One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a leader of a business project has been my participation in the world’s largest startup accelerator, The MassChallenge 2013.
With my startup, Wedubox.com, we were one of the 128 finalists, thanks to this were immersed in the ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in Massachusetts, having access to hundreds of mentors, side prizes, sponsorships and events like the super enriching MITx hackaton.
Never before has a Colombian startup reached the finals, and last year we had 5 startups! It was a clear sign that in Colombia we have a lot of talent and potential to innovate; withWedubox.com also these other companies participated: Keraderm (Biotech Company), Acsendo (Key Performance Indicators in the Cloud), Ubidots (Internet of things) and Aentropico (Big Data).
Wedubox is a virtual education platform to create MOOCs in Spanish (like Coursera or edX), we work directly with over 4,300 content creators from more than 45 countries, our value promise is to provide the best online educational platform for content creators, so they can create courses easily and friendly, while for students it is very easy to take knowledge in the form of pills (videos 5-10 minutes). Wedubox shares 70 % of their income with the professors and institutions and does not charge licensing or training. We are currently working on Wedubox 2.0 which will be presented in April 2014 which will include an exponential leap in innovation and functionality including tools and techniques that none of the current leaders (Coursera , edX , Khan Academy) included.
Participation in ecosystems such as Massachusetts allowed us to access world-class mentors. In our case we worked with experts from MIT, Harvard, MITx, Adidas, among others, who helped us to improve our business model, marketing strategy and more importantly, pedagogy and quality techniques in mass virtual education model, which is now the biggest challenge of all of us in the world of MOOCs.
Thanks to Masschallenge you can work with sponsors like Microsoft , American Airlines, Rackspace, Amazon, UPS, law firms, logistics etc, in our case we received more than USD 90k in sponsorship from Rackspace, Amazon and Microsoft Azure.
There are incredibly enriching events for the startups, such as the MITX hackaton in which we participated with Wedubox, in this event we worked with 8 to 10 gurus of various subjects, 1 week prior, they had access to all the information about our startup and later in a classroom meeting, we have a brainstorm session of several hours where these gurus propose all kinds of ideas and improvements to our business idea, financial, educational and marketing model from all angles. The interesting thing is that by bringing together a large group of brains with different specialties (marketing , education , finance, human resources etc ) they ask very hard and diverse questions about things that are already assumed to be true, and also contribute bright ideas that we never had taken into account.
In addition to the enormous contribution for each startup, participating in an accelerator such as MassChallenge allowed us to grow professionally in a way that is hardly achieved elsewhere. To speak on equal terms with portfolio investors holding billions of dollars, do your 1 minute pitch in front of 300 people, expose and present your project to dozens of experts, investors and entrepreneurs, makes you grow as a professional and as an entrepreneur, this is something that you can not achieved with an MBA or other traditional academic experience.
Finally, another major gain in being part of these ecosystems is the network of contacts and connections, not only with investors and sponsors, but with other entrepreneurs, for example we at Wedubox did an strategic alliance with Inbiotech.co helping them with our expertise in e-commerce and marketing, now they are selling their products in Amazon.com, also they are creating virtual courses on biotechnology for us in Wedubox, also with Acsendo, we are helping them to use our platform to train their customers and attract more clients.
In conclusion I invite you to participate on the MassChallenge, thanks to this opportunity we improved our business model, got the investor and became a real enterprise.
Horacio Reyes, Cofounder of Wedubox.com