GLOBIS Alum Jose Fernandez Villasenor left Tokyo for Silicon Valley 2 years ago. Now, his biomedical tech startup has just been accepted into the prestigious Techstars program.
(He is the second GLOBIS alum who attended CES 2018, after Miko Tan.)
1. What have you been doing since you left GLOBIS?
I am currently the COO of Biointeractive Technologies, leading the company from our HQ in the Silicon Valley (SV). We are solving the problem of current Human-Machine Interactions (HMI) that limit mobility and lack of intuitiveness by creating a wristband that tells you what your hands are doing and transforming them into a remote controller. (Think of the movie Minority Report).
We are the first to embed sensors to the strap and, through human-machine learning algorithms, eliminate the need for calibration in six hand gestures. These, in turn, can be mapped to any VR/AR button/slider interface. We play in the B2B market in VR/AR, healthcare, and industrial automation. We have just been accepted into the only accelerator in the world that has an alum that has had an IPO: Techstars. The acceptance rate into this program is less than 1%.
It has been almost 2.5 years since I moved to the Bay Area from Tokyo. I still remember trying to squeeze in as many classes as possible to finish my MBA at GLOBIS before reaching the relocation deadline set by the company that I was working for at the time.
I officially started my MBA in April 2015 and I moved by September 2015! I was lucky to do a few classes in the Pre-MBA program, but even so, I had to take 8 courses per term (!) to earn the minimum credits needed for graduation. I was really lucky to have amazing classmates and friends that helped me by being flexible in terms of their study sessions schedules and teamwork.
It took me one year to get familiar with the basics of how the Silicon Valley ecosystem works. I have been networking since day 1, reaching out to founders, accelerators, tech companies, and attending meet-ups—it was really exciting. At the same time, during the same period, I saw a lot of friends and founders going back to their countries and failing in their ventures: it was scary, too.
I tried to find a founder team unsuccessfully, and then serendipity occurred! I went to give a lecture on cybersecurity in medical devices, and one of the attendees approached me. He told me of this great team of biomedical engineering masters students in Canada looking for someone with my profile. I took a few phone calls with the guys and decided to fly to meet them ASAP.
We closed the deal and joined them in this amazing experience that has been starting our company.
2. You're a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. How did your GLOBIS experience help you?
GLOBIS gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to become an entrepreneur. I know it sounds cheesy, but every class I took helped me in some way or another. I have constantly reviewed materials and lessons learned in my classes to help me implement structure and strategies in my company.
The hands-on classes were critical for me to gain confidence, knowing my accounting and financials have helped me to manage my runway and burn-rate, and convincing investors on the market potential and risks.
Organizational behavior, leadership and human resources classes helped me in dealing with conflict and setting a foundation for a winning culture. Marketing and strategy classes were fundamental in setting rules for customer validation, metrics and improving my product. Venture classes definitively helped me to get the confidence to pitch an idea, defend it and convince people of my product.
Even now, keeping in touch with friends and with activities like our book club have helped me with an international network and constant actualization. Now that we are looking to open a channel in the Japanese market, I am sure that GLOBIS will be key in succeeding as well.
3. Any advice for other GLOBIS alumni who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?
Find the right team first! Take your time, be sure to resonate with your core values and feel comfortable with your strengths and theirs.
Be humble to know and understand what is best for the company; reflect your own values in the culture of the company.
Finally, WORK HARD! Give it your all; try, fail, learn and try again! It is such an amazing adventure!