Leti is a social entrepreneur determined to build a bridge between the high tech industry and refugee professionals.
She is an advocate of technology for good and believes in enhancing the diversity of the tech workforce.
She is co-founder and CEO of PAZ a social impact startup whose mission is to unlock the refugee tech talent in Europe by upskilling them in tech and connecting them with work opportunities.
PAZ brings together professionals, companies, and organizations to unfold the potential and untapped talent of refugees in order to create Europe’s most diverse and ethical tech workforce.
In her spare time, she likes to get involved in projects around education, social impact, and tech, where she supports leadership teams around innovation and team culture. She is currently collaborating with Amplio Ventures on the Refugee Starforce book project. She has also collaborated with General Assembly, Samsung, The International Committee of the Red Cross, and Unicef.
This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
Eyup, welcome to the Strategy Session. Today, I’m joined by Leticia Galdon, who is the entrepreneur and founder of Paz.
Leticia, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much.
So tell me today, where are you? You’re in Spain somewhere?
Yeah, I’m in Madrid. I’m freezing, but I’m happy to be here.
Excellent. So tell the listeners about Paz about the project that you’re behind. What is it and what does it do?
So Paz social impact driven startup, we have created a tech talent accelerator program to identify upscale and connect refugee professionals with the tech industry in Europe.
Brilliant, absolutely fantastic. So you connect refugees with the tech industry, you up skill them and help them find jobs, which creates a circular economy effectively for refugees.
Yeah, and also some I mean, many refugees back in their country, they were working in tech or they had skills that easily transferable into what the industry is looking for. So we just make sure that these professionals, not because they are in a refugee situation, suddenly they are condemned to low skilled jobs. The tech industry is in need of this talent. They are competing to find this talent. And we found a way to for companies to do better by doing good and in this way, also solving one of the most pressing humanitarian problems that the world is facing, the fantastic.
So we spoke a couple of weeks ago about something entirely different. And you started telling me the story of how the startup was developed. And it’s a story in my eyes of hope. It’s a story of entrepreneurial vision and it’s also a story of true marketing, from what I can see. So to explore that, what I want to do is want to take us right back to the beginning, because the product has changed and evolved a little bit over time, hasn’t it? So take us right back to where did this idea start, what you did? Did you wake up one morning and go, I know tech program for refugees?
Well, it started with one one thought, let’s say, which was what if the best minds of our generation, together with the best companies and the best technology, would be solving the most pressing problems of humanity. And I’ve been involved in the refugee crises since 2015. I worked directly with people who who were coming to Europe and had lost family members through that journey. And, you know, from the humanitarian side, I was a humanitarian aid worker and I was just frustrated to see a lack of innovation and thinking out of the box to address this population, because in many humanity, I mean, no humanitarian crisis is easy to to address.
But in this case, what I my personal approach to it was this should not be a humanitarian problem because we are making need the way Europe is reacting to to this influx of people and how we are where we are putting them. So a refugee camp that seriously are like prisonlike conditions. And it’s like that’s where you start when you don’t let people just integrate, you are creating a problem. They are not the problem. So with all of that having to play the role of just operating from the bottom of the Maslow’s pyramid to just a food, water, shelter, that’s it.
People thought that that was enough. But then when you speak to them, when you when you stop looking at them as a problem, you just go out there with curiosity to ask them, what do you need? Then you realize that they are just people like you and I, but that suddenly life hit them hard and it made them have to start from scratch somewhere new. But they had all least potential. So with all of these, I decided that I didn’t want to just be following orders or mandates that I don’t resonate with.
So I decided to come to London to specialize in violence, conflict and development at SOAS. SOAS has quite some people say, like I like to say this very critical approach to humanitarian intervention, which is let’s not because we are the West, look at others like we are the saviours of the world and they are these poor people in need. But actually the fact that different societies are different method one is better than the other. We can actually all learn from each other.
So through that lens that I got to really master during my my time. And SOAS is how I approach that. So I can I.
