The 54 young entrepreneur finalists of the Explorer Prizes of Banco Santander are about to put an end to their adventure in Silicon Valley before coming back to Spain and finding out if they are winners. A week in the cradle of innovation and entrepreneurship has been enough to change their professional lives and vision.
The last edition of the Explorer program, Jóvenes con Ideas (Young people with Ideas) of Banco Santander has got to its halfway point. The most promising entrepreneurs in Spain are about to end their week in Silicon Valley, the cradle of the innovation, located in San Francisco Bay.
They have spent seven days immersed in the genuine entrepreneurial spirit, visiting technological giants such as Facebook and Google and attending lectures and mentoring sessions by very important people from the entrepreneurial world.
In fact, the Explorer young people have had the opportunity of defending the projects that have brought them there in front of the real “sharks” of Silicon Valley, who advised them to help them prosper personally and professionally.
One of the young people who has had the opportunity to live this experience is Rubén Martínwho, along with his colleague Ramiro Sánchez, has developed InMyHand, a bionic exoskeleton that lets people who have lost mobility in a hand use it normally. Likewise, the device lets the user do rehabilitation exercises and it is easily controlled through the device itself or a mobile app.
It is 4:15 p.m. in Madrid, 7:15 a.m. in San Francisco Bay. Ruben has started the day an hour ago. “Here, the pace in different. Everything is done earlier”, he said by phone from his hotel.
Nonetheless, he wakes up excited. After visiting the premises and attending lectures and classes, this is the day they visit Facebook. “I have never imagined staying here. Winning the local edition of the Prizes Explorer and staying in Silicon Valley is just a dream. For me, a computer engineer, coming to the mecca of innovation is exciting”, he states.
In spite of always being a difficult question: summarizing in a word or a sentence how his experience is there, Rubén answers clearly: “It is a totally different world from what we know. Their concept of working is different from that of Spain and Europe. It doesn’t matter what you have studied or what you know. What’s essential is that you are excited and enthusiastic to do things and to learn”.
Up to this moment, the visit to Google has been the most impressive for him. There they had the opportunity to chat with the employees. “It is an example of what I talked about before. There are people without studies in technology that have received their positions thanks to their desire, talent and excitement for learning”, he explains.
Likewise, we haven’t lacked mentoring sessions with Spanish entrepreneurs who work in the mecca of innovation, especially those focused on the difference between the European and EEUU labor market. “Here everything is on a large scale. It is common to ask for a loan of one or two million of dollars and it is really important to know exactly figures, teams…”.
The difference of the concept of “entrepreneurship” in The United States is so immense that Rubén surprises everybody: “You come to Silicon Valley and think: “better forget everything you learnt and listen to what they say here”, he jokes.
It is not only a professional experience, but a personal one. They are the best 54 young entrepreneurs of Spain in 2019, with ideas and dreams, that live together for a week in the cradle of the entrepreneurship. “Living is great. There are many of us and logically we disperse a little, but we usually go together to the activities and seize the opportunity to talk, share our projects and experiences. We learn from each another”, he says.
With the awards ceremony of the Prizes Explorer on the next Friday, Ruben already thinks about making his project InMyHand come true with very specific and clear terms. “I hope our product will be in the Spanish market in four or five years, it will be validated by doctors and recognized by all the society. My experience in Silicon Valley has opened my mind. I dream of coming back one day if the startup works well. Thanks to these days, I learned what to do to stand out”, he concludes.
Program Explorer: a commitment to innovation and young talent
The program Explorer Jóvenes con Ideas is boosted by Banco Santander through Santander Univesidades and coordinated by the Centro Internacional Santander Emprendimiento (CISE). Since it was launched in 2011, this compromise of Banco Santander with the innovation and the young talent has promoted the projects of more than 6,000 young people and favored the creation of more than 600 companies. Only in this edition, the initiative has given training and mentoring to 1,812 university people.
The program is developed within Santander X, the global platform of university entrepreneurship that tries to support the bet of universities on the entrepreneurial spirit from a global and interconnected perspective, aimed at contributing to the prosperity of people, companies and society.