YEDaily: Andrew Spinner

Andrew Spinner’s business, Pick My Class, launched in 2012, and has been a huge work in progress since the summer of 2010 when he wrote the business plan while studying for his CA exams. What advice does he have for other young professionals? Find out in today’s YEDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Pick My Class is a Canadian registered charity crowdfunding website that connects public school teachers with donors, enabling teachers to fund their classroom project ideas. 100% of donations go to the classroom projects of your choice, and donors get tax receipts for their contributions!

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
My mother has been an incredible public school teacher since I was a little kid, and continues to be today. She always had creative and innovative ideas for her classroom, but always had to fund them out of pocket. When I started my professional career in Toronto, I realized the more teachers that I interacted with, the more I learned that they were paying for tons of school supplies out of their own pocket too. I tried finding resources to help them, and after not finding much, I thought I would create a solution that would help my mother and the other inspiring teachers.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of Pick My Class is interacting with the teachers. They teach because they have a passion for what they do. The fulfilment they receive is purely based on their students, which they work tirelessly to educate. I really admire what they do, and hearing their stories, reading their project ideas, and hearing their excitement when the supplies come in the mail puts a huge smile on my face.

The most challenging part is similar to that faced by most internet businesses: getting exposure.  Anyone browsing the projects on the site can find something to relate to. Maybe the school is in the city you grew up in. Maybe a project is based on teaching students a subject that was your favourite.  Or maybe a project just hits a soft spot, and you just want to help. We just need to get you on the website.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
My goal is to make a big splash across Canada, and ensure teachers in the smallest communities know they have a resource to help them. What’s fascinating about a web-based operation is that it may take five years, or happen over a few days.

What does success look like to you?
I feel success should be defined up front, and then you can work your way backwards to determine how to achieve it. For me personally, success is leaving the world a little bit better of a place than when I found it.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Getting my CA designation was like finishing a wildly long obstacle course, and something I am very proud of. However, Pick My Class ran a pilot with three projects from across Canada in May, 2012.  The moment that first project was funded was extremely rewarding. At that point, Pick My Class came to fruition.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Pursue your passion when the time is right.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I love to help friends doing great things, and rarely turn down someone looking to raise funds for a bike ride, run or moustache. The various cancer foundations that they support are important to me, as I have had many friends and family that have been affected by cancer, including my mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.

What is Notable to you?
I think of being unique, and the only way to be unique is to challenge the status quo. You need to be able to embrace a challenge and eliminate the noise.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I recently took the plunge and got an iPhone,after years with a Blackberry.  It’s pretty awesome so far.  However, I will be watching BB10 pretty closely. Hoping for big things from RIM!

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Jogging, spinning, and basketball. But my one secret would be to get a good night’s sleep!