Interview with Santiago Belenguer, former student at SEK-Catalunya
Santiago Belenguer, SEK-Catalunya alumnus, is the founder of Portadvisor, creators of the App that offers detailed information on all Spanish ports, beaches and coves. Portadvisor currently has more than 3,000 downloads in the App Store and Google Play stores and over 5,000 individual users and 50 companies. He obtained the first place in the 3rd Innovation in Sailing Awards convened by the Association of Marine Industries, ADIN.
How many years were you at SEK-Catalunya?
I started in year 3 of Primary in 1999 and stayed until I finished Baccalaureate in 2009. One of the things that I value most is having studied the International Baccalaureate. It was hard, but it was very worth it. The education and the level of English I got are a plus that is worth bragging about.
What memories do you have of your time at SEK? I spent ten years in school, I have great memories, and more friends. I spent so many years there, there were so many different stages, but I have very fond memories. As you progress at school, you realise that everything they teach you and all your education has a purpose, and the effort has its reward. After all these years, I am still in touch with friends I made there, and I keep in contact with several of my former teachers for whom I have great affection.
What did you go on to do when you finished your studies? When I finished my studies at SEK-Catalunya, I studied a bachelor’s degree in Management, which would be equivalent to a degree in Business Administration and Management in Spain. Once I finished, while accumulating work experience, I completed two master’s degrees, the first in Digital Business and an Executive MBA.
Once finished, I founded Portadvisor in October 2015, launching the apps in June 2016 for iPhone and Android. The idea was to create a free technological solution, available to everyone, with detailed information about ports and beaches starting with Spain and with easy scalability to the rest of Europe. In addition, for the platform to be profitable, a series of spaces for companies, called Points of Interest, were created so that these companies could carry out an advertising clearly aimed at the nautical target and with spaces in specific locations.
You are clearly an entrepreneur, how is innovation fostered? It should be encouraged at school, in secondary schools, colleges, degrees, master’s degrees … Students should be taught to think differently, to think again about what already exists or simply to think of something new. I think that more and more is being done, I noticed it especially in my last three years in education, but I think it must be instilled from a young age.
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of innovating within a project or a company? One of the greatest advantages is personal fulfilment, you feel that you have created something, and that people use it, every day that I think about it, it fills me with pride to know that more than 10,000 people use Portadvisor. In addition, it is an exercise in total maturity. However, the disadvantages are that it is very difficult to succeed, and even less so the first time round, to create something from scratch, to have sufficient resources, for the market to accept your idea and use it, all this is difficult and requires a great deal of time and investment. Currently there are many solutions, such as incubators, accelerators, entities and people with resources willing to invest if the idea is good and profitable, but they are not easy to convince.