“The Most Difficult Moment Was Actually Getting Started”
Interview with Cristina Balbás Martínez, Co-Founder of Escuelab
This is part of the EdTech Female Founder (#EFF) interview series brought to you by SuperCharger Ventures.
What inspired you to start your EdTech Founder journey?
During my PhD research I detected a big gap between science and society and I wanted to work towards solving it. I realized there was no mechanism in place to address or detect the problem, so I was compelled to start my own project.
Describe your company in one sentence.
Escuelab is a social enterprise that democratizes access to a hands-on, inquiry-based STEAM education working directly with students and through online teacher-training.
What should an aspiring EdTech founder know before initiating their startup journey?
It is not going to be an easy process but it is very rewarding and a huge learning experience every step of the way. It is essential to keep your eyes and ears open and surround yourself by people who complement your skills and are passionate about the project.
What has been the most difficult moment as a founder and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult moment was actually getting started: when the project was still in the prototyping phase, we had to beg schools to try it out for free. As we gained experience, we started to build a reputation and getting users became increasingly easy.
What can the EdTech industry do to improve the gender gap?
I think it is very important to provide successful role models. There should be female examples present in all educational materials, regardless of the topic or age group they are addressed to.
Can you tell us an example of when you had to pivot?
The most recent example would be the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of school closures we could no longer reach children by training their teachers through our online platform, and we had to adapt our offering so the programs could be implemented at home, by the children themselves or with the help of their families. It was a success and it actually got us more users after school resumed.
What will you consider as success in 5 years from now?
Expanding beyond Spain into the Latin American market would be a huge success for us in 5 years.
Can you tell us about a role model of yours?
My undergraduate thesis director, Alison Gammie PhD, is a woman in science who is also an excellent mentor and advocate for diversity in research. She became a role model since I first had her as a professor in one of my university courses and has remained an important mentor for me and my career afterwards.
Looking back, what advice would you have liked to have received before starting your company?
I would have loved to have known that entrepreneurship is such a long journey (a never-ending one, in fact) that it is essential to ration out one’s efforts and devote enough time to self-care for projects to be sustainable in the long run. It is something that is especially important for project with a social impact such as ours.
To learn more about Cristina Balbás Martínez or Escuelab, visit their company site:
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LinkedIn Escuelab |
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