It was quite a treat last week to interview someone that I’ve gotten to know a lot better during the past couple of years, first, as Advisor to the company he co-founded called Tappsi, makers of the leading taxi hailing app in Colombia, and more recently as an Executive Vice President at that same company. During this interview, part of a series for Startup Grind, I asked Juan about his journey towards becoming a successful startup founder (from Colombia to Canada and back) and the challenges of being the CEO of a startup that gets to compete with well-funded giants such as Uber.
When Juan told me about Tappsi more than two years ago and introduced me to his co-founder, Andres Gutierrez, I had never seen growth numbers in Colombia such as the ones they were sharing with me (nor since). It was absolutely phenomenal. As Jerry McGuire might say, “you had me at 5000 downloads.” I became their advisor when the company consisted only of the two co-founders. Today, the company now boasts more than 80 employees.
Back then, some (not all) in the industry (none of them close colleagues) would tell me that Uber was going to kill them or that they didn’t have much of a future. It’s been pretty much fun to see time prove these voices wrong. Fortunately, neither I nor the co-founders paid much attention to these voices and, anyway, the optimistic opinions were far more plentiful.
The interview was relaxed and a lot of fun. As I wrote in a previous post, we are conducting these interviews in English so that global investors and other players can get excited about Latin American and Colombian entrepreneurs. Though we didn’t record the question and answer session, Juan, who is also a mentor at the Founder Institute, responded to a number of great questions from the audience about the initial success he started to achieve with Tappsi and other interesting topics. Later, we were able to enjoy a productive networking session with food and drink. As I mentioned during the Q&A, Juan has a calm determination an attention for detail that serve him incredibly well in executing any initiative (e..g, products, new companies, etc.).