Hello, everyone! 👋👋🏼👋🏾 Every co-founder contributes something different to a business. Today, you get a look at the influences and influencers that helped EducUp co-founder, Carlos Raúl, get to a place that propelled the education platform to an international audience.
You'll want to check out the Tip Jar section where he gives specific advice for those embarking on an entrepreneurial venture.
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Now, let's get to Part Two of my profile of the EducUp co-founders.
REFLECT ON EARLY EXAMPLES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Sometimes, dreams of a better life can start with hot dogs. And a love of mental math. Oh, and we can’t forget a mom who was quite entrepreneurial herself - in Cuba.
At least that was the case for Carlos Raúl, the CEO and Co-founder of EducUp.
Raúl says, “She studied to be a teacher and she, basically, did a lot of entrepreneurial things in Cuba in different ways. You know, selling stuff or renting our house like Airbnb – before Airbnb.”
Raúl, the co-founder of EducUp, an education platform, sold hot dogs and then built a small gym while he was in high school.
But it wasn’t until he arrived in the U.S. and connected with another Cuban who also loved mental math, as well as a Cuban who was a sales pro that, together, the three men made math magic and built a business with international impact.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT OR RECONNECT
Growing up, Raúl watched and admired Yusnier Viera (aka The Human Calculator) on TV in Cuba. “But he was kind of like at another level… So once I got here [U.S.], I saw that he was here, too. And I contacted him through Facebook.”
(Note: Since Raúl mentions Facebook, for transparency, I want to bring up that Facebook (now Meta) is my partner for this publication - which runs on the Meta newsletter platform, Bulletin).
IF YOU'RE IN A POSITION TO HELP, DO IT
Viera accepted Raúl’s Facebook friend request. That was around 2012.
“We started talking and he was super helpful. Super nice. He was actually doing his math tutoring thing with Spicy Math Academy.”
Raúl was helping Viera with Viera’s tutoring business. But it was once Viera started looking for a developer, or team of developers, a year or so later, for his math game, Hectoc, that things took off.
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Carlos Raúl)
STARTING OUT: Raúl says you need to try “different things out, getting close to as many interesting people as possible."
PRACTICAL EXAMPLES: Through different networks – online, LinkedIn & working at different places.
“Try to optimize and maximize as many experiences as possible.”
PRACTICAL EXAMPLE: In his case, Raúl was trying to incorporate into his life his love of coding, teaching and human relationships.
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid career): “Start something because you need to – because you must do it. Because you know if you don’t do it, I won’t say you’d die, but almost die.”
“Don’t quit your job until you have some validation [about your idea] – external validation."
Note: He says he's not referring to validation from your peers. Instead, he's talking about validation from customers.
STARTING OVER: Raúl believes you need to go after the intersection of three factors. According to him, they are the following:
“Something you really care about” (your passion)
“Something you’re really good at” (your natural skills)
“Something… that is going to have a big impact in the world” (what the market needs)
He calls the intersection of the three, “the greatest combination of all.”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: “Try things and either convince yourself that it is promising or fail fast.”
“When building a software product, avoid overbuilding before launching, but respect your users/customers.”
Raúl also adds, “Reid Hoffman says that if you are not ashamed of your first version of your product, you launched too late.”
Raúl believes that is definitely true with one caveat. He says you have to keep in mind “that there is no second opportunity for a first impression.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE:
“La luz de [adelante] es la que alumbra.”
LOOSE TRANSLATION: The light in front is the one that illuminates.
In other words, Raúl explains, “Take opportunities as they come your way and avoid over-optimization for what you could have done otherwise.” Raúl refers to Jeff Bezos here by saying, “Minimize your regrets. Go for the things you want.”
Raúl also loves the proverb, “Niño que no llora, no mama.”
LOOSE TRANSLATION: The child that doesn’t cry doesn’t nurse.” In English, the equivalent would be “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Basically, “If you want something, go for it. Ask for it.” Raúl reminds you how surprised you’d be at “how much you can get when you have no shame in asking.”
He also adds that his mom taught him “the supreme importance of giving.” So he believes in giving back and says that's part of “the circle of life.”
ACCEPT EXTRA WORK, BUILD UP EXPERIENCE
By that time, Raúl had been working on some software projects and consulting for small businesses. He did websites and started a small ticketing solution project for theaters wanting to sell tickets online.
