It was not until the end of my first year in college that I decided that I would become an entrepreneur. My entire life, I had hopes of becoming a civil engineer. As time progressed, the desire to own my own business (and be my own boss) haunted me night and day. I could not shake the feeling and before long, I didn’t want anything else but to become an entrepreneur. Of course, family and friends discouraged me, as it has rarely provided a sustainable source of income. But I was confident that I would be successful at it. So I held my ground. I started my journey as an entrepreneur right after I graduated from college in 2004. With a degree in Math and Physics and no knowledge or experience in running a business, I struggled to make ends meet.
I started several businesses that failed miserably. However, in 2009, I teamed up with my brother Kendoyll Simpson, and co-founded Belizean Artwork Publishing. This is a publishing company that publishes books and CD’s for local Belizean artists. This business came out of our love for music and the arts, since both my brother and I are musicians. The business was sustainable and we kept producing new materials to expand.
In 2011, I met a crossroad in my journey when my son was diagnosed with autism. It was during this challenge that I taught myself to develop websites, computer games and mobile apps, to help him academically and socially.
I remember clearly one afternoon, after the diagnosis, I was observing my son. He was trying to tell me something, but his speech was not developing, it was a lot of babbling. He was already 3 years old and the only word he could say audibly was “yes”.
While observing him, I noticed that his mouth was opening and closing, but he was not moving his lips to form the words. It was very frustrating to him, not being able to explain himself and what he wanted and his tantrums were the only outlet he had… and these tantrums were really bad. I could not take him anywhere. I was the single mom who did not know what she was doing, with a “devil child”.
I didn’t have the money to get my son speech therapy, and for the first time in my life, I started to question my journey as an entrepreneur. Should I stay the course? Or do I walk away for something more secure for me and my son? Seems like my parents were right after all. I felt so sick, I didn’t know what to do. So that night, I asked God to show me where to apply my faith, so that I can help my son to cope with his condition.
The following day the idea came to me to use the camera on my cellphone, to record my mouth, while saying my son’s name, his age and other words that he might need to use in conversations at his age.
I was on to something. I felt alive! I was seeing progress. Not only was he saying words, but I noticed that his tantrums became less. I started to ask him questions like “What is your name?” and “What is your age?” and I would record our little Q&A session on my cellphone.
What I noticed was that any question that had the word “name” in it, he would respond with his own name. I realize that he was only processing the word “name” in the question, and not the question itself. I realized that I had to quickly come up with a solution that could help him to visualize the variations in different questions that used the same words. That’s when the idea came to me to develop a computer game to help him see the variations.
I have a degree in Science with a major in Math and Physics, to make matters worse, I had never had a formal computer class in my life (up to this day). I asked God once more to show me where to start, and it took me about 4 weeks to teach myself to develop flash games in Adobe Flash Professional. I started with a very simple game, and I kept developing it.
Since then, I have created several businesses selling computer games, mobile apps and developing websites. The new skill that was developed from finding a solution to my personal challenges, has afforded my son and I a great life. In fact, I was able to accomplish all this while remaining debt free. Thanks be to God!
I have gained a great deal of recognition in Belize, the Caribbean and other parts of the world for my work in developing educational software to assist students preparing for standardized exams, among other businesses and digital brands. I now help entrepreneurs as a digital media consultant. I help them design their dream life and business by leveraging the power of digital media and automation.
And the Journey Continues…
I was selected as one of four winners in Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC), Innovative Women Entrepreneurs Competition.
I was also selected to participate in the African Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable. Many of the Roundtable’s participants were profiled in a booklet that was distributed at the Forum. I was also featured in the Women Entrepreneurs booklet that featured insights from 23 of the most inspiring women entrepreneurs, who are all developing innovative new products for the mobile, education, clean technology, retail and media sectors. See Women Entrepreneurs Booklet. You can also see my entire interview in a video of the African Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable.
I received $7,000US from the Taiwanese government to continue to develop G.A.M.E. Prep program.
I was one of twelve women to be featured in the photographic Milestone Exhibition. The exhibition captured the lifetime achievements of twelve women in Belize. Of the twenty-one women nominated for the exhibition, Tiffany is the youngest.
I launched the Speaking Autism program. This is an organization that creates personalized learning apps for children with autism. My son Jayden Simpson, (who is autistic) has stepped up to be the spokes person for the organization. He also started a YouTube channel, which he will launch April 2016, showcasing the apps, and interviewing members of the program to showcase how the program can help children just like him to cope with autism.
I launched the Read With Me Club, which creates custom reading apps for children in primary school. The reading apps are available for both mobile devices as well a PC. Club members also benefit from having access to each other’s custom reading apps.
A life long dream has come true. I helped my son start his new business, The Games Space. He is a Youtube-er/Gamer and Brand Ambassador for companies who want a voice among the digital millennials and children with special learning needs. This is a special milestone for us, because he is now becoming independent and his confidence in his ability to read and express himself shows.