Building a Community for Innovation with Alumnus Alberto Martinez de Arenaza

Introducing Alberto Martinez de Arenaza, a Minerva graduate from the Class of 2019 and co-founder of the Transcend Network | Jan,16, 2021

During his time at Minerva, in each of the global cities, Alberto prioritized developing connections with local people and organizations. These connections helped shape his ideas around the future of learning and work, and thus became the backdrop for founding his company, the Transcend Network, after graduation.

Throughout his studies, Alberto focused on new approaches and models to local and global financial inclusion. Majoring in Social Sciences, with a double concentration in Economics and Politics, Alberto sourced unique opportunities to connect what he was learning in the classroom with local industry. He also earned a minor in History, which he credits as providing him with some of the most eye-opening and formative learning experiences he has had to date. His free time during the global rotation was always spent learning from locals and other Minerva students. For example, in his fourth year, Alberto joined Minerva’s improv team, The Sitting Down Club, where he acquired invaluable skills that would later drive his approach to building community at his company. He also was one of the founders of Minerva’s student government, Associated Students of Minerva, which he quotes as “difficult, frustrating, but ultimately a rewarding experience that taught me a lot about starting something that I care about from scratch.”

During his summers, Alberto invested his time tackling global financial questions — seeking opportunities to critically understand how resources are allocated, and to whom, and what makes for successful investment opportunities. From working as a Global Development Advisor for Dalberg and the IFC in Senegal, to taking advantage of local connections made in Hyderabad with T-Hub, one of the largest accelerators in India, to assessing emerging technologies for EH Global Capital in London, Alberto’s portfolio reflects his curiosity for the world around him.

These professional experiences prompted Alberto to reconsider how opportunities, or lack thereof, shape who gets supported and what types of innovation are encouraged within various industries. Intrigued by how different cultures, people, and organizations approached innovation, particularly in the education sector, and inspired by the leadership and initiative of those that he came across, Alberto set out to build an accelerator for innovative education startups. Specifically, he wanted to create a model that supported founders around the world, by building a global community of like-minded founders who could encourage, teach, and help one another. Seeking organizations that wouldn’t normally be served by the typical American-based venture capital system, The Transcend Network upholds diversity as essential to its model — working with groups that are representative of a global and unique international perspective.

In essence, he wanted to create an organization that would meet the needs of a community of educational start-ups: a program that relied on the value of its people, rather than the appraisal of its funds. Transcend’s approach thus began to take shape, developing educational programs and fellowships that emphasized community connections, knowledge sharing, and industry opportunity. He credits this community-based approach to his time as a student, “ I can say I’ve learned more from my classmates than I have learned from any expert or leader I’ve met in the last years, especially about combining ambition for impact with empathy.”

Only a year and a half after graduation, Alberto has grown the Transcend Network into a thriving company that has worked with over 60 founders from more than 20 different countries in 2020 alone. The success of the incubator is tangible: Founders that have participated have gone on to collectively raise over $9 million from top investors.

Alberto’s daily work differs from offering resources for market growth and curating expert panels to developing community programs to help founders connect with one another and procuring sponsorships and investments for the program. Additionally, the organization publishes a biweekly newsletter for all who are interested in staying up-to-date on thought-leadership around the future of learning and work. Ultimately, Transcend aims to connect the impactful trends in education across global regions and invest in the founders who are leading those changes.

As he begins the new year, Alberto is taking the time to reassess his own personal learning journey. He notes that one of the main challenges he has been facing is learning how to differentiate and prioritize what is important between what is urgent. In order to continue to develop the Transcend Network at a fast-paced and high level, he finds it important to invest in his own physical and mental health. While he misses the learning-focused community at Minerva, where his interests and passions were easily aligned with the opportunity to dig into new things, he also is eager to continue to meet new connections and pursue new opportunities while helping his business grow. “In 2021, the Transcend Network has a really unique chance to reach more founders and help them scale their education startups. It’s a really exciting point in our journey and I’m looking forward to involving more Minerva students in that adventure!”

If you were inspired by Alberto’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.