First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ilana Milkes: All is good! Coming from a Jewish family, everyone is a bit spread all around the world: Israel, the USA, Colombia, and Germany. But we are all doing well — thanks for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded World Tech Makers.
Ilana Milkes: I am a former professional soccer player having represented my country – Colombia – before earning a full scholarship to study at Roosevelt University (Chicago). I doubled majored in History and Finance, and also completed a 1-year MBA program by 22, then moved to New York City to work at a private equity firm called Modern Holdings. As an analyst at the firm, I quickly realized how necessary it was to learn how to create technology.
Most of the deals the fund was investing in were technology-based, but I had no experience as a programmer or engineer. Thus, I decided to go back to school and start a career in Engineering. After one year, I came across a coding bootcamp and decided to learn how to code and build software. I learned more in 4 months than I did in 12 months of schooling. This is life-changing to me and the start of my career in technology. A few years forward, I am now running World Tech Makers, the pioneering coding academy in Latin America. Besides coding bootcamps, we also offer adaptive software solutions and invest heavily in Research and Development. We operate in 5 countries: Chile, Colombia, Spain, the USA, and Brazil — and are planning to expand to more markets in the next 12 months.
How does World Tech Makers innovate?
Ilana Milkes: We developed a skills-matching technology that helps people prepare for the jobs of the future. We leverage artificial intelligence and big data. We are also working with new biomaterials, combining software with biology, as well as chemistry. Last but not least, we are also investing heavily in IoT solutions for education, enabling children who have no access to the internet, still have access to robots who teach them how to code.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ilana Milkes: We have grown 500% in the past 4 months. The sanitary crisis has been very positive for us. Most of our solutions are software-based right now, and we had to cancel our on-site classes, but in general, we have been growing strong.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ilana Milkes: Yes. We decided to shut down our on-site operations for some time and adapt fast to the new conditions. Change is the only constant in business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and World Tech Makers in the future?
Ilana Milkes: We want to protect ourselves by innovating and doubling down on innovation and software-based solutions. We hired a mindfulness expert, and he now runs sessions once per week. On top of it, I started doing intermittent fasting to focus better and have kept my HIIT routine.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ilana Milkes: Entropy is the ultimate boss battle. We want to stay in the game by challenging ourselves, disrupting ourselves constantly, and executing innovative ideas that we tend to see before others see them.
Your final thoughts?
Ilana Milkes: This is the greatest opportunity of our lifetime.
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