The original interview can be found here.
Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brian Aspinall, Founder of Code Breaker Inc., located in Harrow, ON, Canada.
What’s your business, and who are your customers?
Code Breaker Inc. began in 2010 as an educational consulting business with myself as owner and operator. I started consulting with local school boards, and as the need for professional development in the area of coding and computational thinking grew, my consulting moved to a national level and then international.
Since its inception, Code Breaker Inc. has become a consulting and publishing powerhouse in the education space. Offering professional development from an array of backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and climates, and providing quality leadership, consulting, keynotes, and workshops, the company embodies its mission statement in every way. “Breaking code isn’t just about programming; it is about disrupting the status quo. It is about challenging social norms. It is about having critical conversations. It is about challenging systematic beliefs. It is about educating the whole child – mind, body, and soul.”
Tell us about yourself
As an elementary educator holding a degree in computer science, I sought to highlight the importance of exposing young people to the principles of coding and computational thinking to prepare them for their rapidly changing future. In 2015 I made a move to higher education, where I teach teachers at the Faculty of Education at various universities across the province.
I published my first book, Code Breaker, in 2017. In 2019 Block Breaker was released. That same year, I had an idea for a children’s book, Think Like a Coder, which I ultimately decided to publish under the Code Breaker brand later that year. The publishing arm of Code Breaker Inc. was born.
Our mission is to engage students and amplify the voices of passionate educators who believe that all students can achieve if given a fair chance.
What’s your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In 2016 I received the Canadian Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for my work with coding and computational thinking. I’ve since been able to travel the globe speaking and leading professional development programs that inspire educators to create curious, seeking individuals in classrooms built on a community of trust, risk-taking, and a freedom to fail. I’ve been lucky enough to travel across my own province and country. I’ve been invited to speak in Hawaii, Budapest, and, most recently, Alaska.
What’s one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In 2020, I saw my consulting business come to a complete standstill as the world faced a global pandemic. On March 13th, 2020, as I sat in Michigan awaiting my keynote at MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) to begin, schools across the globe closed their doors, forcing a massive shift in how education and professional development would be delivered for the foreseeable future.
Code Breaker Inc. had to pivot to survive. I took on my first publishing project outside the children’s book space with Staying Grounded by Dr. Michael Hynes. At the end of 2020, Code Breaker Inc. published 20 books between our Leadership Series and Kid Collection.
What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
In order to run a successful business, I had to always be aware of the changing landscape of education. Business owners need to know what their consumers need now and what they will need as our world evolves.
I needed to be able to use failures and roadblocks as opportunities to learn and grow. When something doesn’t go as planned, I need to be able to step back and identify what needs to change in order to move forward.
Business owners need to be able to pivot on a dime.