A Brazilian Entrepreneur Makes it to MIT Sloan
MER Client Eduardo Schuch feels strongly about social issues and has a passion for using technology to improve human lives. As an entrepreneur in the field of technology, he has worked on many life-changing projects. He applied to 3 M-7 schools- Stanford, MIT Sloan, and Berkeley Haas. He was accepted by MIT and waitlisted by Haas. He is heading to MIT in Fall.
Eduardo Schuch is CEO and Co-founder at a Technology Startup, Seedin. He is also working as a Senior Analyst at Mars.
And now presenting Eduardo …………
Poonam: Hello, Eduardo! How are you doing? Thanks for taking the time for the meeting us.
Eduardo: Hi Poonam, it is my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Poonam: Congratulations on receiving admit offer from MIT, an M7 school. How does it feel?
Eduardo: It feels amazing. I am an engineer and have always worked with innovation and technology, so MIT was always the reference dream school to me. It is a long process, and you kind of think it will not work in the meantime, so I am happy and excited about the next years.
Poonam: Would you please tell our viewers about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What you do now?
Eduardo: Sure, Poonam. I am an engineer entrepreneur from Brazil, who also loves design and is interested in neuroscience to understand how the brain and emotions work. I have got a varied background and over my entire career, I have tried to engage in innovation highly technological ideas. I did my mechanical engineering at Unioeste in the south of Brazil. My first job was in a ski station in California during a long vacation.
I had then moved to the Netherlands with a full-tuition scholarship to study Automotive Engineering. Over there, I worked with self-driving cars for BMW, failed to build a turbine that flies over the ocean to get most of the wind. Later, I constructed the first solar oven in the world capable of cooking at night in isolated places in Africa where people still cook with woods. After that, I started to learn German and went to Germany to work with risk analysts for the petrochemical plants.
Later, I came back to Brazil and was chosen over +20K candidates for IBM’s trainee program for the business. In the next five years, I implemented Artificial Intelligence projects, in a variety of industries around Brazil, both in big companies and in my startup. I worked with consulting and sales of Artificial intelligence solutions, reporting directly to the CTO. I did accomplish some breakthrough ideas, built an innovation team that had people from the design lab, from the research to work with me in the sales. I worked for the expansion of Artificial intelligence solutions, reporting directly to the CTO, and achieved great transformations in the company.
I thought a leader needed to understand the brain and emotions, so I studied human behavior and neuroscience. Mixing these with startups concepts, I led the creation of a highly successful team that accomplished several transformational projects over the country. Later, I was responsible for the expansion of the Artificial intelligence market in Brazil through a chain of partners and startups.
With a desire to work in great causes that transform people’s lives, I launched a technology startup Seedin with three partners. We work with complex partnership chains, which allow us to use other high technologies and be in a variety of industries. And we have nice cases. Additionally, I joined Mars and have been working with Artificial Intelligence in 80 countries to get resources for the MBA and learn how big companies deals globally with experience.
Eduardo: Sure. So, for a significant part of my life, success meant to hold a high hierarchy position in a big company. And I was doing that path and joined IBM. As I said, I was chosen over +20K candidates for IBM’s trainee program, won 4 prizes for outstanding performance, and got two promotions in less than three years. To be honest, I worked like crazy.
At the same time, outside IBM, I was in contact with many entrepreneurs and small companies that had brilliant ideas but could not afford our high technology, and we did not invest in them. By that time, the company was passing through an important moment of cultural change. Though I could be the ‘change’ of the company, I didn’t feel inspired by the leaders’ values. My values did not match their values, I was unhappy, and I realized there was more to life than doing things just for achieving things and earning money.
So, I quit with three partners to build our company. My main purpose now was to do projects that can transform lives. That is why we are investing in social projects in Brazil that require high technology. We invest our knowledge of innovative ideas to enhance experiences in people’s lives; it is an extremely fulfilling experience. I am dealing with different technologies, companies from all sizes and people, and am passing through tough situations.
Eduardo: There are two main reasons why I want to pursue MBA. The first one is to gain skills. I have gone through intense corporate experiences and have also been managing my startup over the past years, but I learned everything in a try and error manner. I did not have proper training. Now I want to take a step back and use the MBA program to gain skills in an academic setting that I cannot learn practically.
Second, I want to change people’s mindsets. I believe this is something that people from developing countries will understand. Latin America is still risk-averse, so things take time to happen here. Brazil has a natural resources-based economy where we are pulling things out of the ground and making money out of it. Still, we do not have a mindset of high technology or investing high knowledge. It is not a high-tech knowledge-based economy. There are few incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship – and those few people that decide to work with it, struggle. For the sustainability of the future, we have to start to switch this mindset and find new paths. This is one of the things that I want to learn by doing an MBA. Since we do not have many investments, internships, and entrepreneurship, people who invest wish to learn how to overcome these barriers and develop our country in terms of technology.
