Xavier Rubio Was Not a Good Student. Now He Has a Successful Virtual Reality Educational Startup.
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Xavier Rubio was such a bad student that now his teachers would not believe that he became one of the best entrepreneurs in Latin America in the education sector with his company called Pixdea , which transforms a school classroom into a virtual reality room. It operates in Honduras (its country of origin), Costa Rica and Chile. Soon it will enter Mexico.
The pandemic arrived and the face-to-face classes were put on hiatus, what did it mean for Pixdea ? Allocate efforts to other sectors (apart from education). The result was very positive. They opened an area specialized in virtual reality for companies. They currently work with global companies such as ESSITY and have added revenues of more than 100K. COVID-19 didn't stop Pixdea's growth. On the contrary, today its founder feels more driven to resume face-to-face classes.
Xavier remembers that as a child he was diagnosed with hyperactivity and attention deficit. “For me there is no such disorder. There are just very boring schools; and some kids can't stand that. They stand up and leave the classroom. That's what happened to me, ”says Xavier Rubio, CEO of Pixdea in an interview for Entrepreneur in Spanish .
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Its success is due to the quality of its local and international content in different languages; and easy to implement. That's why Pixdea managed to advance to the Seedstars 2020 global final, a competition for the most innovative entrepreneurs in emerging markets. He didn't win first place, but is already in talks to get venture capital and angel investors as a result of being at Seedstars .
Xavier Rubio learned to do virtual reality in a self-taught way. Your background is not technology. He studied international business and marketing, a master's in finance, and an MBA.
For this entrepreneur there is no total success, rather it is a path full of small achievements. The main thing he recommends to Entrepreneur readers is the following:
“You have to fail a lot and have skin of steel or dragon scales so that the fire does not affect you. In failure is learning and the tusk of an entrepreneur. Don't be afraid to fail or be wrong; because failing is part of the road to success. "
Xavier Rubio / Image: Courtesy
His first businesses: selling collector cards; and mangoes with chili and lemon
Since he was a child, Xavier Rubio was always thinking about his next business. He first started selling collectible cards; then mangoes with lemon and salt at 10 years. At the age of 14 he gave the gardening and car wash service in the neighborhood where he lived. At 18 he was studying a career, had a job and a pallet marketing company with which he sometimes earned $ 1,700 a week (approximately 34,000 pesos). It also exported rambutan from Honduras to Miami.
When he saw a team in the US to remove the rubber left by planes when landing, he set up Aguablast, a company that provided the same service to the Honduras airport. It started with a small pump and grew to a truck with a huge pump. With this machine he also provided cleaning services to all Mormon churches in his country. They were his biggest customer and in the end they bought the company from him.
Along with Aguablast, Xavier founded a magazine called Colibrí focused on different topics to improve people's lives. With the proceeds of this publication, he carried out restoration works in the community with the support of volunteers and sponsoring companies.
After these endeavors, Xavier had a job at a technology firm as a marketing director. Eight months later he resigned and founded Pixdea in early 2017 in Costa Rica. At first I was doing virtual reality to sell real estate projects already built. With a minimum viable product, Xavier went out to sell and after two days he had a turnover of 26,000 dollars (around 520,000 pesos) when he got two large real estate developers as clients.
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Achievements began with Pixdea: Technological Innovation Award (PIT) in 2017. In 2018 it won first place in the Yo Emprendedor competition. That same year he was chosen as one of the 30 Forbes Business Promises; it obtained the INCAE Entrepreneur Award and the recognition of the Costa Rican Chamber of Construction as the most innovative company in the construction sector.
In 2020 Pixdea was part of the Startup Chile generation, one of the most important business accelerators in the world. This same year, they were finalists for the IDB PLAY (EDTECH competition); which represents being one of the 10 solutions identified by the Inter-American Development Bank to implement Pixdea in LATAM.
“We started Pixdea by turning a property into a virtual environment, however, we realized in 2018 that it was not scalable. And we loved education so much that we gave more focus to this segment. Although creating educational experiences takes a lot more work. The programming is much higher. But I have never stopped studying ”, says the entrepreneur.
What is the business model?
Pixdea generates income through an annual membership of $ 60 (approximately 1,200 pesos) paid by the school for each student. In this way, students have unlimited access to all content. Pixdea also creates tailored training modules for different businesses. They also conduct free educational tours in cooperation with private companies.
To date, more than 8,000 students have tried Pixdea technology. Its market is large: 163 million students in Latin America. By the end of this year Pixdea expects to add 10,000 public school users in partnership with Racsa, the Costa Rican state Internet provider.
“In education there is a huge business; specifically developing a program so that schools can have their own virtual reality classroom. We have signed contracts for $ 200,000 and the purchase intentions total over $ 400,000 ”, says Xavier Rubio, founder of Pixdea.
With the virtual reality produced by Pixdea they can take students to any place and time in history. The first educational experience that Xavier and his team created was a trip to the solar system where students sit in a spaceship and get to know each planet.
“We tested this first project in private schools in Costa Rica and it was very well received. The feedback from the children was very good. They told us that they really liked learning this way. Other content we have is the cellular world, the Mayan world and putting together the world map ”, he explains.
With the virtual reality produced by Pixdea they can take students to any place and time in history / Image: Depositphotos.com
His greatest passion and what defines him as an entrepreneur
What excites Xavier Rubio most about entrepreneurship is that despite so many needs and uncertainties it is possible to exploit creativity to solve many problems with the least amount of resources available.
What most defines him as an entrepreneur is being very hungry and thirsty to learn; besides being too curious. “My expertise or the most important value that I can bring to the company are all these new ideas that are the product of seeing and reading a lot of content from other areas or industries. But with a little twist it can be adapted to what we do. I consider myself a specialist in innovation and generation of new business models ”.
As a founder, you believe that it is not necessary to borrow for your business. What is required is to have a lot of creativity and that the same sales are the ones that finance your entire project. However, although he had never thought of raising capital, he is now in the process of doing so. "This education got so out of hand that we do need to get investors to increase production exponentially", concludes the founder of Pixdea.