11 Questions with MS in Entrepreneurship Student Alan Gonzalez

We asked current Foster students to tell us why they chose Foster, what they like to do for fun, and to share advice with potential applicants. Meet Master of Science in Entrepreneurship student Alan Gonzalez.

Where are you from?

I am from Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, about three hours away from Mexico City. I have alternated between the United States and Mexico for most of my life.

What did you do before entering this program?

Prior to joining the program, I had completed my MBA from the University of Washington Bothell and was working at Microsoft as a software engineer.

Did you have any entrepreneurship experience before entering this program?

In 2010, while working on my bachelor’s, two friends and I co-founded a Software as a Service offering for small businesses that would help them track their sales, expenses, and other operations.

Later, in 2017, I co-founded a non-profit to teach computer science to high school students in Latin America. The focal piece of the non-profit is an open-source software platform we created that allows students to practice algorithms and data structures.

Tell us why you are excited to be a part of the fifth cohort for the MS ENTRE degree program?

Being part of this program marks the beginning of my journey as a full-time entrepreneur. This is a big step in my career, and I wanted to have as many tools, education, and connections as possible.

I am also excited because being part of this cohort gave me access to many of the University’s resources: a desk at Startup Hall, meeting people at weekly events, taking exceptional entrepreneurship classes from world-renowned entrepreneurs and educators, business competitions, incredible research resources with massive databases, industry reports, market research, company lists, and much more!

What advantages do you see to opening a business now?

The number of new business applications in the US was higher during the summer of 2020 than at any time in the past 15 years, and about 90% of those startups will fail. And yet, we still do it, we entrepreneurs see the perils ahead, but we still think that we are that 10% that will make it. I find that optimism inspiring.

What connections are you hoping to make while in the program?

Being surrounded by people on the same journey is often inspiring and is precisely what I was looking for in this program. I try to connect and learn from everyone: from undergrad freshmen, graduates, program mentors, instructors, speakers, and CEOs.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I am currently working on a technical recruitment platform. We do automatic evaluations using real-life coding challenges that allow recruiters and hiring managers to effortlessly assess the technical ability of a pool of software engineer candidates.

In five years, I would like to see myself leading this company and have become the best in the world at technical recruiting. I would like to have co-created an organization where we have meaningful careers and impact people’s lives through our work.

What skills and/or knowledge are you looking to develop?

I want to improve my interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, in particular, my ability to tell a story in a way that others are compelled to invest, join, or volunteer. I still get nervous with every pitch, but the more I do it, the better I’ll become.

What do you like to do for fun?

>I like playing soccer, guitar, tinkering with electronics, walking my dog, reading, playing video games, and going out with my wife.

I also love teaching, and I instruct at DUBvelopers which is a web design and development student club here at UW. Members learn web development and the club matches them with small businesses that need websites.

What’s been your favorite part of the program so far?

Founders often work on an idea for a very long time; we become passionate and sometimes stubborn. Having to find the problem you are solving, your differentiator, target customer, and other components sometimes make you realize the idea is not feasible or you don’t have a plan to achieve a sustainable business. This realization forces you to work harder or pivot. I have seen this happen with myself and with others. Seeing this happen has been my favorite part because it will save years of work and thousands of dollars in the future.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about applying to the MS ENTRE degree program?

When creating a startup, the odds are against you. This program is an investment. The things you learn, the connections you make here will save you time in the future. The program opens up an abundant source of research in so many diverse disciplines. I think the more educated and open-minded you are, the higher your chances of success.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program

This post is part of a series where we ask current students to answer 11 questions about their experience at Foster. Explore the 11 questions tag for more interviews.