He says those projects “definitely shaped the way I see entrepreneurship. And I fell in love with creating things.”
KARMA: VIERA'S KINDNESS EARLIER IS PAID BACK
It was back in 2015, though, when someone contacted Raúl looking for a developer to help with the Hectoc game app that Raúl showed up to a consequential meeting in Miami to learn more.
He walked in, looked up and said, “Oh, it’s you, Yusnier!” Yusnier Viera and Yamel Barroso were the people looking for some help with the game app. And that’s how the three men started working together on what eventually became EducUp.
CLEARLY DEFINE ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
When I asked how they split up the duties and avoid overlap, Raúl explained, “I run all the technical things.”
Viera is in charge of the education part since he’s the educator. And as Viera pointed out, Barroso is usually the one coming up with some “crazy ideas.”
Viera is the middle link and, one way or the other, the three find a way to make the “crazy idea” possible.
I can’t independently verify it. But, according to their website and Viera, EducUp, their learning app, has 950 thousand learners in 175 countries. Raúl says, “That number changes any minute. We’re approaching a million very, very soon.”
GRATITUDE - ALWAYS
It’s a far cry from what Cuba offered them.
That’s why Raúl says, “We three, sometimes, say that we feel that ‘we already made it.’”
“Coming from one of the world’s poorest, most isolated countries and getting to where we are is humbling. It makes you come from a place of happiness and abundance, which is a fantastic place to be.”
STARTED BUSINESS: 2020 (EducUp)
Born in Cuba
Parents are Cuban
University of Havana - About one semester shy of getting a Bachelor's degree in computer science, Raúl took a chance on his entrepreneurial projects
Attended FIU for one year
DREAM JOB AS A KID:
“I wanted to be somebody important. I was not obsessed with any profession, in particular, but I remember exploring different ideas.” They included the following possible careers:
BIGGEST GOAL YET: “I am just starting. I want to do much more. I want to impact the lives of more than 500 million people worldwide with the power of 0s and 1s. That is probably the most ambitious [goal].”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
A Marketing Checklist Made Easy
I don’t know about you, but checklists work really well with me. That’s why I thought this FREE workshop might be useful to help you as you get your business off the ground. The class is designed to give you the fundamental elements of your online marketing plan so you can get started on the right foot. Here’s the link:
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
Making Sense of Online Marketing: A Simple Checklist for Success
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
7:00 p.m. EDT – 8:00 p.m. EDT
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Getting Ready for Change
It’s understandable that you can experience a lot of anxiety when beginning a new job, new career or starting your new business. To help alleviate those jitters or boost your self-confidence, this FREE webinar will help you get focused on what’s going to help you most in that transition. Adaptability is key in today’s world. Attend this webinar to tackle change with confidence and purpose. Take a look at the course description from the Florida Library Webinars organization:
Florida Library Webinars
Adapting or Transitioning in a New Role
Friday, March 31, 2022
2:00 p.m. EDT – 3:00 p.m. EDT
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
You can’t overstate the importance of mentors in helping you in business. Before there were how-to guides to entrepreneurship spelling out the key steps, some people relied on their informal mentors (friends and mom and dad).
Those of you who had parents who were entrepreneurs got a daily lesson, many times without realizing it – until afterwards.
Even in a place like Cuba where entrepreneurship is not publicly encouraged, it’s good to hear stories about people like Raúl’s mom who found her own creative and entrepreneurial ways to help her family.
For some families, it wasn’t a lofty pursuit. It was just survival.
Just like moms do a lot of work that’s unpaid and underappreciated, it’s nice to acknowledge those “unofficial, informal mentors” we have in our lives who helped us, inspired us and taught us to be resourceful and imaginative in “finding a way” to make things happen. In entrepreneurship, many times, that’s what it comes down to – finding a way to make it happen after countless tries or failures.
Raúl’s mom may or may not know the role she played in shaping her son to become an entrepreneur, but it’s nice that he acknowledged her profound influence in helping provide him the seeds of entrepreneurship that are now flourishing and bearing fruit.
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🌴And don't miss Part Three as I round out the profiles of the EducUp founders. Until then, thank you for your support.😻