Maria del Mar Velez: Empowering the Next Generation Through Tech and Code
Inspiring Women in EdTech
Crack The Code
According to a study, the majority of young people in different underdeveloped, developing, as well as developed countries struggle to obtain the information and support necessary to advance a career in the tech industry. Leaders in the EdTech sector, including Maria del Mar Velez, who has achieved the highest status, hold the view that everyone has a right to a quality education. With a vision to offer learning, she founded Crack The Code (in Lima, Peru, in the year 2017)—a platform that offers programming courses for children and adolescents that encourage creativity, cultural exchange, and fun. Itscore product’s purpose is to make the world a better place. She states that the platform gives students of all socio-economic backgrounds the skillset that will allow them to change their lives and their families’ livelihoods and have a more prosperous future. This will have an all-around positive impact on society.Maria’s visual interpretation of working is often enjoyable as she admires the process; she likes to share laughs and bond with each member of the team. She is a hardworking individual and demands dedication from her students as well as staff, but she ensures that her team approaches each challenge with humility and a well-defined plan.
Crack The Code offers live, online, computer science courses for Hispanic students. According to her, students who finish high school knowing how to create technology, will have more career options. She is confident that Hispanic communities have the potential to be drivers and leaders of the digital revolution. She and her team are obsessed with her students’ learning experiences, learning objectives, and their parents’ journeys. The specialized classes that the organization provides are personalized, enjoyable, multicultural, dynamic, and always up to date with the latest technological trends. “We want our kids to feel as if they are playing, and not necessarily taking a class. We complement and elevate K–12 education,” Maria mentions.
An excerpt from Maria’s Journey
Entrepreneurship has run in Maria’s family; with her father, sister, and brother being entrepreneurs, it was natural for her to enter the business world. Maria was born in Medellin, Colombia, and grew up in San Jose, Costa Rica. She was keenly interested in learning about and understanding the business facets. To pursue studies in economics, she went to NYU in New York. She soon had the good fortune of landing a career-changing internship during her studies, which required her to relocate to Puno, Peru, to oversee the purchase of a microfinance business. There, she realized that profitable, fast-growing companies could also have a social impact. After graduating college, she worked at JP Morgan Chase as an analyst and associate for 5 years in the Alternative Investments team. It gave her the best preparation, work ethic, and maturity for becoming an entrepreneur. She then moved to Lima, Peru, where she decided to start a company in a space with immense growth and impact potential—”once I started learning about the Edtech space, there was no way back,” she says.
Being an entrepreneur, Maria was always determined to convert her passion into a profitable business. She debunks a common misconception in her industry: that businesses like Crack The Code exist to make an impact rather than to make money. For Crack The Code, this is not the case. The education and EdTech industries have the potential to be very good businesses, profitable, and fast-growing. “Its unit economics tend to be different than other tech industries, which is why it is important to have EdTech advisors,” she adds. Since Crack The Code’s inception, it has propagated to enroll 13,000 students, starting with just 20. Maria has worked extremely hard, exhibited incredible resilience, and persevered to achieve this level. “Humility and resourcefulness have also been key qualities that have helped me get where I am,” Maria adds.
A Blessing in Disguise
The pandemic has accelerated the company’s growth. The lockdown has opened a lot of new opportunities to Crack The Code. The technology adoption that came with it enabled Maria and her team to expand faster and to more remote parts of the region. It also came with great innovations in EdTech and streaming platforms that they harnessed to improve their product, the academic experience, and student learning. The product front of the company focuses on improving its student experience andrestructuring its product offering, which will hope to form agile students across the different areas within the CS space.The company is also constantly changing how parents can support their children as they go through school.Meanwhile, on the marketing front, it is positioning its brand as the category leader in computer science for Hispanics. Maria believes that this implementation will drive growth and innovation altogether. The institution is also experimenting with the Hispanic market in the US—an immense opportunity with tremendous growth and impact potential.
"We want our kids to feel as if they are playing, and not necessarily taking a class. We complement and elevate K–12 education."
Future is Yours
Maria states that women and girls represent approximately half of the world’s population, thus a feminine gender’s perspective as well as needs should be considered when making important and transcendental decisions in the education space that will have an immense impact on the lives of those involved. Further, she mentions, “We need to have more role models that will inspire other girls to become leaders in this space.“
To women in EdTech who are striving to attain a sustainable future, Maria advises them to stay strong and approach the women’s support system, which will help them during tough moments. Additionally, one must seek their own mentors for any necessary help. “Get a coach to help you juggle the tough moments and decisions you will have to make,” she says. Finally, Maria claims that because the world and the institutions that provide information are both changing quickly, Therefore, the future will offer more opportunities and insights than ever before. As a result, one must find their passion, put in a lot of effort to achieve their objectives, and then work toward changing the world as it is today.