Yeah, you said it was SOAS, the company? The organization you mentioned?
Yes. SoAS is the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. And yeah. Sorry, I thought, OK, so when I was doing that I kept reading about.
Violence and genocide and on the core of why people are forced to leave their countries and my best friend was in the other side like complete opposite, he was at that point, he was the head of growth at Udacity, which is an ethical company in Silicon Valley. They were doing the European expansion. And so he was his day to day was just, you know, talking about education and driving cars and and getting people to learn those skills to make sure that the they are never out of the job market and.
He’s an entrepreneur, and he every time I saw him and he asked me, how was your day, I would just start crying. And just because of all the big problems I was reading about, I had faced already. And luckily, he said, let the inner you know, if you care so much about these, what are you going to do about it? And I always said that being entrepreneur meant you have to come up with this great idea that has to work from day one.
And and if it doesn’t, it means you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur. But he started to introduce me to all these big founders and different startups. And I never realized that actually all you need is to find a problem that is important enough to be solved and just engage with it until you find something that works. It needs to be important for society. So the product at the end is bought or successful. But also it needs to be important to you because as entrepreneurs, you’re going to dedicate a lot of time, money, effort, everything to it.
So you have to. That’s my personal opinion.
So can I just stop for a second? I just want to dive into that because it’s really, really important that entrepreneur entrepreneur isn’t about having an idea or even a solution. It’s sometimes just understanding there’s a problem that needs solving and then throw in your energy at that. That’s a different way to to a lot of people. You know, you sit there thinking, I’d leave my job if only I could. So that’s a slightly different way of approaching it, isn’t it?
Yeah, because it comes from wanting to create value from day one, not wanting to create money from day one. I believe that when you create value, money comes afterwards. However, if you only focus on creating these billion dollar idea, then good luck, because maybe today that’s very popular. But if you didn’t start it on the right track and for me, the right track is understanding the problem really well, as we will see through my story, our product has changed our but would never change.
It was a core was the why, you know, why did we start these and what are we trying to solve?
Yeah. So you start with a purpose at the heart of what you do. I, I was critical. I’m one of the podcasts last year about Mondelēz and they came up with this particular brand purpose called Humouring, which makes no sense. And I’m not going to go into it with far too much. But this is what happens when you talk purpose on to something. So when you start with at the heart of what you do, that’s when brand purpose really, really works for companies and for organizations.
So you you started looking at this differently than you had. You saw a problem that needed solving a problem that mattered to you. What did that take you next?
When the next thing was and I think this definitely is pure marketing, which is we put two ingredients in an equation that they never go together. So humanitarian program, high tech, it’s like, you know, like that people are like, what? What are you on? That first year, I started to spend more and more time with all these big founders, and they took me to a tech startup festival. And I remember that everyone is fancy a FedEx and UPS.
And they asked me and you, what do you do? And I would start telling them about the refugee problem or how I’m trying to to bring a sustainable solution to these. We think. And people were like, I want to be a part of this. And I started the podcast saying that it started with what if the brightest minds of our generation, together with the best companies based technology, this is how it it kind of materialized. I was around people from Google, from over from Amazon, Facebook developers that cost millions and that anyone would want them in their team.
And they were saying, just tell me what you need. I’ll help you. Why? Because people are looking for purpose. My real purpose, like, is not in tech. People don’t want to work for money anymore because they know that money is not a problem. Like when you have a specific set of skills that everyone needs, you start it, but it becomes boring. Why would you use all your talent for more people to click on a Google ad when you can use that talent to save a life?
This is it. I mean, you hear it’s kind of an old phrase now, but you hear someone complain about the American space program, like, why is it not worth leading anymore? And the answer or one of the answers, they think is because all the. In the 1960s and 50s, you used to want to go and work at NASA now all the best talent coming out, all the best schools in America wants to go and work at Google and Facebook and all the startups.
