2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Alfonso Martinez, MIT (Sloan)

Alfonso Martinez

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Motivated by challenges, fascinated by change, passionate about building things that improve people’s lives.”

Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Fun fact about yourself: I can only make people laugh when I’m not trying to.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bentley University, Economics & Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? athenahealth, a healthcare technology company based outside of Boston, where I worked with health tech startups looking to partner with athena.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? At my startup, auggi, a consumer health venture that empowers individuals with gut-related disorders to better manage their condition.

Where will you be working after graduation? auggi

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • 2-times teaching assistant for MIT’s advanced entrepreneurship course: 15.378 Building an Entrepreneurial Venture (aka GSD)
  • Completed MIT’s delta v summer accelerator as cofounder at auggi
  • Led the 2019 Silicon Valley Study Tour (SVST) health tech vertical
  • VP of Partnerships for the 2019 Sloan Healthcare & Bioinnovations Conference
  • Led the 2019 SVST Venture Capital panel
  • Officer for the 2019 MIT Technology Conference
  • Funded by MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund as cofounder at auggi
  • Completed MIT Fuse 3-week accelerator as cofounder at auggi
  • Completed the Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab), an action learning course, to define growth opportunities for a Series A logistics startup in Nairobi, Kenya

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I have two experiences to highlight: 1) being MC (master of ceremony) for the 2019 Latin American C-f(x) (cultural function), and 2) my Global Entrepreneurship Lab experience in Kenya.

C-f(x)s are Sloan-hosted celebrations that highlight cultural artifacts of the different cultural groups represented in the MBA program. During my first semester, I was asked to MC the Latin American C-f(x). I was intimidated by the offer and was wary of my ability to do a good job as MC. I literally put in practice techniques learned in our Communications course and resulted in one of the most enjoyable experiences of the Core semester. It felt natural. It felt right. I was able to establish a connection with the crowd and the C-f(x) was one of the best attended to date. This experience reinforced my confidence and interest in public speaking.

Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) is Sloan’s oldest Action Learning course. This course pairs MBA students with startups in emerging markets to work together and spend 3 weeks onsite at the startup’s location. My team and I were paired with an e-logistics startup based in Nairobi, Kenya. I was fortunate to have an incredible team of culturally curious, hard-working colleagues who taught me about logistics, data analytics, and people management. G-Lab resulted in one of the highlights of my experience at Sloan, opening my eyes to the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa and establishing new close relationships that will endure.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Co-founding, auggi, my consumer health startup that helps individuals with gut disorders better manage their condition. Launching a health tech startup and learning how to become an entrepreneur was a key goal of mine for the MBA. I am proud I was able to ‘stay true’ to my mission and to have achieved successful milestones like being accepted into MIT’s delta v summer accelerator, a competitive program for MIT founders, and winning the Cornell Tech $100K Startup Award with my co-founder, David Hachuel, who was a graduate student at Cornell Tech. I am particularly proud of the team we were able to build, the technologies we deployed and the partnerships we established. I now know why entrepreneurship can be a little addicting; building something out of nothing and having that thing solve someone else’s problem to the point they want to pay for it is exhilarating.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Miro Kazakoff, lecturer in Managerial Communications at MIT Sloan. It’s hard to overstate the dedication Miro has for teaching. Miro was my instructor for Sloan’s core semester communications class: 15.280 Communicating for Leaders. Coming into the MBA, I thought I knew how to express my thoughts in a concise and structured way. I didn’t. This course, and the thoroughness of its instructor, has been one of the highlights of my MBA experience. Miro also leads the most atypical course I took as part of the MBA, “12 Hours of Storming, Norming and Performing: Team Building in Adversity”. This is a military-modeled exercise that takes 34 MBA students through the city of Boston at night (8 pm to 8 am) presenting them with intense physical and mental challenges (e.g. carry 120-pound bags of sand for 9 miles). This experience transformed the way I think about personal limits and working in teams under stressful situations. I’m currently taking Miro’s 15.286 Communicating with Data course and I’m feeling just like I did during my first semester: enlightened by how much more I have to learn and delighted by Miro’s teaching approach and dedication.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition at Sloan is the Pre-f(x)s, or pre-functions. Every year, 2nd-year MBA students organize and lead around 20 short, 3-5 day trips around the world with groups of ~25 incoming 1st-year MBAs right before classes start. I both participated and led pre-f(x) trips as an incoming 1st-year and as a 2nd-year. Both were incredible experiences, as an incoming 1st-year MBA the Pre-f(x) trip to Colorado allowed me to foster relationships with 20 people who were familiar faces when school kicked off the week after. As an organizer, I had a blast. Not only did I have great 2nd year colleagues organizing the trip with me, but I also had the chance to build strong relationships with incoming 1st-year MBA students. We organized a Pre-f(x) to Puerto Rico, and being from the Dominican Republic, it was personally gratifying to bring a group of people from all over the world to a neighboring Caribbean country.

