LA Report: What education or training did you have?
Karen Marquez: I studied at MIT where I was named MIT young Innovator and MIT Social Innovator of the year and I am also an ISingularity university fellow (NASA AMES PARK-Google).
LA Report: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Karen Marquez: Nicola Tesla.
LA Report: Why did you set up your company?
Karen Marquez: Because I firmly think that any single person in the world has the right to be educated in the right way, and technology can achieve that.
LA Report: What is the specific benefit that distinguishes your product or service from its competitors?
Karen Marquez: Infantium incorporates biometric feedback, computer vision analysis, and NLP in a brain-inspired computing system based on Artificial General Intelligence and automatic learning algorithms with application in education.
LA Report: How does your product change people’s lives for the better?
Karen Marquez: Exponential technologies will bring the issue in the future in which most jobs will be replaced by machines, in this context, Education is a pillar, in terms of ensuring essential skills in a future where traditional curriculum and education will be far from enough, advancing in humanity’s potential.
LA Report: How long did it take you to set up your business?
Karen Marquez: It took like two years after the initial research, and four days of bureaucracy.
LA Report: Where did you get your funding?
Karen Marquez: The funding was personal saving of the two founders, together with a Loan for SMEs from ENISA (Spain’s National Innovation Company, a public company under the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Spain) that finances innovative companies.
LA Report: What would help you grow the business?
Karen Marquez: Internationalisation of the company (US, Latin America), and by developing cutting-edge research and development in AI and neuroscience applied to education.
LA Report: What are the three main barriers to its growth?
Karen Marquez: Compared to American companies, European companies must compete in a very fragmented environment (different national regulations) with less funding in disruptive areas (such as education, environment, food, energy, etc.) from venture capital.
LA Report: Were there any EU programmes or funding that helped you set up and grow?
Karen Marquez: For growth, we have received a grant from EU’s Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, a call aimed to help innovative small firms get things from the lab to the market and help generate growth and jobs for Europe, the only one in Education so far.
LA Report: With hindsight, which would have been the most valuable skill set to have before setting up your business?
Karen Marquez: Chose your partners and investors well. It’s key to share the vision about a complex area like education.
LA Report: Do you have a mentor?
Karen Marquez: We have several mentors that have been critical to us in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and market development.
LA Report: If you were in charge of the government ministry for SMEs and start-ups what would be the three most important changes you would make to help them grow?
Karen Marquez: One of the most important things is unifying national regulations related to taxation systems. It’s an absolutely unfair advantage that some countries don’t tax startups until they have revenue, and others –like Spain –entrepreneurs need to pay really high taxes from the day zero, even for constitution of the company (really high compared to The US or the UK, for instance).
LA Report: Why are entrepreneurs important to society?
Karen Marquez: Because they are committed to make things that matter.
LA Report: What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Karen Marquez: You can invent the future for the better.
LA Report: If you could go back in time to when you were just about to start your company and tell yourself something useful, what would it be?
Karen Marquez: You’re going to meet people that won’t believe in what you’re doing. Don’t waste energy thinking about the why, and visualize the goal, that’s the best motivation in the fantastic emotional roller coaster you’re going to live!
LA Report: Thank you very much; and the best of luck for the future of your business.
Karen Marquez: Thank you.