Daniel Madariaga Barrilado

If you work hard enough toward a goal, it will eventually be accomplished; but mistakes along the way are a part of the process!


Daniel Madariaga Barrilado is a Mexico City-based entrepreneur working to deliver innovative and ecological solutions for the future of sustainability initiatives in the country, focused primarily in construction and mobility. Promoting green construction while combating air pollution and traffic congestion, Madariaga is directly responding to the needs of a growing urban area, positioning Mexico City to be a global leader in bold and sustainable solutions. As a prominent figure in the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) movement, Daniel Madariaga works to provide advanced, efficient and modern mobility applications to a bustling metropolis of nearly 9 million residents – the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere.

Madariaga graduated from the EGADE School of Business at Monterrey Technological University – a program internationally distinguished for a tradition of entrepreneurship. According to EGADE, the school prides itself on creating global business figures that lead through sustainability to change the world: “[Your} company’s growth should not be opposed to the requirement of social and environmental responsibility,” reports the EGADE credo. “It is essential to incorporate sustainability in the organization’s strategies. In EGADE we develop upright and responsible leaders, who impact society positively.”

Another of Daniel Madariaga’s areas of expertise is in the formation of new urban areas that employ sustainable architecture and innovation, dubbed futuristic “smart cities.” These cities adopt concepts like “smart parking,” and use technology to improve governance, planning, management and livability by gathering real-time data. The smart parking industry continues to evolve as an increasing number of cities struggle with traffic congestion and inadequate parking availability, and several cities around the world are already beginning to trial self-parking vehicles, specialized AV parking lots and robotic parking valets. Madariaga is working with industry leaders in the country to introduce plans for parking solutions for Mexico City moving into the new decade.

Where did the idea for [Insert Company Name] come from?

I was born in Mexico City, and I have seen the city grow and change tremendously from my youth. I was always interested in the ways that the city shifts to new models and transforms around its citizens to accommodate growth and innovation. After EGADE, I was empowered to apply sustainability models to new business practices and have always thought about how we could make our every day smarter and more sustainable.

The idea to use sargassum as new building materials came from a deep demand in the community to figure out solutions for a growing problem. Due to changing climates, the algae was proliferating on our coasts and affecting tourism – but a revolutionary idea turned this waste into a new renewable resource. We quickly found that sargassum bricks were less expensive than traditional building materials and even more durable. Not only did we find that construction costs would be reduced by up to 50 percent, but it has been proven that sargassum blocks have a longer useful time compared to cement, with a durability of up to 120 years. Another factor for which we promote this construction model is that they could be used to build houses or buildings anywhere in the country, under any kind of weather. This trend is now sweeping coastal areas while new developments are surely on the horizon. These strategies to take advantage of resources that were once wasteful will contribute to the creation of smart cities that will make their own resources and their own energy. We build these ideas brick by brick – one idea on top of another – to reach new innovations along with new, eco-friendly options.

Currently, we’re working to fight against traffic congestion in Mexico City – another idea that is wrought out of necessity as the city becomes less and less drivable. Automated parking is an idea that would start to chip away at the major issues, and we see really smart solutions at work in other cities around the world. There’s a fully automated garage in operation in Colorado using lasers to scan cars in and robotic valets to park; vehicles are transported by a robotic dolly to lift and transfer to storage racks, allowing access for more than four times its previous capabilities in the same amount of space. If we think of this on a larger scale – the ability to use smart compacting to free up four times more space in the city – the applications could change our landscape of traffic and useable space in our cities.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I actually don’t have a “typical day.” It’s normal to have four or five meetings on the agenda before lunch time, but these conferences can range between managers, city leaders and planners, construction operators and media. Productivity is only achieved with organization! My day is blocked off methodically with little room for overflow, so I meticulously keep track of meeting time as well as personal time throughout the day in order to maintain a strict schedule.

I wake up every morning around 5am, exercise – meditation – shower – breakfast – and out the door usually around sunrise about 7am. I like keeping my morning routine consistent throughout the week and follow the same practice on weekends. I find I am my most productive in this morning time with personal reflection and new ideas. After meetings and lunch, I like to regroup the events of the day and organize accordingly for the week ahead.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The biggest successes of my career have only been achieved with massive amounts of help from like-minded supporters. Whether its planning innovative parking solutions for a metropolitan area the size of Mexico City or implementing green building techniques, you have to have people in your corner – people who believe in your vision. Along with support, ideas that drive innovation must be backed with the proper amount of investigation, research, development, scrutiny and experimentation.