Why did you choose this business school? Sloan was a no-brainer for me. I had (and still have) 4 general reasons for it:

  1. MIT’s motto “Mens et Manus”:  Latin for ‘mind and hand’, is a perfect description of MIT as an academic institution. I wanted to pursue an MBA where the core mission of the institution is to bring learnings from the classroom into the real-world, to take action.
  2. Sloan’s integration with the rest of the Institute: I wanted to attend a school where the MBA program was not the center of attention, but rather just one of its many parts of a larger ecosystem.
  3. Sloan’s flexible academic program: Since my #1 goal for the MBA was to start a company, I needed the flexibility to design an MBA curriculum that would optimize my learning experience as an entrepreneur.
  4. Collaborative ecosystem: I recently met a Slonie who was part of the class that started the phrase ‘Sloanies helping Sloanies’. The concept of helping your colleagues continues to permeate Sloan’s culture. I knew I would need a collaborative ecosystem to build a company, and I found it at Sloan.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Have a clear view of why you want to pursue an MBA and what you want to get out of it. Your post-MBA goals may change during the MBA, but I believe you need to have a very clear intention and set of goals when applying. Once you have a strong answer for “why an MBA”, then think about which programs fit best your needs. If that program happens to be MIT Sloan, then think critically about what aspects of Sloan and MIT align with your answer to “Why an MBA”. Generally, I recommend people to think of the MBA application as a mural or a canvas that you paint with your previous experience and future aspirations for the admissions committee.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I have one regret of my time at MIT Sloan: not applying to the MIT Legatum Fellows Program. The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship offers a wealth of resources to students interested in launching startups with applications in emerging markets. Having grown-up in the Dominican Republic, there are a lot of opportunities I would’ve explored had I realized the magnitude of impact and wealth of resources the Legatum Center actually has.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are a lot of people I admire at Sloan, but if I have to pick one, I’d talk about my core team member, Rahul Agarwal. Rahul embodies many of the things I love about MIT and Sloan in particular. He is the literal representation of “computer science meets management“ and is one of the most unassuming, down-to-Earth, collaborative colleagues I’ve met at Sloan. A Stanford graduate who spent his time prior to Sloan developing and implementing machine learning applications, Rahul has a knack for bringing together people and building communities in an organic way. Rahul exemplified the concept of ‘Sloanies helping Sloanies’ the first day we met when he introduced me to a close friend of his and subject matter expert who would help shape the future of my startup. I’ve always admired his sense of self-awareness, dedication to pursue his goals, charting his own path, and for his ability to provide candid feedback when it is most needed. I hope to learn more from him over the course of the semester and to replicate many of his practices post my time at Sloan.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father, who spent his life working for his father’s business and pursued a business-related degree himself, inspired me to pursue a degree in Economics and Finance. Growing up, I spent summers and winter breaks working at my family’s business in the Dominican Republic, a national wholesale importer and distributor of wood, ironware, ceramics, and hardware. I remember feeling ‘business’ was part of my identity. As I witnessed my grandfather’s success in building a national corporation and my dad’s leadership in it, I became convinced that if my grandfather is able to do it, so am I.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Developing a product (software, hardware or service) that is used by at least 1 in 10 people I meet and has a tangible impact on people’s quality of life.
  2. Launching and/or leading a non-profit focused on improving the quality of life of those in most need, either in the immigration space or the healthcare space.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a relentless, ambitious leader who is passionate about starting new things that help others, is not afraid to pursue his goals (even when those include funny computer vision applications), and who will always be there to lend a supportive hand, or just grab a beer and catch up.

Hobbies? Outdoor activities (i.e. skiing, hiking, or generally exercising outside), reading autobiographies, learning a little about every language I encounter and trying exotic, non-traditional foods.

What made Alfonso such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Entrepreneurs know entrepreneurs, and Alfonso is an absolutely fantastic Entrepreneur. Alfonso has been my TA twice now, all while founding his new business Auggi and being a phenomenal addition to the MIT Sloan family. Being a CEO requires you to strike amazing balances. Realistic burn rates against motivating vision. Stubborn enough to see a vision while remaining open-minded enough to mold to the market. A fantastic listener while being a motivating leader. A person who can convince someone to mortgage their dream to join his.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Alfonso will be a successful CEO in the near future. He’s a master of balance.”

Dip Patel
Chief Technology Officer at Soluna and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship


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