So they have a real battle for talent at NASA, which is one of the reasons they think why they’re not getting to Mars, like they should be doing the things like that, despite the fact they’ve still got quite hefty budgets. So, you know, you get the best talent. It’s what clicking on ads is fulfilling for you after a long period of time. Maybe not. So so people will wanting to come to your startup, even though you didn’t have a product at that point.
Hmm. Yeah, but they came to help understand the problem and see how with their knowledge we could help. And that’s how. So I went to to Greece for a month. I, I went to different refugee camps for more than 10 refugee camps. I talked to more than a thousand refugees, plus hundreds of humanitarian aid workers and grassroots organizations that were operating right there on the ground. And you could ask, but why did you start in Greece?
But Greece was and still is. But back then, this was two thousand seventeen people were most Syrian refugees. Afghan refugees were crossing to Europe from Turkey to Greece. And I I think there’s something very special about a conflict affected refugees, because you can have refugees, any person who’s who is forced to leave their countries because their lives are at risk, because of, for example, the race, their religion, their political views and their sexual orientation, or because their human rights are not being respected or because there is a war know there are different kinds.
And that’s what’s a little stock market thing, is how to create a product that addresses all of them, because there’s the only thing that they have in common is that status, the legal status or of Eyup stateless. I’ve had to leave. My country cannot go back and I need to find this international protection. But that doesn’t make a group similar to each other because they can only be from different socio cultural heritage like Levas. And, you know, education is celebrated, right?
Yeah, we said we are refugees from Libya.
We have refugees from Syria and oh, they’re just refugees, but they are so different. Yeah. So that’s why I chose Greece, because I was a bit obsessed with one specific type of refugee, which is the one who had a normal life in Syria before the war started, was one of the countries in the Middle East with the best education. And I was wondering what happened to them now that, you know, they had to to leave everything, leave all their belongings, their whole lives behind, and they have to start from Syria.
So that was my you know, that that was that group where we started. Now we’ve expanded and we work with any any type of refugees. But I thought for the purposes of any market there, they should know that this is why I like to increase market research as well.
You went and did field research, which is brilliant ethnography, focus groups. Talking of that, you know, this is this is pure marketing. You went out, you didn’t just say this is my solution to the problem. You understand the problem first.
Yeah. And many people were saying, but what is bad in my family? What are you trying to sell? And I could say that will be whatever it needs to be. And people got angry at me, like, can you stop being so philosophical and just tell me what you are into? And I was like, I’m not being philosophical, to be honest. I’m not going to fall in love with any solution until I see light work. So going to these refugee camps and asking the right question, which in this case was.
What do you need and what is missing? What do you think is missing to really help you thrive? Right. And one thing that is any entrepreneur who starts a project, let’s say, needs a small dick that says, what’s the mission, the vision and the hypotheses? Mine was very simple. You had that basically on what the milestones are to start this. And so someone entered. And what I realized was that no one had asked them what they really needed, and we realized in that first market research it was hope.
And when I came back, we was hoping that, you know, is is that how you say. You cannot quantify hope, how are you going to prove you are successful by bringing hope, right? And so the second research, what we realize is the hope means opportunities to move forward. Hope means being able to regain control of their lives and almost detach from the identity of being a refugee and just being a human being, you know, and what made the difference there was having a job being employed because any citizen I here I want everyone to be to think about if they’ve ever been in a situation where they are not working.
It makes it makes a huge difference in society is like those who are working, they are entitled. They are almost like better citizens, you know, because I have a job and those who don’t, it’s almost as if you are at the edge of social exclusion, if you are to long out of a job because. But that’s our own conception, right? So every human being has that. And I started talking about the Maslow’s pyramid because the top of the pyramid is self realization.
