Caner Okan

Hold onto your dreams and keep going, even when you feel alone. Don’t let education, the economy, fear from past failures get in your way.


Caner is a network engineer and cryptocurrency investor. He designs socially minded tools using a digital platform to manage an ecosystem of payers, beneficiaries, technology companies, banks, government agencies, private corporations, and foundations with the intention to create efficient, sustainable, and scalable solutions to common obstacles facing society. Caner is a graduate of Halic University in Istanbul with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and hold a certificate in Information Technology from U.C. Santa Cruz.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

The idea for Morning Angel came to us in the summer of 2018 when the family separation policy and child detention center in Brownsville first made headlines. We were shocked, as parents we were horrified. After talking with community leaders who serve refugee children and families, we realized a deeper problem existed – access to reliable communication for people with limited English proficiency.

Language differences are a major barrier for people who are new to the U.S. and need to make multiple, complex decisions about their life.

As systems thinkers with humanitarian values, we decided to focus on addressing the shortage of language interpreters in health care first.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

From the moment I get up to the moment I fall asleep my mind is continually engaged in Morning Angel. I commute to my co-founder’s house a few times a week so we can meet in person, take meetings, and continue brainstorming. I mostly work from home at all hours of the day. I usually get up at 6 am and immediately start reading news on the economy, politics and technology. I spend a couple hours a day talking with people from different fields, learning about they’re strengths and struggles and looking for ways to collaborate or create more efficiencies in delivering language interpretation services.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Some people like to think about ideas for entertainment. I like to bring my ideas to life through collaboration. What I mean is, I look for opportunities that others often disregard as too complex. I know my own weaknesses and limitations, and I look for those strengths in other people as collaborators. As a network engineer, it’s easy for me to see intersections of multiple industries, stakeholders and professional disciplines. I like to think about ideas that are achievable and can make a deep impact in the best interest of humanity.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The value shift toward cooperation, global communication, and collaboration is a system thinker’s dream come true.

The world’s problems don’t exist in isolation. There are so many problems facing society that can’t be solved by any single government, industry, company or other institution alone. We’re going to need to collaborate if we’re going to effectively address the world’s largest problems.

I came to the U.S. in 2016 after living my entire life in Istanbul, Turkey. This experience has given me a unique perspective on the importance of communication and language barriers in particular. Slow and unstable economic growth, rising income inequality are big concerns in developed and developing countries. This is an opportunity for social progress. I firmly believe technology help us bridge the gap for all people struggling with limited second language proficiency.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m highly responsive to communication. It allows me to connect with people the moment they express interest and it allows me to build healthy professional relationships.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Hold onto your dreams and keep going, even when you feel alone. Don’t let education, the economy, fear from past failures get in your way.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Cryptocurrency is the future of money.

As a whole, around the world, there are few people invested in cryptocurrency. Crypto is still a fringe investment when compared to other investments.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay informed. Don’t isolate yourself from the world. Keep in touch with people, and stay up on current events.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Honesty is the best strategy for growing a business. Being honest sets expectations and builds trust. It also helps to establish healthy long term clients and partner relationships.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Failure is a funny word. It’s about mindset. Failure is usually an opportunity. It’s really in the eye of the beholder, rooted in perceptions. I experience setbacks all the time, but I don’t perceive them the same way I would if I got an “F” on a school exam. I choose to see setbacks as a work-in-progress rather than an all out failure.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Vending machines, parking meters, public transit tickets that use QR codes for payment.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Buying dinner one of our business advisors. Low stress environments give people to a sense of ease and allow conversations to flow. Talking to other professionals with a specific area of expertise, perhaps different life experiences but who have never tried to solve problems like the ones I’m addressing surfaces unique ideas and insights.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for a little less than three years. When I first came to the U.S., I knew no one, and I didn’t speak English. LinkedIn has been a tremendous help in creating a professional network of people with backgrounds very different from my own. It’s made meeting potential partners and clients easier in a way that wouldn’t be possible unless I joined dozens of professional associations. (What entrepreneur has time for that anyway?)

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I think most people would enjoy Adam Grant’s, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
For entrepreneurs in particular, Grant’s perspective on our place in the world, and potential to shake it up and bring about change is extremely inspiring because he backs it up with stories from real businesses and people.

What is your favorite quote?

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Key learnings:

  • Be responsive and informed
  • Collaborate
  • Don’t let barriers to communication stop you
  • Use your strengths
  • Be willing to see setbacks as opportunities


Twitter: @lucasscaretta