Poonam: What are your career goals?
Eduardo: So, my future goal is to become an international leader who can catalyze innovations in the country and work on Artificial Intelligence in Latin America. I want to be inside that kind of culture to learn how to overcome barriers. I want to diversify my network and broaden my perspective, take my innovations to the next level, develop huge impacts through Artificial Intelligence in Latin America and learn with the best how to become a great leader with a global mindset. I am willing to devote my life to working on life-changing transformations and giving people unique experiences through creativity, science, and technology. My true goal is to become an international leader catalyst of innovation in Latin America.
Poonam: Highly impressive. So, how you think MIT will help you achieve your goals?
Eduardo: When researching my schools, I was not looking only for a business school. For me, it was essential to be inside an ecosystem that allows me to be also a part of some cutting-edge technologies that I could have access to on another campus. This is the main reason for selecting MIT Sloan. It is not only a business school but also a university that gives incentives for innovations and where I can have access to a broader campus. Sloan is unique in the sense that it is in the middle of everything. There are many classes with students from diverse departments, exposure to the newest researches and entrepreneurs. So being on a campus where people are working on cutting edge technologies, where amazing innovations are happening in many fields will be inspiring.
Harvard is also close by, so I can take some classes together. These cross-connections spark new ideas, new products, and new companies. One thing that many people don`t know is that MIT is not only a technology program; it also has a vast entrepreneurship community and culture. There is a track for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. There are labs, clubs, and even a 100k Entrepreneurship competition where you can join students from any department of MIT to build your startup over the program.
Poonam: Can you tell us about your GMAT prep? What was your strategy to get a 700 + score?
Eduardo: I wanted to apply this year, so I started to study for the GMAT in August. It was four months of preparation in total, and I took the GMAT twice. Your life can be much easier if you understand how the test works. I did not have any close friends who could give me some initial tips for the GMAT, so I started my preparation reading from many sources. The first one was the Official Guide, which I believe can give you a strong base to understand your weak points, strong points, and where to focus afterward.
I have two big tips for those who are studying for the GMAT. First, it is crucial to understand how the test works; I failed on my first attempt because of that. It is adaptive testing, so when you get the questions right, your score goes up, and when you get the question wrong, it goes down. So you must manage your time and risks and decide which questions are worth doing and which ones you can skip. It is also vital that you finish the test; the last questions can be a substantial uphill or downhill on your score. In my first attempt, I did not have time to complete the test, and my score was 630.
Second, GMAT is all about practicing. The theory is not that hard, but you need to be quick in understanding the type of question you are facing and how to answer it. My score went up when I started to practice the test in real conditions. There are many mock adaptive tests available on the internet, and I did more than 10. Over these four months, my routine was studying for 2 hours at night every day during weekdays. And on Saturday and Sunday, I did a full mock test in the morning and learned all the questions (even the correct ones) in the afternoon. My score was 710, which is a good score. If possible, I will start to prepare sooner, probably six months of preparation is a good goal.
Poonam: You do not need to. You have already gotten into a top tech program. Can you share your application strategy, planning, and preparation with our audience/ readers?
Eduardo: I think my real preparation started some years ago when I decided to pursue an MBA. The application is all about a self-knowledge exercise, and you keep questioning yourself what your real values are, how is your profile, what would you like to do in your life. I always loved innovation, solve big problems, and work on social causes, and I focused my career on it. So when I got into the phase of planning my application, I had already done a lot of the self -analysis, but I still had to build the strategy about how to present it on paper.
Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admission process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Eduardo: Apart from the GMAT, the biggest challenge for me was to choose my stories. I knew I had a lot of great stories, but my challenge was to how to tell them to the Ad Co, and that, too, in such a small available space on the essays. It was by far the most challenging task to me, and that is where you helped me a lot, Poonam. If you remember, my first draft was like a big document, around two pages, I did not know how to cut it and make it crisp. You organized my stories and kept them connected. Your organization skills are solid. Thank you, Poonam, you greatly helped me in improving my essays. Also, you made me feel optimistic that I had proper attention to all steps of the application. The exercise in listening up my accomplishments and positively critique my work helped me to understand the parts I should focus on and improve. Overall, it boosted confidence!
Poonam: I enjoyed working with you. What would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?
Eduardo: It is a long process. You cannot write your essays in one week. A big tip is not to apply to your dream school as the first application. You learn and improve a lot as you go through the application process. I remember my first application was weaker than the last one. You cannot copy from one to another, but perhaps you can use some ideas, maybe 40% of work for other applications and many good ideas will appear with time.
