Meet Neria Aylward, founder of Well Rounded Academy and recipient of Founders Fund’s Ideation Stage, $1,000 fund:
Who is Neria Aylward?
Neria Aylward (she/her) is a researcher turned activist and social entrepreneur advocating for decarbonization, decolonization and social justice in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Neria champions community-led development as a Board member of the Merrymeeting Co-operative, an accessible co-creation space for artists and activists. She also offers feisty and frank admissions and scholarship advice through her consultancy, Well-Rounded Academy. Neria holds a B.A from the University of Cambridge and an MPhil from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
What is the ultimate vision that you have for Well-Rounded Academy?
I hope that Well-Rounded Academy becomes a community for students who want more from their careers than a comfortable salary and an impressive title. My students want and deserve so much more than that - they want to serve their communities, follow their interests, and forge their own paths.
I also hope that one day I learn how to use my accounting software and get over my fear of writing my weekly email to my mailing list.
When asked “What are things about yourself or your business that you were told has to change in order to fit into the traditional mould of a successful entrepreneur? How have you begun to overcome them?” Neria responded:
I always thought that being an entrepreneur was all-or-nothing - that you either were one or you weren’t. I always assumed, needless to say, that I was the latter one.
I know that this sounds cliché, but since joining the Founders Fund, I’ve realized that entrepreneurs (and their businesses) really come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve realized that I don’t have to quit my day job right away, and that I can prioritize social impact over maximizing profit. I’m learning to be comfortable with growing my business at my own pace - but also to start putting myself and the service I offer out there, even before it’s “perfect.”
Basically, I’m learning that I don’t have to change to be a successful entrepreneur - rather, that I can make entrepreneurship fit me.
Why did you decide to join the Founders Fund?
The first investment (no exaggeration!) that I made when I decided to start a business was a Founders’ Fund membership . I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship, but I saw myself and my social impact goals reflected in the Fund’s vision - and that gave me the sense of belonging I needed to get started.