22-Year-Old Multimillionaire Entrepreneur Shares Experiences with NU Students

November 15, 2012  |  by Michael Freedman

  • Entrepreneur Daniel Gómez Iñiguez speaks to the audience during a presentation held Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Castellani Art Museum.

    Entrepreneur Daniel Gómez Iñiguez speaks to the audience during a presentation held Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Castellani Art Museum.

  • NU students interact with 22-year-old multimillionaire Daniel Gómez Iñiguez during a post-presentation Q-and-A session.

    NU students interact with 22-year-old multimillionaire Daniel Gómez Iñiguez during a post-presentation Q-and-A session.

Senioritis? Not for Daniel Gómez Iñiguez, the soon-to-be Monterrey Institute of Technology graduate.

Make no mistake, Gómez, like most college seniors, likes to enjoy himself long after the sun sets, but his sights are set on increasing his company’s 85 percent share of the biodiesel technology production market in Mexico and expanding into the United States as early as 2013.

Tis the life of a 22-year-old multimillionaire entrepreneur.

Gómez shared his experiences at the Castellani Art Museum on Tuesday evening, while offering tips on how to become successful in creating a company with a global impact. Most of his presentation outlined his determination in forming SOLBEN, an alternative energy technology company that Gómez co-founded while attending high school in Monterrey, Mexico.

“Try to start a business to learn, not only to make money,” Gómez advised the approximately 125 NU students and community members in attendance. “Most people are afraid of failure but failure is not simply a result. You can make failure positive if you learn something from it. Never stop learning.”

Gómez and his partners – Guillermo Colunga, Antonio Lopez and Mauricio Pareja –developed a biodiesel production technology designed to be accessible in a developing economy. The previous business model for producing biodiesel – a blend of vegetable oils or animal fats and diesel – relied on large, centralized production plants.

At the beginning of his presentation, Gómez joked about the travails that he and his partners had to overcome in the early going. For instance, the first name they chose for their company translated to “massage” in Spanish. They eventually settled on SOLBEN, “which doesn’t mean anything, but a brand has been established.”

Gómez also spoke about how the young company would regularly enter entrepreneurship competitions, knowing full well that they had no chance of winning.

“We knew we had no shot,” he remarked. “The competitions all wanted business plans and we didn’t have a business plan. But we learned something every time.”

According to Inc. magazine, which named Gómez one of its 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs in 2011, SOLBEN’s sales were more than $1 million in 2010 and about $3 million in 2011.

In May 2011, Gómez was behind the launching of Caras Politicas (GovFaces), a website that enhances the ability of people to connect with their governmental representatives.

Gómez said he formed the website as the result of difficulties he had in contacting legislators in Mexico.

“It really was an experiment. I think it was one of the worst webpages in the world when it started, but it received 20,000 visits in two weeks,” he said. “I really had no thoughts of creating a company but now it is a million dollar company.”

According to Gómez, the advertisement-free site maintains a database of more than 10,000 registered politicians who users can communicate with directly on a daily basis. Its service is now available for Mexico, the United States and several other countries.

The appearance by Gómez at Niagara University resulted from a chance encounter with Dr. Anna L. McNab, assistant professor of commerce, during a conference in Chicago earlier this month. Dr. McNab was so inspired by his message that she immediately extended an invitation for Gómez to share his story at Niagara – and he graciously accepted.

Gómez planned to visit Niagara Falls today before heading back to New York City for meetings.

But first he left those in attendance Tuesday night with some food for thought.

“Someone once asked me what the difference was between Bill Gates and Mother Teresa. I said, ‘One has a lot of money and one doesn’t.’ So then I was asked if money is how success is measured. And I realized at that moment that success should be based on the amount of people you can impact in a positive way. Success is not a goal. It is a road, and it is up to you to determine how long to make it.”