Poonam: I also advise my clients not to apply to your dream school first and keep it towards the end. By that time, you have gone through that process of self-reflection, and you start understanding yourself in a much better way than you did in the first application. It is a process of self-discovery.
Eduardo: Yes, it is true, and I think that most people only realize this in the end. Also, I think it is also good to have a close friend who knows you well to show your essays and get his feedback. I had a friend who helped me a lot and sincerely told me how he felt about my essays, which helped me to write some things about myself that I hadn`t thought before.
Poonam: True. As an entrepreneur in the field of technology, you have worked on many life-changing projects. Can you name a project that is close to your heart? Why?
Eduardo: I would like to talk about two fast ideas if you don`t mind. The first one is about innovation and the second one about social responsibility.
During my studies in the Netherlands, I was engaged in the renewable energy lab. I met an inventor who had visited villages in Africa that they had no gas or electricity, and people still used firewood to cook. The smoke caused permanent lung problems, especially in women and kids. It intrigued me, and I tried to figure out a cheap solution for these poor people. The very fact that a family cannot cook dinner at night kept hounding me. After all, a family experience would be weak without cooking a family dinner. We discussed solar ovens, but that would not work at night. We started to work on other possibilities, and after several months of working on this issue, we got the prototype that could work at night. This was a groundbreaking experience, and I thought if I could do a solar oven that cooks without sun, I can do anything. This was the first time that I faced some concepts for innovations. Building a new product typically requires long researches and funds, but gradually prototyping allowed us to test assumptions, quickly fix issues, and make a working stove in a couple of months.
The second project close to my heart is social responsibility. I have a strong sense of social responsibility, and I try to devote almost half of my projects to social causes. We are currently working to combat violence against women, which is a big global issue. These women do not report the crime because they are afraid of being judged, so less than 10% of the cases are reported. Most of the time, the aggressor is in the inner circle of the victim. We thought that technology could help us come up with a solution so that the victims can report anonymously.
We are now constructing an Artificial Intelligence to aid these victims, giving them first assistance, and getting data to work on route causes. After we started this journey, 13 companies joined us. Finally, we were invited to present to several politics in the government, got support from the US Embassy, and the Brazilian minister of justice. Currently, we are establishing the first agent in Latin America who will be able to help such victims. It is still in development, but I love this experience because it shows the power of technology. If we align technology to a great cause, we can start an idea from scratch and engage many people to work for better.
Poonam: I wish you success in this innovation of yours. I am highly impressed by your concern about these social issues. Eduardo, apart from being a successful entrepreneur, you also have other interests and hobbies and have traveled across the world. Can you tell us something about your interests and hobbies?
Eduardo: That is true. Outside of work, I like to keep my body active with sports every day, and I love to go tracking. A few years ago, I was on the Salkantay trail of 100 km until Machu Pichu, and last year I was on the Cotopaxi Volcano in Equador. I get most of my aspirations from discussing new ideas with different people and places I met in 25 countries I have been backpacking. I am also interested in psychology and human behavior. I did a post-graduation in neuroscience which helped me to understand how brain and emotions work, and I use my knowledge of neuroscience on my tech projects.
Poonam: Interesting. Finally, as you know, COVID-19 had turned lives upside down globally. Given the current turmoil and uncertainty created by this international health crisis, what challenges you are anticipating in your MBA experience as an international student in the US.
Eduardo: There will be some impact for sure. We are aware that the visa process might delay, and flights can be canceled. The decisions are changing every day, so the moment is that of uncertainty. For international students, we are worried about not being able to make it on time. I also think we will all need to learn how to work more virtually in the next couple of years, and I am expecting that some classes and labs will change the way they are administered, which can be a good thing.
We also know that the crisis will bring unemployment, and some internship opportunities might be affected. But I am positive that in two years, by the end of the program, things will turn into a good direction, and it will be a good time for hiring.
Well, we know that the world from tomorrow will be different. I think this is a unique moment for innovation. At such moments of crisis, people change values, behaviors, and biggest innovations to find space to happen. I am worried about the situation, but I also have high hopes for the possibility of working on the changes in the world of tomorrow.
Poonam: B Schools have been making lots of changes in their policies in response to the COVID 19 situation. Have you received any updates from MIT?
Eduardo: I have received only small updates so far. The moment is of uncertainty, we are expecting positive things in September, but there is a possibility that we will not be able to start the classes on campus. They told us it is possible that we have a short time of virtual classes, or the start date will be postponed.
Poonam: Thank you for sharing your story with us. It was a pleasure chatting with you. I hope things get better soon. I wish you good luck with your MIT experience and continued success in your career.
You can connect with Eduardo via linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/eduschuch/
You may email Poonam at email@example.com with questions about your application for the 2020-21 admission cycle.