And no one in the humanitarian sector is approaching the refugee crisis from the top, which is looking at food, water, all of that is needed to survive, but to actually really, really survive. You also need, you know, a reason for for being
In that in that first year, I I went through one one of the guys that I interviewed, he was 20, I think, and he’s from Afghanistan. I did this interview with him. When I came back to London a week later, I received a call that he killed himself. And I was like, I remember I’m a social worker. So I took it like, how couldn’t I see this coming? The realities of anyone in that point where they’ve they risked everything to come to Europe and suddenly they. They reach Europe and they face this huge wall that they don’t think they’re going to be able to pass.
So for him, he’s like, oh, so we went through all of this for this to end up in this refugee camp where we are know we have zero freedom, zero access to any is like they are citizens or not even citizens. They are humans of far lower category. So, yes, every day I went a little bit out. But no, it’s that’s where we realized that, OK, the civilization is as important as having food, because if you realize that there’s no future for you, that that that’s it.
You can’t take it anymore. And that’s what we try to do.
So I think there’s too much going on and there’s too much politics in the refugee crisis. I don’t know. Politicians have to be part of the solution, but it becomes a vote issue instead of a people issue, which really irritates me. And we strip away people’s dignity is what we do by by forcing them to live on handouts and just be living in tent cities in between countries and have nothing to live for. And it just it’s just wrong. It’s just wrong that because I was lucky enough to be born in this country, that’s OK.
But because you you can stay over just fundamentally disagree with the way we approach it. It just brings it to life. The way you explain what happened and what happened to that young guy. It’s it’s horrific. It’s horrific. So you’re trying to bring hope at least, and to the refugees and in that position is just fantastic. So sorry. I’m so sorry. I keep interrupting. Oh, no, no, no.
It’s good. It’s a conversation. And I’m glad that to hear your your thoughts. Yeah. So with all of that, what we did was we came back to learn and then all these people we were talking about, all these professionals from the tech industry and many other professionals that were in our network, they came on a Saturday for more than ten hours. So we started at nine a.m. and they left the one who lives as soon there was maybe five p.m., but some stayed even until 7:00 p.m. It was a very long day where we they held me for probably one hour and a half.
I just brought them all. The only information of what I found. I even created this video with all the footage and the interviews. So I gave them the information and then we created the same thinking session in different they will so we would have all the ethnic people together, all the innovation consultants together and different industries. And then they were coming up with different things that they could do to bring hope to refugees there. And it all started with why don’t we create an online gaming platform that would connect youngsters in refugee camps with youngsters in the UK and together they would learn a programming through challenges.
So why did we do this? Because in these field research, what we found was that people were lacking. So refugees were lacking access to education, access to employment, access to a community. They felt isolated and alone. But one thing they all had was access to Internet and a smartphone. So is that. There you go. Let’s start there. Let’s bring them those connections with all the other youngsters. Because the moment I believe that if young people were more exposed to different cultures, different, you know, like just types of people, racism, discrimination would decrease because you just see them as your friend is.
Joe is Matti’s you know, Hussein is not the refugee or the black person or that, you know, it’s just you just your friend is. So that’s that was a quote, right? We just wanted to build this bridge between refugees in Europe and the rest of the European society. We wanted to start with the youngsters because personally, I thought they were I still think they are the hardest group to work with because children. Yeah, they are pretty.
You can put them in any campaign here. We’re back at my kid. Yeah. You look at, you know, all the big charities and you see. Cute children, and you think, yeah, I want to help now, would you like do you think and I really wanted to answer honestly, Andi that would that this campaign be successful is if instead of these two year old who with a, you know, shiny eyes, you have a 14 year old with that beard really tall, that looks like what in the movies they put us out there is would that have the same impact?
There’s a whole industry right around sort of direct response TV show in the UK. We’ve got we’ve got but I’m in Spain, but we’ve got kind of the main TV channels, one to five. And then we have kind of the Freeview channels, you might call them. The Freeview channels can do longer outbreaks. So there’s quite tight restrictions on how long outbreaks can be and stuff on TV. But on the Freeview channels, they have longer outbreaks. So this has led to a kind of the rise of what you call direct response TV advertising, where you get a lot of charity ads.
