From an MIT Hoodie to Smartick
There are times when life rewards you, and it’s in those moments that you’re assured that all that your effort has been worthwhile. At Smartick, it happens often. When happy parents write to us because their children are no longer intimidated by math, for example. Another example is the day we publicized our agreement with the MIT G-Lab. I’m an industrial engineer. I studied hard, and, after working for several years, I was able to continue studying and earn an MBA from INSEAD. I have no greater commendation than I liked it; and I still like to learn, to question myself, and to try to solve problems. Something that I still do with education and mathematics, ever since we decided to found Smartick.
I have been blessed with an enormous amount of luck to have grown up in an environment in which it was normal to ask things, to study, to enjoy learning. My house was a place that hosted cardiac surgeons of many different nationalities, and the place to which my father returned with a gift for us after a visit to the United States. Therefore, I was familiar with MIT from a young age. During my teens, I was a proud owner of a hoodie adorned with those initials, a gift from my father that I still have and my older nephew enjoys. Therefore, the fact that a team from the Sloan School of Management, home of their prestigious MBA, is assisting us with our expansion strategy into the US seems like a dream come true, which began to take shape when Endeavor chose me as one of their favored entrepreneurs this year.
Javier Arroyo and I spent an intense summer dividing our time between Madrid and Boston. There, walking along Mass Ave, between Harvard and MIT, across the Charles River to Back Bay, you’re crossing, you sense, into the world’s academic and, in some ways, business elite. As often stated by Bill Aulet, head of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, if the turnover of the companies founded or directed by alumni were combined, this would be one of the major world economies. But they are not only motivated by money. In these classrooms, they also aspire to change the world for the better, as the Spaniards who are teaching at MIT pointed out. They are becoming a magnet for global talent and, therefore, entering the central hall of MIT you find a huge mix of nationalities. It’s the same case for the team that came to Madrid to work with us at Smartick HQ. Groups in which nationalities are insignificant, and the world is the stage.
I have a one-year-old daughter. She was born just before my first trip to Boston. I brought back a onesie for her, emblazoned with the word “Cute” using letters from the periodic table. And it is adorned with the MIT logo. Hopefully, with effort, her dreams will become reality, just like those of her father. Nowadays, most of those dreams are to give the greatest possible number of children access to an excellent education. MIT has been doing it since 1861. It was the academic response to the industrial revolution. At Smartick, we want to be the academic response to the digital revolution, for the children. To give everyone the opportunity to study in a center of academic excellence, so that thousands don’t become a statistic of school failure. So that thousands more don’t give up careers in the sciences because they think that they are bad at math. So that they will all become citizens who value themselves, who are not easily manipulated, who have a passion for learning.
Our wish is that every hour, children all over the world will turn on their computers for 15 minutes of math adapted to each one of them. To achieve a strong global platform, we have the help of MIT. I still have the hoodie.
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