Albert Munné, a native of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, is an industrial engineer, music teacher and composer. He is the founder and CEO of the Memima Baby app, which helps your baby learn and internalize the sound of all kinds of musical concepts. This improves your child’s communication, language development and learning skills.
The app is based on proprietary ETFES© method, which is specifically designed to stimulate the language and other areas in a baby’s brain.
Learn more about Albert’s entrepreneurial journey and how he got into entrepreneurship and his experience developing the Memima app.
Hi Albert! Welcome to the Business Observer24 “Featured Founder” session. Can you briefly introduce yourself and describe your journey as an entrepreneur?
What made you take the plunge into entrepreneurship and what were some of the key milestones along the way?
My first entrepreneurial ideas were probably born between 2000 and 2002, right at the beginning of my engineering studies. I had been thinking about the concept of a sustainable fish farm and a renewable energy power plant that uses excess energy to pump water into storage tanks.
Years later, after exploring different options in the technology startup scene, I revisited an idea that had come to me in 1997-1998. In school, I noticed that students with musical abilities were better at learning languages. They often neglected their homework and still achieved good grades.
In school, I noticed that students with musical abilities were better at learning languages.
I observed the same pattern in subjects like math and chemistry, where those who had no formal musical or instrumental training but had good ear and singing skills seemed to enjoy these “seemingly” privileged learning abilities. Interestingly, as a teenager, I was deeply fascinated by musical composition and the development of language and technology over the course of our evolutionary development as a species. This got me thinking: what if we could train a baby’s musical ear from birth?
What if babies could learn the language of music like another language?
Based on this idea and inspired by the pregnancy of close friends in 2012, I took up the concept again and started preparing the first versions of the ETFES© method. In 2017, the first version of Memima Baby was launched. I have always had the desire to create projects with social and environmental impact that benefit society in some way, taking as a reference the nature of the biosphere and human evolution.
Looking back on your entrepreneurial career, what are the three most important lessons you have learned that you think every aspiring entrepreneur should know?
First and foremost, choosing the right partners for entrepreneurship is one of the biggest challenges. They need to bring a number of qualities that are often not all present in the first attempts. Skills for specific tasks, determination to succeed, commitment, resilience, teamwork, and the right life circumstances that will allow them to carry out the venture are essential.
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. From team-related problems to market or product-related challenges, things will always get complicated. The art of any innovation project is to absorb and minimize setbacks and, when possible, use them to our advantage. A stoic attitude and adaptability to keep the team together and motivated are critical. Once again, the team comes before you.
A stoic attitude and adaptability to keep the team together and motivated are critical.
Fall in love with a problem, not a solution. If you focus on the problem, when it becomes necessary to pivot at some level or when things get complicated, you will arrive at solutions more easily or with greater impact. There is always a way out for something that will solve a problem if we have enough foresight. This greatly increases the chances of long-term survival.
Starting a business often means taking risks. How do you assess the risks in your ventures and how do you deal with them?
This is a principle that comes up again and again in the development phases. If you have doubts, then it’s not essential. If it requires a significant investment of time or money, it needs to be carefully analyzed. If an action puts the entire system at risk, it should not be pursued. Data-driven decisions are imperative, so it is important to obtain data as early as possible and at the lowest cost.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs on how to deal with uncertainties?
During these stages of business development, it is critical not to expend cash or resources that are not absolutely necessary, especially when uncertainty exists. Choosing the right indicators for this purpose is absolutely essential, and the best indicator since ancient times has been: how much is it costing me, and how much do I need to generate in revenue to be sustainable? All KPIs should point in this direction from the start.
Building a strong network is critical for entrepreneurs. What strategies have you used throughout your career to build meaningful connections and partnerships?
Cultural fit and shared values are key to achieving common goals at every level. From building the internal team to building business partnerships, anything that does not revolve around similar concerns and values will hinder success in achieving goals, even if the interests are the same. I have seen interesting projects fail in a variety of areas that could have been successful if it were not for issues related to human behavior.
