1. Are you from Medellin? How long have you been living here? Do you have experience living/working outside of Colombia?
I was born and raised in Caldas, a town in the outskirts of Medellin. I have lived here my whole life.
I also had the chance to work 4 months in Finland as a global issues teacher in rural schools as part of a project that put together people 12 different countries.
Living and working with people from Uzbekistan, Nigeria, China, Brazil, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Romania and Canada, can be a tough experience for someone from a small town like me, but in the end that worked fine for me since I never took things too serious and got along with everybody.
Hint 1: Smiling every morning in a country with -15 degrees of temperature and only 4 hours of sunlight, can have a VERY positive impact on people.
Hint 2: if you are Paisa, bring you Paisa Hat. People will notice you are not from there and not feel strange why you are a so friendly.
Also, I had the chance to meet some business people in the north of Finland, in Oulu, known as the Silicon Valley of Northern Europe. Very positive experience since, unlike Colombia, people in high positions were open to meet me without much bureaucracy, something I really appreciate.
2. Tell us about the kind of business you have set up here. Do you work online or is it a brick-and-mortar business?
I am partner in a local tech company named Quatio that develops video games using motion detection technology.
We want to create new and more exciting video games to enter global markets; so far, we have been awarded by several local institutions, even representing Colombia as one of the most promising local companies in investor meetings in Silicon Valley, California.
Our goal is to build a Start-Up that can have the impact made by companies like Rovio, Zynga or even Facebook. One thing I am sure about is that, with proper resources, Medellin and Colombia can be a place for a company like Google to be born.
Although everything we do works on computers, we work in a rented house.
3. What inspired you to create your business? Why is it important?
After an internship in a big local company, I realized what I DIDN´T WANT in my life (Hint: everybody there was counting days for retirement).
So, after making a list of things I wanted: creating great things, travelling around the world, learning new things, finding love in foreign lands, etc. I found that entrepreneurship was the way to do it.
Plus, I always wanted to buy a Harley Davidson and working for a fixed salary would take me decades of saving, so I rather take the risk now and work for it in a way it only depends on me to do it.
Now, I consider it important not only for myself because what we do can inspire other local entrepreneurs to take the risk and also to create new and exciting things.
One of the goals is, after all this blood and tears are left in the field, to build a business accelerator to create and support new and disrupting companies in Medellin, but there is still too much in the road to cover.
4. What kind of challenges have you faced in starting your business here?
In the tech field: Locals business people don´t understand much what we do and this kind of companies are expensive to run and finding local investors is really hard.
So we have to bootstrap all our developments by selling custom made video games to big local companies for their advertising purposes. That takes too much effort and makes us move very slowly, especially if we want to create games for mass of the people.
5. What’s your favorite thing about living here?
My family, my friends, the weather and the Metro.
6. What advice can you offer those who want to move to Medellin and/or Colombia and start a business here?
For foreigners: just see what is working from where you are coming and try to make it here, just that don´t rely too much in getting partnerships with big local companies. They move slow and avoid taking risks, so make your case first and you will get attention.