Sun. Dec 15th, 2019

Who is the young Explorer entrepreneur of the year (and what has he done)

Little more than a week has passed, but José Rodríguez is still in a cloud from which he will not easily come down. And if he does, he will invent the way to go back up. Or print it in 3D. Too many emotions condensed in a few days that will survive in the memory of this young student of 5º of Medicine, winner, along with Carlos de Frías, of the X edition of the Explorer Awards, Youth with Ideas, promoted by Banco Santander through Santander Universities, with the coordination of the Santander Emprendimiento International Center, CISE.

Why? A week ago this 23-year-old was landing in Spain from Silicon Valley. He had shared a week-long stay at the cradle of technological innovation with another 54 colleagues thanks to the Explorer university entrepreneurship program. A trip that put an end to five months of hard work, training and mentoring. Just by setting foot, his dream had come true, but what he didn't know when he landed back was that he wasn't going to end there.

Nor has it started now. His innovative DNA took shape already in the institute, where in 3º of the ESO José extended the hours in the laboratory “to investigate”. He was barely 16 years old, but he was already in a thousand ‘mini-projects’, as he calls them. It was not until high school that he began to ‘experiment’ until he finally arrived at the university. We had to take another step.
“We were good at investigating, but we lacked the idea, to innovate”
, share. And he got to it.

Winners group photo

Winners group photo
(Santander Bank)

It can be avoided?

The ‘big’ idea came up in a hospital when, studying the race, he had the opportunity to see a surgical operation. "It was a perfect surgery, but the patient died within a week ”, rRodriguez agrees. “The work was perfect, but failed. It was very shocking. Inevitably you wonder: why has it happened?", bill. The explanation: a post-surgical infection It spread and resulted in sepsis. Your question: can it be avoided? And that's how he and Carlos got to work on it.

They already had the engine, all that remained was to find the best way to get it. This is how they found the Explorer program promoted by Santander to promote university entrepreneurship and talent. After a brainstorming of possible solutions were launched. "
We came up with a device that could measure bacteria: quantify them, since the problem with bacteria is that they are not seen live and direct
", Explain. The idea was clear, but how could these young people assemble that machine? For now, the project “I was only on a white board"

"We have to know more”, Remember to tell yourself. More robotics, electronics, technology … The prototype took shape thanks in part to its 3D printer, but how to make it a reality in the market? "In January we started the Explorer Space of the University of Santiago de Compostela because we didn't want to have just one idea. We wanted to build. Design a startup and make it happen", it states. It was time to add financial, economic, marketing knowledge … to find a company that had a place in the market.

José Rodríguez with a group of colleagues in Silicon Valley

José Rodríguez with a group of colleagues in Silicon Valley
(Santander Bank)

The definitive model

BactiDec It was approaching what it is today as an MVP device (minimum viable product), a concept that they also learned during Explorer. The time has come to receive feedback, for which they conducted up to 100 interviews with doctors, assistants, nurses, surgeons, etc. The perfect opportunity to talk with them about the problem, ensure that there was a need and interest in the market, explain their functionalities, assess their design and price, etc. Based on that, they built the definitive model.

It was the month of June and, after almost an entire course of work, the curves began. The first: to be selected among 1,049 projects to travel to Silicon Valley and choose, on their return, to prizes of up to 30,000 euros in conflict with the projects of their peers. "A brutal, incredible five-day trip”, Explains José, who was the BactiDec representative who traveled to San Francisco. There he met with real investors and visited the headquarters of Google and Facebook.

But what José liked the most was knowing Stanford University. "It is just the environment that I like, where the most basic science moves to useful products and services to society", Explain. There he was able to meet and have coffee with Elena Sotillo, Spanish and ‘second on board’ of the immunotherapy laboratory of that university: “I had a special connection because of all the fields of science that I like most is immunotherapy"

Group photo in Silicon Valley

Group photo in Silicon Valley
(Santander Bank)

"I had already won"

An invaluable encounter that revives excitedly and that may well be worth a return ticket to Stanford, who knows, in a while. Before, however, he wants to continue training and do his doctorate. And before that, in addition, another new emotional jolt: Listen to the name of BactiDec as the best entrepreneurial idea of ​​the year. He still doesn't believe it. "I had already won, already came full of pleasure only with the trip and the program, which was a victory", share.

The young student of Medicine of the University of Santiago de Compostela also keeps a more than special memory of his classmates. "
Very interesting people, with concerns, open, sociable, eager to do things, make teams and share
”, Values. Companions "very valuable”With those who not only have a WhatsApp group in common, but several projects that have emerged naturally due to their innate entrepreneurial compatibilities.

They all opted for the same award: the best entrepreneurial idea of ​​the year, recognized with 30,000 euros. A decisive impulse for BactiDec to reach its destination with an objective: that any surgeon can know in real time the number of bacteria present in the surgical wound while operatinga, allowing an early diagnosis, improving the speed of treatment and avoiding complications. Something especially relevant if we consider “that 8% of operations result in post-surgical infection"

Thanks to Santander and its objective of contributing to the progress of people and society, BactiDec is closer to where it has to be: operating rooms. A goal that seems even more necessary if possible when José shares that a post-surgical infection is an average expense of 90,000 euros. Luckily, thanks to the Explorer Young with ideas program, that distance is now shorter: “For everything it teaches, without this program BactiDec would not exist", Value, and add:"
The most valuable is the training. A startup can go well or badly, but knowledge endures

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