Since my time in business school, I have dedicated my career to studying and creating smart solutions for metropolitan cities. I look toward other cities already leading this industry and build on those people who are getting it right with new and exciting solutions.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Self-driving and self-parking cars will be the norm before we know it. Autonomous vehicles have been in research and development for many years, but we’re still a long way away from completely driverless capabilities. Once these technologies are standard and safe, self-driving cars should offer a wealth of new advantages on the road: new safety advantages like reduction in collisions; advanced welfare via reduction in labor costs by offering drivers more time for work or leisure; traffic advantages like higher speed limits, smoother rides, increased road capacity and minimized congestion; economic impacts via fuel economy predictions with optimized drive cycles and reduced congestion; and increased parking accuracy (among many others).

By reducing the labor and other costs of MaaS, automated cars could reduce the number of cars that are individually owned, replaced by taxi/pooling and other car-sharing services – this would also dramatically reduce the size of the automotive production industry, with corresponding environmental and economic effects.

There are many factors to consider when determining potential advantages, but an industry working toward sustainability and smart solutions is a trend that should excite us all!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am constantly looking for the next trend, reading about new technologies, learning about sustainability programs around the world and voraciously cultivating the habit of self-education to drive my own productivity and interest for new projects. I stay sharp in my area of expertise and push myself to keep up with the rate of new technology, so that I can remain a trusted partner in advocating MaaS and sustainable initiatives for my country.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Ask more questions. Continue to learn from everyone around you. When you’re younger it’s easy to think you have all the answers, but throughout my career I’ve had the best surprises and the best educational moments from unexpected mentors. I’ve learned to use curiosity as a platform to gain insight.

Everyone has a story to tell! Use those stories to empathize while you continue to build your own.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You only have to get it right once.

If you work hard enough toward a goal, it will eventually be accomplished; but mistakes along the way are a part of the process!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I think it’s universally important to show your appreciation. Whether toward the managers or retail workers or faces of your businesses, or to partners and co-creators, business collaborators, friends… Give credit where credit is due and share the amount of respect for others that you would like to receive. I like to think that “praise in public, correct in private” has far-reaching benefits and entrusts a sense of dignity and ownership that empowers people on your team.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Surround yourself with a smart, talented team with diverse specialties. Promote from within and empower the people around you to collaborate. I think the biggest ideas and the strongest results have always come from group think.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

To again emphasize the importance in surrounding yourself with a smart and trusted team – I had to learn this lesson through a few trials in starting my entrepreneurial career. When I was in business school, I made deals with other entrepreneurs whose values didn’t align with my own, so with any successes came disagreements on next steps.

Finding likeminded men and women with whom to build brands, businesses and ideas has always been the key in our greatest triumphs.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We changed the landscape of a beach in Mexico by creating building materials out of the seaweed that was ruining the coast. My big idea is that anything old can be new, anything used can be used again, and if we can think of wasted materials as being the next item in demand, we can change the world.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Spending on business lunch, dinner or a quick cup of coffee is always a good investment in productivity and collaboration!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I think Uber has been a game-changer for transportation as more people are using ride sharing, and the company being a global employer speaks to economic benefits of innovative mobility solutions. I look forward to seeing this trend grow in new ways as more and more cities around the world offer solutions and the next wave of MaaS.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I think it’s important to stay relevant in your field by keeping up to date with new research and changing opinions. I often read business journals that detail innovations in smart city planning around the world, and I enjoy reading opinions from other experts in the field.

This year, Hop, Skip, Go by John Rossant and Stephen Baker did a great job in exploring MaaS around the world, looking at how changes are impacting the economy, climate, cities and individuals. The authors make the case that the revolution of the Information Age is being carried over into real-world solutions (and consequences) and it’s really fascinating to think about the wildly changing landscape of cities and their mobility services and transportation options, even in the short timeframe of the next decade.

Design Thinking for the Greater Good had a good commentary on the transportation sector. This was an interesting read that offered creative, unique solutions for leaders in various sectors.

What is your favorite quote?

“Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe” – this again ties in with my belief in collective possibility. If we continue to nurture relationships – personal or professional – we attract others to match our levels of positivity, respect, enthusiasm and diligence. I surround myself with people who push me to work harder and work smarter – a quality that, in my field, is pushing forward collective new ideas for the future of sustainability initiatives and innovation in our growing cities.

Key Learnings:

  • Promoting green construction while combating air pollution and traffic congestion
  • MaaS (Mobility as a Service) movement
  • Use technology to improve governance, planning, management and livability by gathering real-time data