18 months later Glitch would cease to exist and would become a failure. The founder would have to lay off his employees and give refunds to customers. While developing Glitch, the team developed an internal tool to assist with communication. The founders saw an opportunity with this tool and started to work on developing it further into a full-fledged product, which most of you know now as Slack.
Turning failure and tragedy into an opportunity is also a major attribute of this week’s guest on Diverse Disruptors, Dorsh Deans. Deans was on his way to become a professional athlete until a tragic accident derailed his dreams. He didn’t let that stop him. He then pursued a successful career in music. It didn’t hurt that his grandfather was Eric Deans, the founder of the Eric Deans Orchestra, which played a role in revolutionizing the sound of reggae and ska, and later paved the way for bands like the Skatalites.
While pursuing music, Dorsh developed programming skills to help with the marketing of his music. And that when he saw an opportunity to even develop those skills further which led him not only to a career as a UX (user experience) architect but to use those skills in his music and teach others about UX with a product he called AXIA.
He even created an album inspired by UX called "UI/UX" released in 2020. But before we get into what AXIA is and his work in tech, let’s start with Dorsh’s childhood growing up in Houston with parents from Jamaica.