Author: Adiki Puplampu
Date: 08 December 2023
Clavis Studio is a 3D design and rendering platform with business tools that help design professionals grow their business. Adetoun Abby Aiyeleye is Clavis Studio’s Co-CEO for Execution and leads product development, partnership, and business development.
Abby co-founded Clavis Studio with Ayo Aiyeleye to redefine the approach to design using Artificial Intelligence and immersive 3D technology. Her goal is to drive tech adoption in traditional or less predictable sectors and promote a tech-driven economy by creating jobs and expanding global market access for Clavis-powered businesses.
Abby’s lived experiences, intersectional lens, and qualifications continue to fuel her drive to deliver undeniably fit-for-purpose products, and this is reflected in her multiple honors and awards.
Some of Abby’s notable recognitions include: Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal Recipient (2023), DMZ Women of the Year (2022), Winner of the 2022 Alberta Business Award of Distinction, 2022 Winner of Creative Citizen’s Startup of the Year, and 2021 Winner of Start Alberta’s Most Promising Startup Entrepreneur of the Year.
She contributes to the ecosystem through board and volunteer positions including: VP of Alberta Network of Immigrant Women, Innovation Growth Council Member at Edmonton Unlimited, Ambassador Board Member at The A100+, and Masterclass Instructor/Mentor for Black Startup Founders.
This year Abby and Clavis Studio hosted an ELITE Program intern and Abby sat down with us to discuss her first year supporting an intern from the ELITE Program.
Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did Clavis Studio initially learn about the ELITE Program and what made you want to get involved as an internship host?
I think I may have initially seen it on LinkedIn. There was an article about it, and I looked into the program. I was going to participate last year, but we were just about to launch some new features, so we had a lot going on and I didn’t want to bring someone on board that I couldn’t mentor and support. I’ve mentored ladies in the WISEST program at the U of A and aspiring founders in tech because that’s always been my passion. I want to get more women in STEM. I want to get more Black women in STEM and really, I’ve always pushed for having Black students, Black women, Black anyone to have more access to what they need to grow and to really bring their full self to the table.
What project has your intern been working on and what’s the significance of the work for Clavis Studio?
The biggest thing for us was that Tayla came at a great time. We were evaluating the performance of some of our pages on the website and some of the products that we have up, and we realized that there wasn’t strong engagement and that was in her skills. We wanted to build interaction and that’s what she did. Over time, a lot of the pages on the website will change based on designs that Tayla created. She’s working closely with our full stack developer to create designs to ensure the best user experience. She’s also helped to build landing pages for customer engagement when we go to events and conferences.
What we didn’t even know she could do until she started was that she’s an awesome 3D Modeler. In our shop, we’re going to roll out the ability for you to view a product in your room via AR and she’s the one that has been modeling the furniture and accessories for you to be able to view pieces in your space.
Overall, what’s been your experience of being an internship host and what would you say to another organization thinking about submitting a project and taking on an ELITE Program intern?
I have absolutely enjoyed having someone join us from ELITE. I love that you have programs in different fields. I listened to the Zoom recording [of the presentation workshop] and I noticed that all the students had different fields of study which is awesome. And the past three months with Tayla have helped us to really grow by leaps and bounds. One of the conferences that we just concluded, Collision Conference, she put together the collateral for that conference. The graphics, the ads we put on the landing page, she worked on all of that for us, for that conference to be successful. We met VCs there, we met potential strategic partners, as a result of her direct work on the collateral.
We’ve engaged Tayla for future internship opportunities and that’s just because she’s done such great work. Now, my advice to other companies, especially start-ups, is to go for it. Get those students, they’re smart, they know what the future of work looks like. I love the idea of having a lot of young folks at Clavis Studio and we just listen to what they say because they know what the future looks like, and they can build for it.
As an employer, and specifically an employer in the tech space, what advice do you have for students who want to break into entrepreneurship or tech?
I think the first obviously is to know your skills and get support. It’s a lonely road if you’re a sole founder and trying to build things by yourself in your own little bubble. I know that organizations like Edmonton Unlimited help connect new people and founders.
Get support from the community, attend events, hear what people are doing. I remember when we were thinking about starting Clavis Studio, we attended a U of A Demo Day event just to see what’s out there and see people we could participate and collaborate with. So, don’t go through the journey alone.
Within the context of business and tech specifically, in your opinion, what’s the significance of a program like the ELITE Program particularly for Black youth interested in entering these spaces?
I cannot tell you enough how important it is for us to have programs like ELITE. When I was in university, and I studied in the UK, there were opportunities for students to participate in opportunities to get the right jobs after school. But it wasn’t an even playing field. I know a few friends that graduated and got those sought after Morgan Stanley Jobs and I just didn’t, and we all performed well enough. So having programs like ELITE is so important.
I’m a first-generation Canadian working to build a foundation for the future generation because research shows that second and third generation Canadians struggle more with bi or tri cultural identities, valuable social capital, and career growth. Black second and third generation Canadians, in particular, struggle with fitting into society, excelling in the right career, and thriving economically. And that’s just because they’re not given the opportunities to be in spaces where they can build their careers and build their future. So, ELITE is a great way for that gap to be breached. I hope more universities and organizations join the ELITE Program to grow the program across Canada.