Image | Carlos Rodríguez en 4YFN 2015
As a result of a socio-economic crisis that has spawned all types of initiatives related to entrepreneurship and innovation, many are reflecting on the debate opened up by this question. Can one learn to be an entrepreneur, or is it a natural talent reserved for a select few? Whatever the case, one thing is certain: to successfully promote a project one quality is indispensable: initiative.
Such was the case with Carlos Rodríguez (@crodriguezanton), a first-year university student studying Telecommunication Sciences and Technologies at Barcelona’s School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSETB) at the Polytechnical University of Catalonia. We spoke with him and he shared his story with us.
Who is Carlos Rodríguez, and what does he do?
I am a Telecommunications Engineering student at the Polytechnical University of Catalonia (UPC). I am 18 years old and currently developing a management system application for schools with which I hope to soon establish a startup.
Why have you recently appeared in the media? Explain your story to us.
It all began when they interviewed me at the university after I attended 4 Years From Now (4YFN). They wanted me to explain to them what our project consisted of and how I managed to get in contact with Google. After that the story ended up in the newspapers and on television.
Where did the idea to create BEMS come from? What is it exactly?
BEMS was the product of my final senior school project. It all started because at my school there was, initially, a problem tracking absences. After discussing it with the principal, Tomás Vera, who was also my project advisor, my brother and I decided to create a Web system with the support of an Android application to solve the problem. As we progressed on the project we began to add new functions until, in the end, we ended up with what is now BEMS.
This is a multi-platform administration system for schools, available for the Web, Android and iOS. The system makes it possible to track any aspect within the school: class attendance, internal communications, events, examinations… The system’s two main objectives are, first, to improve communications between all members of the educational community, thereby enhancing the atmosphere at the school, in addition to academic performance. Secondly, it seeks to facilitate the handling of all school-related issues, for both teachers and the management team.
Image | BEMS
While you were creating BEMS, did you and your brother envision the project having an international dimension?
When we created BEMS we did not. Like I said, the project began as a senior school research project. But, given the good feedback that we received at our school, we thought that perhaps we could apply it to more of them. So, little by little, we expanded our aspirations by furnishing the project with an international dimension.
When you signed up as a volunteer for 4 Years From Now (4YFN), had you already planned to approach the Google team? What was your strategy?
Not really. When I signed up for 4 Years From Now my idea was to see how everybody worked in the world of startups, which seemed remote at that time. My idea was to wait until the next year to go as a startup and see what I could do, but when I saw the opportunities offered, I decided not to wait any longer to take advantage of them.
In what way did the structure and approach of the world’s largest mobile entrepreneurship congress facilitate this contact?
4YFN’s structure helped a lot to make the whole process possible. The talks and the presentations on the stages allowed you to learn about the possibilities the congress offered. And you can really engage the different companies’ representatives, which greatly facilitates communications with them.
What was the conversation with the Silicon Valley giant like? And what were the results?
I approached Google by explaining what our system was and how it worked. Then I told them about the problem we had with the data’s connectivity between the Android application and the Web server. It was then when they shared with me the solution they could offer from their Cloud platform: they gave me access to run tests on their servers, using their tool, and offered me their support on the implementation of the devices’ synchronisation.
What experiences and other opportunities did participating in 4 Years From Now give you?
4YFN also allowed me to get to know the startups sector and how it operates. I also had a chance to meet lots of interesting people and, drawing on the event’s networking tool, they offered me a job at the startup Inhours, where I am currently working as an Android developer.
What are the next steps to take?
With regards to BEMS, we plan on running a beta test during the next academic year at 5-10 senior schools, primary schools and academies, with the goal of generating a sizeable sample of schools’ real needs, so as to continue improving the product.
And in 2016, will you return to 4 Years From Now?
Of course. The idea is to return as a startup, with the team formed, to try to forge ties and secure financing, in this way managing to obtain the international dimension that we have set as an objective for the project.