Five years ago, I decided to leave Venezuela to pursue a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering at Boston University. I considered several options, but thought Boston would offer me the greatest exposure to high-tech and top notch research in my field. Little did I know how right I was.
Once here, I started meeting like-minded people who shared my passion for technology. I was lucky enough to come across the Cambridge Hackspace, a maker space that lured me in with its “robot nights” and laser cutters. It is an amazing community of hackers and makers with a broad range of backgrounds and one thing in common – a passion for bringing things to life. It was there where I met my co-founder, Arnar, and how my journey with Tyme Wear began.
After finishing my Master’s, I had three years of OPT (Optional Practical Training) and was legally able to keep working for my company. During these three years we have made a lot of progress on our Smart Shirts, raised some money, showcased our product in various events, and learned a lot from our potential customers. I was so focused on our business that I almost forgot about a crucial detail – my immigration status in the US. I greatly underestimated how complicated the process would be. Within the blink of an eye, we were already in our 3rd year of working together, and I was left questioning my future with Tyme Wear and living in the US. We applied for the capped H1-B but, unfortunately, it was not selected in the lottery. Shortly thereafter, I learned that at the time I applied my chance of being selected in the lottery was below 30%. I considered several other options but none of them were feasible. Those months were very stressful times.
Then, I caught a lucky break. I heard from a friend and fellow entrepreneur, about UMass Boston’s Global Entrepreneur In Residence program (GEIR) which runs within their Venture Development Center (VDC) and offers an innovative immigration solution for international entrepreneurs like me. In return, I would teach students and professors about what I like the most – technology. The community at the VDC is absolutely phenomenal. Everyone is very collaborative and kind. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.
I’ve lectured and mentored for several classes, including software and hardware development courses. One of the most fulfilling experiences was preparing Professor Tomas Materdey’s students for a NASA technology transfer competition in Houston, TX. Students were assigned a technology developed by NASA, and they had to come up with a feasible application and a product around it. They then had to present in front of NASA engineers and technology specialists. It was fun working with a group of talented and passionate students. At the same time, I felt that I was able to transfer some of what I’ve learned in my entrepreneurial journey, and make a real impact on these students’ careers. At the end of the competition, I was happy to learn that they ended up getting a 2nd place!
UMass Boston is one of the most diverse universities in New England, and I am thrilled to be part of this global community and share my experiences with its students and professors.
Juan is a co-founder and CTO of Tyme Wear, a smart shirt that helps personalize training sessions by assessing metabolic profile from breathing. Having personalized baselines allows Tyme Wear to create customized training plans to help people reach their goals faster and more efficiently. Juan has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Computer Engineering from Boston University. He started his career as a Field Engineer at Schlumberger, extracting and interpreting electrical signals from sensors inside oil and gas wells. After that, he started consulting for companies in the IoT world, helping them to bring new products to the market, from concept to production. As a Global Entrepreneur in Residence at the VDC, he brings his expertise in product development and mentors students and faculty to develop their ideas, with a highly hands-on approach. His general office hours at the VDC are once a week, and days vary depending on the week and schedule. Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org schedule a meeting.