What do you believe has crucially contributed to your success?
Again, values, culture and adaptation are crucial. We are currently facing a phase in which there is a growing awareness of doing things better than in the past. This change will be successful if it encompasses both personal and social aspects and produces sustainable results (economically and environmentally). This is the challenge and the true complexity of what we are facing.
One of the challenges for many entrepreneurs is finding the right balance between innovation and market demand. How do you approach this balance and what steps do you take to ensure that your products/services match market needs?
Innovating without resources is indeed a big challenge. There are different levels of innovation. We can invent a new sandwich by mixing chicken with unknown spices from an indigenous tribe in Brazil, or we can figure out how to grow wheat, make flour, mix it with water, ferment it, bake it, and then once we have the bread, slice it and make a chicken sandwich.
We organized and conducted a pilot scientific study that involved years of work.
The accumulation of numerous innovations that solve specific small problems is a form of continuous social improvement that has always existed. Great innovations are the result of a period of understanding problems and solutions that lead to a common denominator that solves a larger problem. For an entrepreneur with a startup philosophy, time to market is of the essence. Therefore, it is important to wisely decide which battles to fight and which to avoid. It’s important to have the tools and skills to defend yourself in your own field.
For example, I was able to develop the ETFES© method by working on it in the evenings and at night after my regular work, investing time and validating hypotheses step by step. I had the necessary knowledge in music composition, music production, music theory, harmony theory, and music education. We also organized and conducted a pilot scientific study that involved years of work. Life has led me to make the ETFES© method more accessible.
If I had been teaching at the Faculty of Engineering at that time, I probably would have pursued sustainable fish farming or combined renewable energy generation projects (I still have some interesting ideas in mind!). An idea is worth nothing if it is not realized, and it means losses if it is not implemented in a sustainable way. Therefore, passion, circumstances and the necessary financial means to reach the market are crucial. Once again, the team proves to be the decisive factor.
Scaling a business requires effective leadership and team management. What leadership skills do you think are essential to managing a successful team, and how do you foster a positive work culture in your company?
The psychological ability to understand the interests and motivations of each member with the utmost respect and admiration is critical. Admiration is very important because it facilitates the smooth integration of all aspects. Everyone involved in an entrepreneurial project relies on you and the rest of the team, especially in the early stages when sustainable monetization is not yet achieved. The entire team contributes a part of their lives, knowledge and efforts, so this should be the starting point for any analysis in any situation.
An essential part of developing a high-performance team is honesty and transparency in sharing opinions and information.
The other essential aspect is to focus on what is really important, both on a personal level for each team member and on a corporate level. The decision-making processes and the successful implementation of these decisions determine leadership. Therefore, just like looking at the market, results are critical to team morale.
An essential part of developing a high-performance team is honesty and transparency in sharing opinions and information in any challenge. It always helps to achieve goals more efficiently and unite the team by understanding why we are working on each specific aspect. Leadership is more about knowing how to respect, admire, help, bring joy, support and learn than anything else. Vision should inform decision-making. This approach usually makes everything much easier and progresses naturally.
In your experience, what are the most effective marketing and branding strategies for early-stage startups?
Word of Mouth. In the early stages, it’s important to learn quickly from your users. Understand why they use your product, why they pay for it, and how it makes their lives easier. Steady growth is the best indicator of a company’s growth potential. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an extremely important indicator before you invest in marketing. If it is not positive, it is better to develop and improve the user experience through free user feedback.
It is especially important to understand why the NPS value moves. If we get a value, why do we get it? Once this is all clear, you can start working on social media and search engine advertising campaigns. That does not mean you can not run paid media tests during this process to determine approximate customer acquisition costs (CAC) and validate hypotheses.
Financial management is critical to the sustainability and growth of a business. What financial practices or strategies have you found most useful in managing cash flow, securing funding, and making sound financial decisions?
