Ever wanted to concentrate better or process information faster, aka optimize your brain function? This is exactly what María Lopez, an IE MBA, is doing as CEO of cognitive enhancement company BitBrain. She opens up about her experiences as an entrepreneur, as a researcher, as a mother and as an MBA!
Can you tell me about the idea behind BitBrain? How did you start the company?
In 2008, I collaborated with the research team of Dr. Javier Minguez of University of Zaragoza working on decoding human brain signals (neuro-technology). Some of the prototypes developed by our research team had a major international impact, such as the second prototype in the world of a wheelchair controlled by thoughts, the world's first prototype of a robot tele-operated by thoughts and the world's first prototype of a manipulator arm operated also by thoughts. Following these investigations, Javier and I started up BitBrain in order to get the knowledge generated within the university out there.
Why is BitBrain's approach the best for cognitive enhancement?
We have developed a neuro-technology product for cognitive enhancement. While traditional approaches are focused on developing mental exercises, our technology is based on a training process to directly produce changes in the brain that optimize performance. The technology is based on a hardware (clinical electroencephalogram) and a software (developed by BitBrain) that measure and process the brain activity in real-time to: i) identify the rhythms that mediate in human cognitive abilities in an individual way, and ii) to provide real-time feedback on whether the person is activating these rhythms correctly.
Thanks to this application, people are able to improve the operation of the brain rhythms that mediate in the cognitive abilities, and this is reflected in faster information process and better concentration (optimization of brain function). The novelty of the technology is that it develops an individualized process, i.e. it is able to detect automatically and individually for each person the brain rhythms that should be improved to favor the brain function optimization.
Can you tell me about your experiences at IE?
My experience at IE was very special as I started my MBA when I was five months pregnant, and thus and I had to stop lectures after three months when my baby was born. The good thing about this was that I had the luck of working with two different groups of students and met many more people!
The three highlights of my experience were the high quality of the teachers (all of them with vast business experience), the relationship with the other students (sharing different points of view and discussing the cases) and the security and confidence obtained by understanding and applying business concepts (given my technical background).
Before the MBA, I was living in a “bubble” as a researcher in the University of Zaragoza. The IE MBA was a key step in my entrepreneurial careers that clearly open my mind to a new world of opportunities. Beyond training, I still have relationship with other students and teachers and I usually share my ideas with them.
What is your advice to current MBAs?
Study, enjoy it and make friends (not only with students, but also with teachers). An MBA is an excellent opportunity to grow not only as a professional but also as a person. You must take advantage of this at maximum.
What have been some of your proudest accomplishments as CEO of BitBrain?
Without any doubt I am most proud to help patients to improve their quality of lives. For instance, depression is sometimes associated with major cognitive impairments and thanks to our technology some patients have recovered the ability to see the news on TV or even to read. In addition to this, we are helping children with attention deficit disorder to reduce hyperactivity and improve their brain function. I have lived incredible moments as CEO as well, such as when I presented our work to the Prince of Wales or when I am talking to inspire thousands of people at entrepreneurship talks.