Dom Smith chats to Martin De La Herran, Program Coordinator for delta v about his new role at the Martin Trust Center, as well as his own entrepreneurial goals for the future.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Martin De La Herran, I have both an American and Spanish nationality. My parents are originally from Spain, I’m a future MBA Candidate at MIT Sloan, but in the previous months, I’m going to be helping out here at the Martin Trust Center, with Trish Cotter’s team who are in charge of admissions of the start-ups, and Acceleration until delta v in September.
Can you tell me about your duties here?
We can divide the job I have for these months into three parts, one is admissions of the start-ups, the second is building the boards for the admitted start-ups, and third would be Accelerating the start-ups once their in, because they will be here in June. Right now, I am focusing on admitting around 25 per cent of the applicants, so what I do now is take in all the info and filter it, so that Trish and the judges can optimize how they use their time while going through the applicants. Once I get to the boards, I’m assuming I’ll be contacting alumni from MIT, as well as previous board members, that we’ve heard successful stories from last year. I’m guessing I’ll have to use my own network to find useful board members in the industries that the new start-ups are working in. Once the start-ups come in, we’ll have to give them a hand with their business plans.
What do you want to achieve in the future?
One thing that I have discovered about myself very recently is that I love innovation, and so innovation can be seen in many different ways. One is that you yourself are the innovation, and you invent the project and create it from scratch, and you feel liberated from any kind of obligation because you’re not part of any corporation, but at the same time it’s very risky! I would say that’s my number one option, and I would have to see if during my time at MIT I could put a team together, and maybe apply for delta v in the future.
Would you say that you’ve always had that entrepreneurial spark?
I founded an energy cocoa drink. In Spain, there are a lot of people who don’t like coffee, but who still need the energy. So, these people end up consuming energy drinks! These are extremely unhealthy! We are all used to, around 90 per cent of people anyway, to drinking cocoa from a very young age. So, I thought, ‘why not put the caffeine into something natural?’ This could be a very good substitute for an energy drink, specifically for those people who don’t drink coffee. I saw that people were liking it, so I built a little team – a got a creative guy, a finance guy and a commercial guy. So, we had a team of four, and we called the company Monkoa, and it’s on sale on Amazon in Spain. It’s on pause right now, and hopefully when I get back, I’ll be able to boost it with all the wisdom that I’ll have acquired.
How would you advise that someone best use the Martin Trust Center?
There are people who are really going to change the world here, and so I would say talk to them, and build strong bonds with them. You should get as much help as you can for your project from the people here – they are the best in the world. Definitely get the staff to help you, and the EIRs. My advice would be take every chance and opportunity.
What key skills do you need to succeed as an entrepreneur?
You need two, or maybe three things as an entrepreneur – of course, you need a team, but for each person on the team, and it’s very in line with the MIT motto, which is mens et manus [mind at hand]. You need mind, you need a vision and to believe that you can do it, because you’re going to go through hard time, and that has to be able to pull you through those hard times and if you haven’t really thought about what you want to do, then there’s no way it’s going to happen. Imagine it, have a vision and keep the goal in mind. The mind part is key. In order to keep your goal in mind, and work harder than everyone else, you need to love what you’re doing.
Listen to the full interview here: