IE University alum’s startup to revolutionize Spain’s senior-housing sector

@Ana Escobar

After leaving IE University, Pablo Otero has launched his own startup based on providing easy access to housing for senior citizens. We sat down with Pablo to talk about his new venture and hear about his experience here at IE University.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Pablo Otero. I graduated from IE University in 2016 after studying the Bachelor in Business Administration in Madrid. During the last two years of my degree, I went on an exchange to Singapore to focus on financial studies.

After working for almost three years in M&A, I decided to launch my own business called Báculum, which is a social startup that’s revolutionizing the senior-living industry in Spain.

Báculum-residencias-de-mayores

Can you explain the idea and the project?

In short, Báculum is the Booking.com for senior assisted living.

There are currently nine million senior citizens in Spain, and ever-increasing life expectancy means the elderly population is predicted to rise to 14 million senior citizens in the next 20 years. This increased demand for assisted living is attracting Private Equity Firms, such as CVC or Portobello, to invest in senior facilities, making the market more competitive.

Báculum is a platform that gives senior citizens access to specialized facilities for alzheimer care, treating wounds, assisted living, temporary stays, etc.

How has your experience at IE University helped you launch a startup?

From the outset, IE University has helped me develop my entrepreneurial mindset. In the first semester, Professor Leticia Ponce guided us through the process of designing a full business plan. Her Business Management class taught me how to take a problem-solving approach, while also learning how to monetize ideas, identify difficulties and threats, and build a competitive advantage.

At the end of the semester, my team and I pitched Uni2u, and Professor Ponce encouraged us to launch a real business at the Entrepreneurship Lab. We never did turn it into a business in the end because of a mixture of inexperience and fear. Even so, the two months we spent in the Campus of Segovia working on the idea have really helped me to create Báculum.

Then, in my second, third and fourth years, my new team and I made it through to the regional finals of the Hult Prize, a world social entrepreneurship competition that takes place in Dubai and Shanghai.

In my second year, for example, presenting our solution to the national health crisis in Peru, we competed against 10,000 other participants as the only undergraduate entrants. We made it through to the final four, alongside three other teams with an average age of 30. Getting to that point as the youngest team in the final was a huge achievement that completely surpassed our expectations.

Hult-prize-ie-euniversity-fourth-place

I will always be thankful to IE University, who supported us on these wonderful adventures.

For anyone who wants to create their own business, IE University is one of the best places to be in Europe. The entrepreneurial ecosystem and organizational support make things much easier and more fun!

What are the next steps?

After six months, Báculum has achieved a stable level of sales that covers our operations expenses and growth investment.

Our next milestones are:

  1. Solving operational inefficiencies with the technology
  2. Improving our product by getting new nursing ho.mes onto the platform, and developing a follow-up app for family accommodation.
  3. Testing new solutions for seniors, as a first step, we are developing a project focused on hearing aids; Audífonos.

The timing of both milestones depends on decisions regarding financing and the team.

Why do you think it is important to have an entrepreneurial mindset at university?

I think it’s important to have an entrepreneurial mindset everywhere and at every stage in life. There are some people who wait for 20 minutes for a burger, complain, and end up eating it anyway, and those who see the queue as a business opportunity. Some people accept things the way they are, while others work to improve things.

Like with any other skill, entrepreneurship can be learned. IE University helps you develop the mindset and grow it until you become a real entrepreneur. 

What advice would you give to a student who wants to create a startup at university?

My advice is to get the most out of your educational experience. No one is going to support you unless you actively look for support. However, if you manage to get the attention of IE University, they will help you in the difficult path of entrepreneurship—which is simply incredible.

Báculum-co-founder

At IE University, we are proud of our students’ endless talent. Which his drive, passion and innovative mindset, Pablo is a perfect example what makes IE University stand out as a dynamic hub of entrepreneurship. We wish Pablo the very best of luck as he continues in his venture, and look forward to seeing what comes next!