Now, the key, the two key concepts of direct response TV, as I understand, they are always work with children or animals always. So you see a lot of like donkey sanctuary, you know, adopt a white African leopard or whatever. And you see a lot of starving children, starving children in Yemen or wherever the latest humanitarian crisis is.
Now, I think the industry would tell you in their defense that. There’s a problem here that needs solving and it needs money. So what they do is they create a campaign that makes money. Now you can argue about it and say it’s exploitation, you shouldn’t be doing it. But actually all that happens is you don’t make any money, which helps to solve the problem that is there. So the industry would say we didn’t cause the problem. We’re not the solution, we’re just the conduit to get.
Yeah, or you could say, well, actually, no, you’re right, because they’re getting paid for making those ads.
So are they exploiting the problem? They are trying to be balanced about this. They would say, yeah, we get paid for every pound. We get paid. This company makes 50 pounds.
So that’s money well spent. It’s not an easy discussion, but yeah, absolutely. If they start put in, there was a huge debate in the papers in the TV when the refugee crisis became front page news in the UK, there was pictures of children who were looking to be home. What these children were 15. And you’ve got people going that kids not 15, 20, someone to a test on him. He’s pretending he doesn’t have a passport.
And yes, you always find that one guy turns out to be twenty four who pretended he was 15. So so he could be treated as a minor. So that means everybody else must be lying, but everybody else doesn’t know how it works and how it works.
It bothers me, but yeah, hopefully try to explain also.
Yeah, yeah. No, I get it. And you said a couple of things that really I can relate to. And they have been called to to why we are what we are said organization as a company. So on the age thing, because I think it’s something I also keep keep hearing and and because I’m explaining why we started with youngsters, I think it’s it’s important. First is that it’s hard to to draw the line of when you are intervening with someone as a minor or not because they’re hot when they arrive to Europe, they are in their 20s.
But when they left, they were 14. And believe it or not, all of those years they’ve been just trying to escape. Different and different. Yeah, or not guns. But along the journey, they they are a mafias. They are a criminal organizations that will abduct them and then they have to escape or some if they end up in Libya, they will be sold as slaves. And, you know, like it’s people only see they’re a very small part of the journey that many, many refugees, not everyone, because there’s also the ones who jump on a plane, make it.
They go to the airport to say, hey, I need international protection. And it’s a different story. They don’t have to go through through all that terrible, you know, a journey that others do. But but many, many, many go through that journey. It takes many years. And by the time they reach Europe or they reach anywhere they save. Yeah, maybe they are nineteen, but. They are still. They became over and over throughout that journey, but I still believe they need specific support, they cannot be treated as a 19 year old from a British family who had, you know, who is not traumatized, who has a support network and all of that.
So anyways, I just wanted to give context in, like, let’s not look at things as black or white, and it’s just a no is not. But what it says are true is that in every culture or I don’t know what the right word is, but if you see a 15 year old Spanish guy and a 15 year old and you see this guy and 15 year old Ecomm old guy, they are going to look completely different. So who are you to say who looks 15?
Who doesn’t? Because you’re going to judge this guy or girl based on, you know, you and how you were at that age. But so this all makes me upset. But anyway, you said it, they don’t this these group, this age group is hard to work with because of all the traumas, because they are angry at how life has treated them. They are scared out of their mind because they have zero support and real mothers or anything.
They don’t know any I think any teenager in general, it’s being a teenager is hard. But being a teenager who has lived through war 30 or human rights violations, family losses and things like that has to be much worse. Right. So that’s why we chose within this problem that I think is is really difficult to solve, which is just integrating the refugee population in a society that does not want to welcome refugees. We decided to go for they even had the hardest group, which is all these teenagers that are mostly guys that they don’t look, you know, young and youth and easy to work with.
And no one was doing a lot of work with them. So the next thing we did was create these game and we did a Kickstarter campaign to to fund it so we could pilot. Right.
And let’s talk about can we talk about the Kickstarter? Yeah, there’s probably would be following the podcast, so.
