Javier Garay, 34 years old, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New Orleans when he was seven and had to go through the first part of his schooling without speaking English, something he recalls vividly. His father was a chemical engineer at Dow Chemical and he also has an older brother and younger sister. Javier went to Harvard University majoring in economics (older brother also went to Harvard and younger sister went to Yale) and took a job with Merrill Lynch as a hedge fund trader. After six years, Javier decided to go to business school and went to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, earning an MBA in entrepreneurship. Most recently, Javier worked with Stevens Capital Management until the fourth quarter of 2012 before deciding to make a move to pursue something on his own. Despite his great successes, he wanted to cultivate his passion for children and learning, so he reached out to Dori Roberts, owner of Engineering For Kids.
The idea to start an Engineering for Kids franchise came to him in 2011 when his oldest son turned two and received a flashlight for his birthday. As his son played with the flashlight, discovering all of its parts, the link between engineering and education dawned on him. He fondly calls this the “flashlight incident.” Javier understands that children are natural born engineers who have unlimited imaginations and unbridled enthusiasm. He is passionate about helping children tap into their potential by exposing them to the role that engineers play in our daily lives. Javier speaks fluent Spanish, has been married for nine years and has three children.
How did you learn about the brand? I was looking online for entrepreneurial ideas that I could do with my son and came across the organization.
Why did you choose an opportunity with Engineering For Kids? It really was the flashlight incident. It was a moment that made me think, “Alright let’s go find something.” And when I found EFK and discovered it was a franchise, it was a good fit for me.
I am currently teaching at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, PA and have secured space there in July for summer camps. I will also be holding camps this summer at the Horsham Township Community Center in July and August. Long-term, I am planning to place registration on my EFK website and expand to other schools, libraries and community centers in my territory. There are well over 200 schools in my area and I hope to be able to service all of them. I currently teach on Mondays and Thursdays and I am making the preparations for summer camps this summer.
Are you involved with any charities or do any community outreach with your business? I am just getting underway, but I did meet with the head of the local township chamber of commerce. I also hope to get involved with the local rotary club and was invited over there for weekly meetings. Getting more involved with the community is one of my next goals.
What challenges have you overcome to get where you are now? The biggest hurdle for me has been taking that leap and being self-employed after having a successful career on Wall Street for so many years. With a relatively young family it was definitely a tough decision, but luckily my wife and I have been able to make it work as she remains employed as well.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or passions? All of my waking hours are spent being a dad, but I love spending time with my family. I’m also an avid traveler and have been to over 35 countries in my life, not near as high as my wife who has been to over 50 countries.