Meet Danner Taylor, a 27 year old student, entrepreneur, and winner of the 2021 Cayman Enterprise Business Design Competition. Danner leads an extremely busy life consisting of a full-time job, completing a Master’s degree in Finance, all the while studying at the Cayman Code Academy, and running new company BizHub with his two business partners.
Before we dive into the interview, tell us a bit about yourself Danner.
I was born in Colombia and moved to the Cayman Islands at the age of 11 with my mum.
I started off playing football (soccer) for the Cayman National football team but then moved to Florida to study for my Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management. Whilst there, I realised my passion for finance and accounting, so graduated with a Bachelor in Sports Management and Minor in Finance. When I returned to Cayman, I wanted to develop my knowledge in finance, so I started working at Fidelity Bank, now Proven Bank as well as pursuing an online Masters in Finance at Arden University. On top of this, I am one of the founders of BizHub, which I started in 2021 alongside my business partners Kirk Douglas and Valery Davis.
So, from 9 till 5, you work in the bank whilst running Bizhub and studying at night - that sounds very full on!
Yeah, it keeps me busy and it's fun at times. There are ups and downs, but it's part of the journey. When I’m not working or studying, you’ll find me spending time with family, friends and my significant other.
How did you first come into contact with Enterprise Cayman?
I first came into contact through one of the many programmes they host - The Business Design Competition, I had a business idea for a Tech company which I shared with my friend and now business partner, Kirk Douglas. He introduced me to Enterprise Cayman and convinced me to enter the Business Design Competition which we later went on to win with our partner Valery Davis.
As the founder of a Tech company, I thought I should probably enhance my knowledge, so that’s when I enrolled in another Enterprise Cayman programme, The Cayman Code Academy. Cayman Enterprise City, kindly offered me a scholarship which I greatly appreciate. I enjoyed the 101 Introduction and I decided to continue pursuing to 401, the final course.
How was your experience of the Business Design Competition?
It was a great experience! I learned so much that I’ve applied to both my entrepreneurial career and day-to-day job. The Design Weekend was particularly valuable where we heard from experts in different areas such as marketing and finance. We were paired with a fantastic mentor, Adam Lambert (special economic zone community member) who we’ve learned so much from. The networking events were invaluable; we met lots of people who gave us advice as well as potential partners for our business.
After winning the competition, we joined Enterprise Cayman's Launch Lab incubator programme which helped us scale the business. This experience taught us how to pitch to investors and develop areas within business. We were paired with another mentor named Dave Stone, who we continue to liaise with. Since then, we’ve had our foot on the gas promoting the business. We recently completed our commercial from one of the packages we won during the competition. So that's something that we are looking forward to!
How long have you been undertaking courses at the Cayman Code Academy? Can you tell me about your journey and how you’ve found the experience?
Since starting my first software development course in April 2022, I've progressed through several levels of learning. I began with a one-day 101 workshop and continued with the more in-depth, self-paced 102 course. The 201 provided a strong foundation of software and web development through live lectures followed by practical ‘lab’ sessions and ended with a team-based development project.
This course was a turning point for me, as I learned the importance of understanding how a computer thinks in order to program effectively. I realised it’s fast paced, and you cannot afford to miss any sessions because they are very technical subjects. I didn’t feel prepared for the final project, so I repeated the course before continuing to 301. Here, we focused on front-end and back-end communication, server creation using APIs, and libraries like Bootstrap.
401 allows you to specialise in a programming language. I’ve chosen Python for data analytics, which aligns with my careers in finance and software development. Although challenging, the experience has been very worthwhile, and I hope to receive my certificate in August.
What advice do you give future students that are interested to join the CCA, the business design competition or any other of the Enterprise Cayman initiatives?
I’d say give it a shot! I've had people say to me, “Hey, I have this business idea, should I join the competition? Is my idea good enough?” Just give it a go because it's not necessarily about winning the prize. It's about the resources they provide during the competition. Even if you only have a concept, they can help you with ideation and creating your MVP. I would strongly recommend applying for the Launch Lab, which is a tremendous resource as well.
If you're thinking about pivoting your career into a tech-oriented industry, or want to know more about software development, I would say most definitely sign up for the Cayman Code Academy.
People may say you can learn software development by yourself online. However, not only do you need commitment, but you also need to know what to learn, and that's the difficult part. The Cayman Code Academy is an amazing curriculum that teaches you step by step. It gives you real life experience with the chance to develop code daily and understand the process from a professional standpoint. This is what sets the Cayman Code Academy apart from free courses and in some cases, a 4-year degree!
And do you see a future of Technology in Cayman?
Yes, I definitely see a future here! I’d say Cayman is a bit behind other Caribbean countries right now, however I believe we have the potential to advance further, especially with the initiatives that Enterprise Cayman have in place to inspire younger generations to start a career in tech.
Another great initiative from Enterprise Cayman and Cayman Enterprise City is their Tech Talk series. The last one I attended was about Chat GPT AI Technology. It's part of our 401 curriculum - they're teaching us how we can leverage the program to help us streamline our coding process. I even use it in my 9 to 5 job as it really saves time!
Obviously you've got a lot on your plate at the moment, but what is next for you?
Whilst juggling my job, studies, and business, I'm trying to pivot my 9-5 career from traditional finance to fintech, where I'm seeing opportunities created.
I enjoy giving back to the community; I used work with the YMCA and was a football coach for Elite SC Under 18s, many of whom were disadvantaged kids. Unfortunately, I had to step down due to all my commitments. In the future, I’d like to go back to helping these kids, not only through sport, but also by introducing them to Tech. I want to help them understand the opportunities it can provide and how fun it can be!
It sounds like you're a great role model, especially with everything you're juggling.
Thank you Danner, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you! Feeling inspired by Danners story? Spend a day with us online to find out if a career in tech is right for you! Register Today.