Joan Buch Prades is currently spending a semester at UC Berkeley through SCET’s Startup Semester program. Through the program, Joan will take SCET courses, explore emerging technologies, network with like-minded innovators and Berkeley students, and work on his startup: Decoditive.
Decoditive is a tool for marketers that uses an AI that is trained with neuroscience labs based eye-tracking data, to predict in 20 seconds how consumers will behave on websites or social media ads, without having to wait weeks to get real user traffic like with tools like Hotjar or Google Analytics. Decoditive’s AI also provides marketers and designers with precise recommendations on what they need to change from the design, in order to suit their audience and goals perfectly.
To help better understand what it is like to be a student entrepreneur, and how Joan came up with the innovative idea for Decoditive, we sat down with Joan to better understand his experience and also gain tips for other student entrepreneurs.
Q: How did you get interested in entrepreneurship?
Joan Buch Prades: In Spain, they teach you how to work for others and not for yourself. So I was like, okay, I don’t want this for my life – like a cubicle job. So I started getting involved in entrepreneurship programs and business competitions, incubators, accelerators and so on and this is how it all started.
Q: Tell us about your startup Decoditive. How did it start?
JB: In the last two years at my university, I was involved in many entrepreneurship projects. When I left, I decided to start my first company. It was called SuperChess, and it was supposed to be a PokerStars for chess – online tournaments where money was at stake. But it ended up becoming an anti-cheating system for online chess tournaments, because that was the biggest problem. And yeah, we pivoted two or three times, which is very typical in startups, and this is actually how my [new] company started. I [learned about neuromarketing and] decided that we could change the business because the sector was very small. And this is how Decoditive, my current startup, was born. So jumping from SuperChess to okay, we need to create another business. We saw the opportunity in neuromarketing and Ai, which is a fast-growing marketing with not too many competitors.
Q: How did you figure out that neural marketing in AI is an area with a lot of opportunities?
JB: I think one of the most important parts is to be surrounded with smart people. And yeah, the team is really important. So, I’m not I was not really an expert in the field. But my colleague, the one who was working with me, had expertise in neuromarketing and he said, “Okay, this is a great opportunity.”
Q: What’s it like to be an entrepreneur?
JB: Being an entrepreneur, in my opinion, is like a philosophy. It’s not just for business, but it becomes part of every aspect of your life. So yeah, be a fast and good decision maker, being ambitious, and being like a problem solver in every aspect of your life.
Q: What are some of the most challenging moments?
JB: There are many ups and downs, but the key is to be able to be prepared emotionally. If you are going to become an entrepreneur, you need to know that things are going to go bad many times. So, you need to be prepared for that and yeah, when you are in those moments, I think the most important thing is to be patient and be aware that okay, I knew this would happen. But yeah, I will just try to figure out a way to pass these bad moments and realize everything will get better, and in the end, it will.
Q: Are there any technologies, companies or startups that you’re following right now?
JB: Apart from our competitors which we always have to be checking, right? I’m really fond of these OpenAI / ChatGPT technologies. I’m actually using it every day, even more than Google, which is something I would never expect. I’m really fond of those technologies, because they save you a lot of time, right? So you can literally ask anything, and they will answer you or you can even tell them to create creative materials for marketing purposes or whatever, and it will do it. I really enjoy AI, actually; it is my passion.
Q: What advice would you give to student entrepreneurs?
JB: Okay, so first of all, I think it’s very important to be aware that you are in the best area in the world to build a startup. That’s the most important thing I would say. Take advantage of the network that you can make here. There are many events in the Bay Area that help you network with investors and people working in great companies, like Google, Facebook, etc. And especially just keep going; you need to be really resilient and consistent when creating a startup. As I said before, things will go bad many times, so we just need to be aware of that and think in a positive way and surround yourself with the best people you can, including mentors and teammates. So, that’s pretty much it. Just keep going.