What do you look at that you’ve got to raise a certain amount of money and you get what do you give in return? How did the whole process?
So we have to send any platform to do these fundraising. And we just Kickstarter because we chose to be a startup and not an NGO. And I promise I’m going to go back to the Kickstarter. But this just links really well with what you just said about there is a problem to solve. It needs money to be solved. Right. And we did not want to be in that situation that because we need money, we need donations. We have to I don’t know if this is the right use of language, but like prostitute, the problem to get all the funding, you know, I’m kind of it’s a beautiful use of English.
Yeah. Sometimes if I make I use the wrong wording, please. Then you go to sentence. But I’m glad this one worked great. So so we didn’t want to do that. Right. We wanted to prove that you can create a sustainable business model that solves the problem and that you kind of stay true to your values and the dignity of the people you’re trying to help, etc.. You know, so that’s why we we chose Kickstarter. We said, OK, what is a platform that startups use to be able to fund their first product or the first pilot of their product and see if it works Kickstarter.
Right. So let’s see. So we went in there and the first thing that Kickstarter tells you is this is not a charity fund raising platform. You have to be a company. There has to be a product to be sold. And we’re going to take that. That’s the case. And I was like, okay, challenge accepted. So how what can we sell? That can fund this pilot, so he said a little education, let’s sell our self education or, you know, we are selling our product.
It’s just not for you. It’s for someone is why you’re still chasing something. So that’s how we do it. And we be the majors that we made up, by the way, which was okay. So 100 pounds is I don’t remember exactly, but imagine one hour of of course. So, you know, we are trying to test these game. We’re going to go to the refugee camps and and do it in person before we spend tons of money in our gaming platform.
So we need these amount of hours in order to train these young refugees. So we need to raise fifteen thousand pounds and that would cover it. Now, Kickstarter is make it or break it kind of model. So you either raise the fifteen thousand and twenty days or you lose all the money you’ve raised. So, you know, it’s cool, but it definitely puts the pressure. And I have a really good friend that, you know, maybe she’s also got it.
This is a topic that is of interest. She would definitely be someone I would interview for How to Succeed in a Kickstarter. And she created a tour guide called Architecture. And she has built the whole project based on people’s comments. So she created this whole strategy before she even went on Kickstarter that the project that she brought to kickstart there was really what so many people wanted, that she raised all the funding on the first. I don’t know if it was a first hour or the first day and then it just multiplied.
So she happens to be a friend of mine. So I remember I went to have a coffee with her. I said, unique to Valerie. How did you do it? Because I need this thing like I need I don’t need to multiply. If I get the fifteen thousand, I’m happy, but I cannot afford to not get the money because until this point we had bootstrapped the whole thing. I you know, I was not working for anyone else.
I was fully just working on but zero salary. I spent all my savings. I was sleeping in my friend’s couches. It was like the proper, you know, crazy story. The proper startup story. Yeah. And I really needed it was my livelihood, you know, it was like, I need you to guarantee I can eat, so please help me get this money. And I had this go with her maybe a week before this coffee with her, a week before I was about to launch the campaign.
And she said, well, the first advice she told me was to read this book that tells you all the things you have to do a year in advance. So I was like, OK, that’s a really I really like I don’t have time to do it in one week. Well, I should have done for a year. And she’s there to give me all these tips that I could not apply to my situation because I had just focused so much on, you know, on the problem that I was like, OK, I’m just going to have to to do this on our own.
Then the next thing that happened was that I convinced friends and family to support us, and that’s how we got there. First, I figured it was the first week and five K and I thought, yeah, this is this is working. We have three weeks. If we get like every week, we will be there. Then the second we came and we raised maybe a hundred pounds and that’s when we started to get a little stressed, you know, like, like we are one week, you know, we are on day fifteen.
