By Laura Seco Pacheco (El Toque)
HAVANA TIMES – They say Cubans don’t travel to the moon because they don’t want to. This phrase has been repeated to death in all kinds of contexts, and it flaunts Cuban inventiveness and determination to achieve anything they put their minds to.
In line with this inventiveness and determination are the creators of EducUp, an EdTech[i] created by three Cubans: a mathematician, a software engineer and an online business entrepreneur.
“We are three Cuban-American founders, all living in Miami, with an interesting mix of entrepreneurs, educators and engineers,” explains Carlos Raul Garcia, an engineer in Computer Sciences and one of the project’s founders.
He is joined by Yamel Barroso, a businessman with a long career in starting up businesses in Spain and the US, and Yusnier Viera, a math whizz and mental calculator, who holds three Guinness World Records for mental calendar calculations.
The team is much bigger and is composed of engineers, designers, professors, almost all of whom are Cubans living in Panama, the UK, Spain, Bulgaria,jf and Havana, of course.
EducUp has been providing technological solutions to education issues since 2019. This platform concentrates on making learning fun, simple and accessible via a mobile phone app, which can be downloaded for free.
“We have over 50 courses focusing on languages such as English, Portuguese and German, math for all levels, personal finances, digital marketing, etc.,” Carlos Raul says.
They have created their own teaching method for this: GET (gamification + educators + tutors). Based on this, they combine courses by world class educators with tailored learning in the hands of a tutor, in a fun environment, where students learn while enjoying themselves.
The founders had been working on other projects since 2015, which slowly built the foundations of what is the platform today. This should soon hit the milestone of one million students in 175 countries.
Carlos Raul talks to elTOQUE about the past, present and future of EducUp.
What was the process to create a startup?
“Creating a startup is an emotion-filled, passionate experience of hard work. Like lots of people say, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions and uncertainty. It’s like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane as you’re falling. It is definitely a chaotic experience at times, full of action and challenges. But it’s also enriching, you learn and grow so much, as a human and professionally. You come out of it a lot stronger in every aspect, regardless of the result.”
They were recently selected to form part of startup accelerator On Deck, how beneficial has this been for the project?
“We are very happy to have been selected for ODX as it not only represents our first external capital for EducUp, but also support from one of the most solid networks of founders, consultants and investors in the world.”
What are the next steps for EducUp? Are you thinking about branching out to Cuba at some point?
“One of our objectives in the first half of this year is to take out our investment seed capital and reach four million students before the end of 2023. Our vision is to become the most impressive education company in the world, changing the way people learn any subject, making learning fun and enjoyable for billions of people worldwide.”
“We are very interested in taking our platform to Cuba, as it’s where we were born and raised. In fact, we have many students learning English there right now. This is our main objective regarding the Cuban audience living on the island. There are some obstacles, of course, such as the need to use the Internet (we’re thinking about working around this soon) and the way to pay for courses.”
[i] EdTech refers to companies, startups and organizations dedicated to education using technology.