Arjun Kumar, BVG ’03, spent his first year at Bayview Glen at the School’s original location in the valley, where he remembers ducks and woodland animals on the campus. “Then we moved to the new campus,” he says, “and Mrs. Daunt was my Grade 1 teacher and really the first person to have a big impression on my life.” He laughs and recalls being in awe of the Crystal Staircase – the glass-enclosed stairwell near the Parent Bench. “We Lower School students were not allowed to use it back then and it was a rite of passage to become an Upper School student and use the Crystal Staircase!”
Arjun’s most memorable teacher was Kevin Neville, his grade 5 teacher. “Mr. Neville had a big impact on me and all his students, and he hasn’t changed! Not only has he not aged, he still has the passion and excitement in his eyes that he had all those years ago,” says Arjun. “He was the first teacher who made us feel that he was there for us, not just as an authority figure, but as someone who was there to support you while you learned, both in and out of the classroom.” Mentorship is something Arjun feels had a huge impact on his success and mentions that Mr. Neville was his first real mentor, even though neither of them may have realized it at the time.
As a youngster, Arjun was not the most gifted athlete. He was unsuccessful with his first attempt trying out for a Bayview Glen soccer team. He remembers the athletic director at the time sat him down and encouraged him to work on his skills and fitness. Arjun became incredibly determined to improve due to this vote of confidence, ultimately going on to play on 15 Bayview Glen teams, winning three Most Valuable Player awards. By Grade 12, he was Captain of the Senior Boys Soccer Team. “Sports have become a bit of an obsession with me, and I still play soccer four nights a week in Toronto and it is was my opportunity at Bayview Glen that really got me to this point,” says Arjun.
Determination to succeed fuelled Arjun’s passion for business. For many years, he dreamed of becoming a physician, and he was always interested in technology. “I had my first computer class at BVG in Grade 3 and it was quite rare at the time; BVG was definitely ahead of the curve,” says Arjun. “My mother bought me a computer in 1994 and out of my class of 40 students, there were just two of us who had computers at home. Having access to computer classes at Bayview Glen at that young an age really allowed us to do wonders with the computers at home.”
Arjun studied computer programming in Grade 11 and 12 at BVG before graduating and attending the University of Toronto. “I studied Human Biology at the UofT, planning to follow in my father’s footsteps and pursue a medical degree,” says Arjun, “but what surprised me was discovering the world of opportunities available due to my comfort level with technology and the diversity of learning that I acquired at BVG. There are so many options beyond becoming a doctor, engineer, or lawyer, and it turned out I had developed the skill set to do much more.”
Fate stepped in, when Arjun’s grandfather was travelling in Florida and suddenly needed access to his medical records. Frustrated by the red tape involved in obtaining and faxing the documents, Arjun came up with the idea of the now patented, microchip-enabled smartcards that are encrypted with comprehensive personal health records, and his first company, Kela Medical, was born. Recently, the company has spun off another business called KAI Innovations and is one of only 13 companies in Ontario that is certified to provide electronic medical-records implementation services to private health-care practices. KAI Innovations in its first year has seen tremendous growth, obtaining over 100 clients in its first nine months, a rate that only publicly traded companies in the sector have been able to realize. In 2011 and again in 2013, Arjun was selected as one of the Top 20 Under 30 by Profit Magazine. What’s more, Kela Medical was listed on the Profit HOT 50 list for 2013 as it was ranked the 26th fastest-growing company in Canada.
“Honestly, I could not have achieved any of this success without raw skills I learned outside the classroom thanks to the opportunities at Bayview Glen. My leadership skills were acquired through the sports programs and the Outward Bound experiences, things that I wouldn’t have done on my own at the time,” says Arjun. “I don’t claim to be smarter than anyone else but I do know how to take charge when I need to and think very fast on my feet. That is really what I picked from the environment of Bayview Glen and the encouraging teachers.” Over the years, Arjun participated in three Outward Bound trips. He went canoeing in Grade 9, participated in a winter wilderness trip in Grade 10, and then travelled to Algonquin Park in Grade 11.
“On that Grade 10 trip we slept in the snow without a tent, just a tarp hung from a tree. My friends today still are amazed when I tell them the stories,” recalls Arjun, laughing at the memory. “My takeaway from all those Outward Bound experiences was I do not break as easily as I thought I would. Actually, I ended up buying an Alaskan Malamute because of that Grade 10 trip and the great experience we had dog sledding with the breed. I named my dog Kela and she kept me company through the long hours at night I spent on the computer building the business in the early days. I guess that’s why when I was doing my incorporation and needed a name, she was my first thought – and I named the company after her!”
When asked how he felt about obtaining a $10M valuation in his latest round of capital raising, Arjun replied, “That’s great, but entrepreneurship is not about making money, it’s about making the world a better place. I am determined to reduce the 24,000 deaths a year that are attributed to missing or incomplete medical records. My staff is just as passionate as I am about this. Everyone on the team is under 30 and we have all grown light years in the three years we have been working together. Personally, I have no desire to achieve great wealth and leave a trail of disgruntled people in my wake – I want to create jobs and a company I can call my own. I want to take my employees along with me for the ride so that all of their futures can be bright. Every one of my employees has stock options in the company and each of them is involved in making it a success.” After just three years, Arjun already employs 15 people and is always looking for talent to expand.
“Bayview Glen gave me the foundation that made it possible to achieve what I have in such a short period of time,” says Arjun. “ I will always be grateful to this school for giving me that strong base of learning and the opportunity to diversify my abilities which is paying off today beyond my wildest dreams.”
Bayview Glen is proud to include Arjun Kumar amongst our Notable Alumni.