We have five more days and we need three like nine, eight. How are we going to have babies? And here is where I start to get all the phone calls of people who I am sure they did with the best intentions, but they couldn’t have our timing, which was. So what’s plan B? There was no Plan B when you’re going to Kickstarter, don’t have a plan B, because if you have a plan B, you relax and you’re like, OK, plan doesn’t work on plan B, my friend.
He was like, no plan has to work. So I’m not going to spend one second of my most precious time. Do you think about an alternative plan? Right, and that’s I think that’s what made us succeed, that we everyone around us so are so convinced that we could do it. They started to believe that we could do it. And because they believe we could, they started to convince their network that we could do it. And it went from nine possible.
They’re not going to make it to going viral. And you know what? Seven. Three, three. Yep.
I think I saw on LinkedIn, LinkedIn and somebody shared on LinkedIn. I was tucked in it by maybe two or three people like Andi. Have you seen this? Have you seen this. So yeah, I was on the final day of the Kickstarter, I think I managed to throw some money and probably not enough, but I did.
I put some money just to the Kickstarter, every single penny.
I think something really cool was that we started to take it as a as a game, as a challenge. And like you said, come on, guys, let’s you know, let’s make this happen. Let’s we have a, you know, ten more hours this much money. Let’s do it. So it was like instead of us letting this pressure put us down, I’m like, oh, my God, how am I going to do? It was like, this is not I don’t need to be the hero here.
We all need to play our part in this. And so all our communications, we’ve never been good at communicating, by the way, because we’ve been too busy doing so. That’s something that my advice is. We say let’s start communicating. Right, because you do so much more than people think. But I did start on that final days to talk about the why people did not care what I was going to use that money for. People only cared about why this crazy Spice Girl was raising these money to go in a refugee camp for, like, the way the way they were.
And and those media not crazy. You’re passionate about those. We started to, you know, everyone watching them and and then we made it. We we didn’t even just get the fifteen thousand pounds that we needed. We ended up getting fifteen thousand seven hundred and twenty two pounds from two hundred twenty six backers. If you make that, if you divide, it’s a lot of money per person. So another thing that this Kickstarter allowed us to test was that maybe we don’t have thousands of people or we didn’t have thousands of people believing in us.
But those who believe in us, they believe a lot. And they’re willing to not just give you the five pounds then by that, OK, is that and I’m not going to have to know, but they’re willing to give you you know, we had a high quality investment because it is of thousand. You know, some people even put two thousand pound. And I’m not saying how about these super rich? No, I’m saying people in their 30s who have a normal job.
I’ve finally decided to really invest and support super cause. So another thing that we’ve done is since then, and you because you were Alberca, you’ve already received payments at least once a year, twice. We communicate with these bankers. We remind them that they’re the reason why we’re still doing what we do. Every time we pivoted, we communicated it like, OK, so this happened this year, which led us here. Now we’re going to do this.
But hey, thank you for believing in the way you see when you start with the problem you’re trying to solve. It doesn’t matter. People even those who gave me the one thousand two thousand pounds is a lot of money. They never question why, if bad was supposed to be a game for teenagers is now at the talent accelerator program for professionals. We’re not working with teenagers anymore, but they understand the why. And they know that we pivoted because by putting by helping these professionals get into the tech industry and regaining control of their lives, we are giving the youngsters the personification of hope.
We are proving to them that it is possible. So then the next stage is let’s go back. And now that we have all these success stories, let’s make them their mentors. And now is not the Spanish girl who is not a refugee, has no idea what it’s like to leave Syria or Afghanistan. To make it to Europe is the same as someone who they can relate to, who is telling them, come on, don’t be lazy or don’t be don’t be stupid, basically because teenagers sometimes are stupid and make stupid decisions.
Part of the job, isn’t it? Yeah, so they are the ones saying, look, if you really want to get out of this horrible situation you’re in, it’s up to you to start investing your time and energies in something that will help. You are not in the only other options that are out there because they are, you know, bad options for them. So, yeah, I hope this makes sense.
