2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Brikap, ESADE Business School


ESADE Business School

Industry: EdTech – Social Impact

Founding Student Name(s): Juliana Vélez

Brief Description of Solution: Brikap is an educational platform for adults driven by artificial intelligence, aiming to bridge educational gaps while providing technical training to vulnerable single mothers with low education levels. Through a practical and interactive methodology based on adult learning, Brikap customizes the learning journey of each user, prioritizing active problem-solving and maintaining a continuous feedback cycle to ensure skill development.

Funding Dollars: Starting pre-seed fundraising.

What led you to launch this venture? While working at Red Bull, I met Paola, a teenage mom whose circumstances forced her to drop school at 15 years old, making it difficult for her to finish studying due to the existing educational tools. Paola resumed her studies at age 37 with her daughters’ support. I felt amazed by her story of fighting for her dreams against all odds. Thanks to that perseverance, she was hired as an HR assistant in my company, and I became her mentor for over two years.

During this time, I focused on her development and helped her go through her learning journey. I understood the challenges and gaps that individuals like Paola face after spending most of their lives with limited education. I also came to know the daily struggles they endure and the impact these have on their lives. This experience helped me discover my life passion.

With her story in mind, I delved deeper into the problem. I found out that, in Colombia, 44% of our families are female-headed, of which 65% live in poverty or extreme poverty. Paola is just one of approximately 10.9 million single mothers with low educational levels in Colombia. Most developing countries with high teenage fertility rates share this reality. Since the lack of education perpetuates a generational poverty cycle, I felt the need to do something to solve this problem and cut this vicious circle.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? We gained a deep understanding of the issue and a viable solution through extensive surveys, in-depth conversations, and valuable feedback from over 250 single mothers. Utilizing these insights, we developed a prototype of the platform, actively seeking and incorporating feedback. This effort has gathered interest from three foundations, indicating potential partnerships. Simultaneously, our online Facebook community for education for single mothers, with 89 members, has experienced organic growth, highlighting the need for a solution.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? Identifying a viable solution for such a deep and complex problem was challenging because there were many factors to integrate, such as diverse educational backgrounds, heavy work and domestic loads, economic barriers, and problematic social contexts. Engaging in conversations and receiving feedback from numerous single mothers helped me find a way to tackle the issue.

Given the nature of the problem and that my target market is vulnerable women, I know we will face multiple challenges along the way. But I see them as opportunities to innovate and find tailored solutions for them.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The Esade MBA was a life-changing experience as it broadened my perspective, exposing me to diverse realities, knowledge, and countless possibilities. The strong emphasis on social impact at Esade, especially through the Social Impact Lab, significantly shaped my decision to pursue my passion. Additionally, the collaborative spirit at Esade enabled me to forge friendships that have been invaluable support and encouragement in building my startup.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you?  An entrepreneur whom I deeply admire is Luis von Ahn, the founder of Duolingo. I admire him not only for his success in all his ventures, but also because I share many of his values. He has democratized access to language education for millions worldwide, finding original ways to monetize the business without risking its social mission. I consider him highly innovative in finding solutions that disrupt industries.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? It’s hard to pick just one class since most courses provide essential knowledge for startup creation. However, Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing was one of the most important. It exposed me to concepts and ideas that during my undergraduate days, were unfamiliar in Colombia. It wasn’t until my MBA that I first heard about them. This course introduced me to the fundamental principles and practical examples, making me realize what I wanted to do moving forward.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Naomi Williams played a meaningful role in my entrepreneurship journey. In her Racial Injustice class, I learned how social issues can transform into structural barriers, affecting individuals’ progress and perpetuating their vulnerability. This understanding was crucial for tackling the challenges my startup aimed to address. Additionally, she was my career advisor, offering unwavering support throughout my decision-making process to become an entrepreneur.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Growing up surrounded by family members who have successfully navigated the business world has provided me with knowledge beyond formal education and fostered a mindset of resilience and adaptability. Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, their guidance and support have played an invaluable role in my startup development, filling it with encouragement and valuable insights and lessons.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? The long-term goal is to revolutionize adult education by creating technology that enables the development of essential skills that contribute to an enhanced quality of life. Additionally, we aim to break down barriers to ensure that all vulnerable adults can access high-quality education.


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