Focus on what is truly a priority. If you are not sure you need it, do not invest in it. Spend only what is absolutely necessary. Revenue is the cure for everything. It’s critical to focus on generating revenue as quickly as possible. And when this is not possible due to development issues, every decision should be focused on revenue generation and prepare viable and logical options that allow for a strategic shift to monetization.
The best financial decisions are those that lead to sustainable growth. This is the future of any startup. Ultimately, it is what the biosphere has done in every biological system since its inception. Thinking about the efficiency of financial metabolism is the key to survival in any situation. The biosphere has infinite wisdom when it comes to developing sustainable systems for every possible scenario, from deserts to tropical regions.
Many entrepreneurs experience setbacks and failures along the way. Can you give us a specific example where you encountered a major challenge or failure and how you overcame it?
Every difficulty is also an opportunity. Metals were probably discovered in the making of stone tools, and perhaps a harder stone tool broke from overuse, exposing metal fragments inside. This probably caught the attention of someone who also noticed that these shiny and eye-catching fragments embedded in the rock reacted strangely to fire after using this stone fragment for a few days as part of a stone circle to contain the fire.
Through trial and error, the first version of the metallurgical industry was created in the form of instruments for everyday use. After each failure, it takes time and much effort, but one can be reborn with an improved version or solution if one makes the necessary observations and teachings.
What lessons did you learn from this experience?
My biggest mistake was going through a startup process where the original partners could not contribute what the project required. That’s when I learned that second chances are rare and that my commitment must always be immense. From that moment on, I focused on creating value through the product and fostering a team culture that matched my determination to succeed. Intelligence is important, but determination, motivation, values and commitment are even more important.
As an experienced entrepreneur, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey?
Focus on creating and monetizing value as quickly as possible. Time is money, and the sooner you are in the market and generating revenue, the greater your chances of survival. If you are embarking on a development based on an innovation that will take years to complete, such as a scientific study, seek investment. Avoid excessive free trial periods for your product unless absolutely necessary for product development.
What are the key factors or habits that contribute to long-term success in the business world?
Incorporate a mentally and physically healthy culture into your daily life that helps you focus and prioritize effectively. Learn a lot and be open to being taught. It is important that you take guidance from those who truly know the field you are entering. Likewise, you need to be able to filter the opinions around you. Not all opinions or advice should be considered by you. This point is very complex. Trust your instincts and your team. A capable and united team is essential to overcome any challenge or adversity.
Technology and digital transformation have revolutionized various industries. How have you used technology in your business and what new trends do you think entrepreneurs should keep an eye on in the coming years?
Our present is already part of the future. The emergence of technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are taking us into a new technological age in an immediate way. They will change the way we produce energy and food, as well as every industry and sector, from education to medicine. Thanks to the efficiencies these new technologies have achieved today, our problem-solving capacity as a species will rise to unprecedented, if not infinite, levels. We are on the verge of a true revolution that will cause us to redefine ourselves as humans, and we need to prepare for it as a species.
We are probably at the best moment to propose impactful projects for every sector. We will be faced with many challenges, and the list of aspects that need to be improved or changed will grow longer and longer. For an entrepreneurial person, it will be a fascinating time when the technology to be implemented should come second. The first thing we should focus on is the systemic problems and needs of societies and the planet. From there, the feasibility and scalability of the solution will determine the best technology we can deploy.
Currently, at Memima Baby, we are at exactly that point. We have several options in front of us that could fundamentally change the education sector. Going back to one of the previous questions: strategic prioritization based on user monetization.
Finally, could you tell us how you keep up with industry trends and continue to learn and grow? Can you recommend resources such as books, websites, or communities that have been useful to you as an entrepreneur?
Probably unlike most entrepreneurs, I pay more attention to the past than the present to help me envision the future. I consume all kinds of science-based information about nature, the 19th century, the 20th century, ancient civilizations, and human evolution. I am also fascinated by the aerospace industry.
I like to get lost in portals for scientific publications sites like SagePub and PubMed. As for entrepreneurial books, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is indispensable, especially when it comes to innovation. Other interesting sites include Ask the VC.
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