I look at you’ve told us the story of why you started off, how you did your research, of how you took that through fundraising process, and then why you then pivoted from what you originally started with into something else. So the program is now I’m just aware of the time, but the program is now. Out there running, isn’t it? You have people who’ve been into tech jobs, what’s the feedback like? What are you hearing from people?
Well, actually, we are on our seventh cohort, so each cohort is around 12 people. And only in 2000 and 20 we have already and trained sixty four people and 13 have already been placed in a high tech jobs. And last week we had the last session with one of the groups. The accelerator has three faces. So these group finished phase one and someone said. I regained hope and I stopped the call, I was like, OK, guys, I need a new record.
I said, Yeah, I regained hope. And he said, you have no idea how happy this makes me because I never told them, but started with the mission of bringing hope to refugees and the fact that now someone has verbalized that they regained hope, that they they believe it’s possible to get out of where they are, is like mission accomplished, you know. Wonderful.
So this is brilliant. Honestly, it’s so uplifting in the end. So to tell me if anybody is thinking, I want to get in touch, I want to get involved, how can I help? What’s the best way to find out more at the moment? So obviously, you don’t just want people throwing stuff out. What’s the best way to get them to talk to at least see what’s happening?
So they should go to our website, which is that it is being said that a Eyup for artificial intelligence, but in Spanish means peace. So easy to remember. And yeah, and then they have three options. If you are a refugee and you you have ethnic background and you want to get involved in our program, then there is a section for them if you would like to become a minister. So you work in the tech industry and you would like to to help us upscale one of our candidates.
Then there is a section for them. And if you are a company and you want to get, you know, refugee talent into your team and there is also an option there. So, you know, those are the best ways. And I always read the messages, so I’ll I’ll get back to everyone.
So a lot of my audience, I’m based in Belfast. Probably 30 percent of my audience is based around here. There’s a huge tech scene in Belfast. So if you are part of that sex scene and you are listening, please do go and check out the links in the show. Notes that I and you’ll be able to get in touch with Lessie that way. As we come to the end of the interview, let’s see. There’s a couple of questions I always have to ask everybody.
Yes, we’ll quickly run through them. Firstly, books I like to share book recommendations from the guests for for the listeners. What books do you read and what would you recommend?
So there’s one that I always go back to because it rhema it gives me it gives me hope when I’m at my worst, which is called the hard thing about hard things from Ben Horowitz. And I normally say I have the different quotes that I like and that keep me going. And whenever I have a friend who was an entrepreneur going through the same difficulties that I feel, sometimes I send them certain quotes and I got one right here that I would like to do read aloud, because it explains the what we’ve been talking about.
And it says hard things are hard because there are no easy answers or recipes. They are hard because your emotions are at odds with your logic, your heart, because you don’t know the answer and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness. And this is so true. So many entrepreneurs who are trying to to disrupt something they are trying to do in a way they feel, you know, that that loneliness and that craziness and that how hard it is because you cannot even explain some things.
What you’re doing, you just need to to believe. So this is the sort of book that always has, you know, quotes that that resonate with you. Yeah.
When you’re the first guest who’s actually read out part of a book that they recommend and this might be a new thing because it was brilliant. It just that whole book to life, I haven’t read it yet, but it just brings it to life that way.
And then the last question I ask everybody, is there anything that you thought I was going to ask today that I haven’t asked you? No, I thought you would ask me about what that means, but I already told you I needed it, so I knew that moment I had that I.
Oh, I don’t speak a word of Spanish. Well, no, that’s a lie.
I pride myself on being able to order beer and chips in a dozen different languages, which is literally the beginning and end of my Spanish. I could I can survive on beer and chips for a length of time. So, yeah, I thought you said it means peace.
Oh, really? I love a name like that that has different different layers and different meanings of fantastic. Let’s say.
Thank you very much for your time. We’ll put your details in the show notes if anybody does want to reach out and get in touch with you. And look, it’s been wonderful having you on. Thank you. And good luck with everything with Paz. Thank you.
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