Evil Twin's Mark Carroll has realised a dream of working with young people who stammer. His company's most recent project is The Stammurai - an iPhone app made entirely by the young people under Mark's tuition. The app had nearly 1,000 downloads in its first 3 weeks.
BSA Chair Leys Geddes asked Mark what it's like having a stammer and running a business. 'Well, it would be more accurate to say that I have a business because I have a stammer! Yes, it has hindered me at times, but it's all too easy to look at the negatives. It actually helps me to listen attentively and pay more attention to facial expressions and body language. It can disarm difficult clients, for example if I block in a meeting, then I'm very open about my stammer - and this often prompts a reply of "No need to apologise, take your time", which can take the sting out of situations'.
But what about the day-to-day demands of running a business? 'Running my own business makes it easier to take control of my day. So I can minimise those situations in which I might feel uncomfortable. And I delegate! For example, I'm not good on the phone, so it's no big deal if someone else makes the calls. Some may argue that I'm running away, but everyone has to play to their strengths: would you get someone who is no good at numbers to do your company's budgets?'
And how will developments in software affect the lives of people who stammer? 'Email has helped me a lot but, ironically, it's best for Evil Twin to encourage wider and more frequent use of video calls, using software such as Skype. And, maybe paradoxically, when this type of technology is used more often, then conversations will be easier, because we can see the person and make eye contact - and they can see us too, so they won't hang up just because there is a short period of silence!'
What's Evil Twin's next big project? 'It's a bit of a secret but, as these kinds of resources become more accessible and more mobile, I hope that non-stammerers will see more of us. At the same time, we will have more instant tools at our disposal to help us get through tricky situations...'
From the Autumn 2010 issue of 'Speaking Out', p5