• Reflections on running an innovation workshop for bankers.

    TropicalGringo Hacking Finance NextBank
    This week, I was invited by some top-notch colleagues (Andres Fontao and Fermin Bueno with a great recommendation from Dan Gertsacov) to work with executives from the top banks in Colombia by running a digital innovation workshop we called “Hacking Finance @ Next Bank Bogotá”.  I must say that I enjoyed myself immensely and was pleasantly surprised by the engagement I saw from the bankers.  Andres and Fermin worked with me on designing the workshop with group activities and interaction with real-world unbanked consumers.

    It is evident even here in Colombia, where the banking industry makes some pretty nice profits, that global disruption is of deep concern to the banking industry.  In fact, this year, I’ve been working with a few corporate clients and have noticed a heightened interest in innovation and the whole startup phenomenon. Though this has made for some stimulating work, by far, the most satisfying experience of this year has been working with the companies that I advise and, in particular, working full-time with one of these (I need to write a post on this).

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  • What can emerging market investors learn from unicorns?

    Unicorns emerging markets

    Since Aileen Lee’s TechCrunch post last year on so called “unicorns”, startups valued at $1 Billion and above, the term has gained widespread adoption.   From the perspective of a fund manager at any top VC firm, investing in a future unicorn can be key.  However, I’ve been wondering if any of the lessons from Aileen’s post hold any lessons for startups in emerging markets, such as Latin America.

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  • Out to transform business in Colombia

    Lean Startup Enterprise Colombia

    I’ve found that it pays to have lofty goals.  When I first arrived to Colombia, I worked at a well-known technology multinational corporation and told my team that I wanted to build a world-class services organization.  One way to measure ourselves was by the satisfaction of our user base.  Four years later, we were named the top country by that metric in the whole world.  Now, I’m at it again, seeing how ridiculously ambitious I can get with a new Lean Startup Enterprise initiative.

    In a sense, I’m expanding the scope of what I do with the Founder Institute, which I’ve been running for four years in Colombia.  While that incubator (I’m careful not to say accelerator as one commenter is sensitive to the use of this term :)) is focused on startups, the Lean Startup Enterprise initiative expands this scope and invites corporate employees to join the party.

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  • No le cuenten a nadie

    Founder Institute Bogota 2014

    Escogí este titulo (“No le cuenten a nadie”) para este post como un criticismo a mi mismo.  Como el Director del Founder Institute Colombia por cuatro años, es mi responsabilidad comunicar mejor los logros de esta institución y su envidiable red de mentores en Colombia.  Sin embargo, cada vez que escucho conversaciones sobre las aceleradoras de startups en Colombia, por alguna razón, no se menciona la que, junto con Wayra, lleva cuatro años en el pais y la que conecta a los emprendedores con mentores de Colombia y de Silicon Valley: el Founder Institute Colombia.

    FI BogotaAnoche lanzamos (ver foto principal é izquierda) la quinta promoción del Founder Institute, aceleradora “pre-idea” en Colombia. Este año la mayoría del programa está financiada por los mismos emprendedores (una especie de crowdsourcing funcionando desde hace cuatro años en Colombia) ya que cada uno paga un “course fee” para inscribirse al programa.  Antes de esto, cada emprendedor ha tomado un examen psicotécnico para medir su aptitud para crear un startup de alto impacto y solo son aceptados los que, según dicho examen, poseen esta aptitud.

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