"Using this method, I went from a teller to an executive," says Carlo Martinez CEO of Steppingblocks by@eking

"Using this method, I went from a teller to an executive," says Carlo Martinez CEO of Steppingblocks

Steppingblocks HackerNoon profile picture


We provide organizations People Intelligence to segment, visualize and access data and analytics for the U.S. workforce.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

Street perfume sales guy turned data and analytics finance nerd and now Founder and CEO of Steppingblocks.

Throughout my career, I developed an affinity for data science and data analytics. This field I had never really heard of during my college years. Like most students after graduation, I struggled to find job opportunities related to my major. I took jobs in retail, bartending, and street perfume selling while trying to get a foot in the door in the financial industry. I finally landed a job as a teller, where my professional career started. Once there, I found a formula to climb the corporate ladder into a career that I chose.

Because of this career path, I became obsessed with helping students connect college degrees to careers sooner, without unnecessary and irrelevant detours. So, I decided to build a platform that provides everyone with data transparency and availability that levels the playing field for everyone.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Steppingblocks. We provide data-driven organizations PI (People Intelligence) to segment, visualize, and access current data and predictive analytics in the U.S. workforce.

What is the origin story?

It started with a drawing.

While climbing the corporate ladder, I realized I was making repetitive and systematic steps to get ahead, but I was doing it on my own and very manually. So my formula for career growth was simple:

  1. Learn about opportunities that lie ahead.
  2. Research and select the next step in my career while connecting with people in the role I want.
  3. Learn the skills, education, and experience needed to get in, while building a network of relevant people.
  4. Shape my profile accordingly and start building relationships with people that influence my job opportunity placement.

Using this method, I went from a teller to an executive in data and analytics within the financial industry.

I began to think about how I could scale the method for career progression in any discipline using my expertise in data analytics. I drew a picture of a website that would allow me to search for any job or major, and it would tell me what people did with that major or how they got to their current position. Understanding that data is not everything, the website would also provide advice and insightful content from real-life individuals who have followed the desired path.

I started my research and quit my full-time corporate job to pursue this dream from that idea. I knew I could use this methodology to build something that would help students like myself avoid unemployment, underemployment, increased time to graduation, and excessive student loan debt. After facing many challenges building the software, data, algorithms, application, etc., I developed a prototype that led to finding my co-founders, funding, and creating a platform that is used by students around the world today.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

Three things: They are great people (personally), they are passionate about helping people and our mission, and everyone is extremely good at what they do.

The skill sets of one team member are complements to another, and everyone is passionate about contributing their unique talents to the company's greater good. We care about solving complex problems and sharing innovation with our partners and peers. The team has an incredible balance and positivity that has helped us get through the good & bad times.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

If I had never started, probably the same thing I was doing before and continuing the ruthless climb of the corporate ladder. If I were not building or creating something, I would probably be traveling the world looking for the best place to open a beach bar shack.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

We measure success by the overall progression of the company, such as the quality of our products, clients growth, retention rates, user engagement metrics, customer satisfaction, and team satisfaction.

We also look at our impact by identifying use cases and success stories from our client's perspective. The number of successes our clients share with the world is highly correlated with the number of referrals and increases in lead generation.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

The impact that we have been able to make on people's lives!

  • Over 30K people now use Steppingblocks.
  • 20 of the top universities and research institutions in the U.S. now use Steppingblocks.
  • We have active users in 35 Countries, all 51 U.S. states, and 2,003 US cities.
  • Students are writing papers about their careers, finding new opportunities, and engaging in career exploration at an early stage (which reduces overall dropout rates and increases graduation rates and employability outlook).
  • We see organic growth in the student population in social channels like TikTok.

Referral and word-of-mouth marketing through high-caliber university networks has propelled Steppingblocks into the strategic plans of public and private institutions nationwide. As a result, we've earned the trust of the most innovative institutions in the country and deliver cross-campus solutions with relative ease. I'm proud of our ability to produce quality tech and build relationships and credibility with an adamant crowd.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

I’m excited about the number of options that have become available to work with big data architectures.

When I started, one of my biggest blockers was analyzing billions of data points and providing insights in real-time within milliseconds. The machine learning capabilities at scale are now more available than ever with the exemplary architecture and talent.

I’m worried about the misuse of AI and ML. While ML and AI have become more accessible, I worry many people will create unreliable data platforms without the proper data quality and standards necessary for accurate decision-making.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

Our Chief Data Scientist recommended the HackerNoon platform to me, and he's easily the most intelligent guy I know.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

I would have advised myself to learn object-oriented programming, work on my communication skills, and use the Steppingblocks method for career planning — so that I didn't have to work at a Wendy's while having a finance degree :)

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

The importance of community building. Our business has transformed since we started to provide value to the community and allow the community to participate in our conversations. Building a community from your partners, users and advocates provide you with direct feedback, improvement opportunities, referrals, and ultimately growth.

Vote for Steppingblocks for Startup of the Year, Atlanta


Signup or Login to Join the Discussion


Related Stories