Online university created by Cubans with almost a million users

The creators of the project. Photo: Facebook EducUp

By Laura Seco Pacheco (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES — They say Cubans don’t go to the moon because they don’t want to. This phrase has been repeated until death in all sorts of contexts, and it showcases Cubans’ inventiveness and determination to achieve whatever they set their minds to.

In line with this inventiveness and this determination, the creators of EducUp, an EdTech[i] created by three Cubans: a mathematician, a software engineer and an online entrepreneur.

“We are three Cuban-American founders, all living in Miami, with an interesting mix of entrepreneurs, educators and engineers,” says Carlos Raul Garcia, computer engineer and one of the project’s founders.

He is joined by Yamel Barroso, a businessman with a long career building businesses in Spain and the United States, and Yusnier Viera, a math whiz and mental calculator, who holds three Guinness World Records for mental calendar calculations.

The team is much larger and is made up of engineers, designers, professors, almost all Cubans living in Panama, the UK, Spain, Bulgaria and Havana, of course.

EducUp has been providing technological solutions to education issues since 2019. This platform aims to make learning fun, simple and accessible via a free downloadable mobile application.

“We have more than 50 courses focusing on languages ​​such as English, Portuguese and German, math for all levels, personal finance, digital marketing, etc.,” explains Carlos Raul.

For this, they have created their own teaching method: GET (gamification + educators + tutors). Based on this, they combine lessons taught by world-class educators with tailored learning in the hands of a tutor, in a fun environment, where students learn while having fun.

The founders had been working on other projects since 2015, which slowly built the foundations of what the platform is today. It should soon cross the milestone of one million students in 175 countries.

Carlos Raul talks to elTOQUE about the past, present and future of EducUp.

What was the process for creating a startup?

“Creating a startup is an intense, passionate and emotional work experience. As many people say, it’s a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainties. It’s like jumping off a cliff and putting together a plane while you’re falling. It’s definitely a chaotic experience at times, full of action and challenges. But it’s also rewarding, you learn and grow so much, humanly and professionally. You come out of it much stronger in all aspects, regardless of the outcome.

They were recently selected to be part of the On Deck startup accelerator, how beneficial has this been for the project?

“We are very pleased to have been selected for ODX as it represents not only our first external capital for EducUp, but also the support of one of the strongest networks of founders, consultants and investors in the world.”

What are the next steps for EducUp? Do you plan to branch out to Cuba at some point?

“One of our goals in the first half of this year is to withdraw our investment seed capital and reach four million students by the end of 2023. Our vision is to become the enterprise of world’s most impressive education, changing the way people learn about any subject, making learning fun and enjoyable for billions of people around the world.

“We are very interested in taking our platform to Cuba, as this is where we were born and raised. In fact, we have many students learning English there at the moment. This is our main objective regarding the Cuban public living on the island. There are hurdles, of course, like the need to use the internet (we expect to fix that soon) and how to pay for lessons.

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[i] EdTech refers to companies, startups and organizations dedicated to education using technology.

Learn more about Cuba here on Havana Times.

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