While I experienced an epic fail last week when my dog ate my homework (aka my computer had a meltdown and lost my video interview with Ignacio Castro, the Founder of Startup Costa Rica) I think that the work Ignacio is doing through Startup Costa Rica is valuable and interesting so I am giving the organization its own post.
Ignacio is a Costa Rican who’s relocated to the U.S. but still has high hopes for building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in his home country, which is why he founded Startup Costa Rica. While he sees entrepreneurship building momentum throughout Latin America, he believes there is a gap in Central America with most of the major activity and growth happening and South America and Mexico. Partly, that is because of the small size of the countries located in Central America. Costa Rica, for example, has a population of around 5 million. However, if you take Central America as a whole, you have a viable market with approximately 45 million potential consumers.
According to Ignacio, Costa Rica has a lot going for it: it’s population is very well-educated and has the talent to build exciting new companies. Additionally, many people speak English – a definite advantage for entering the global marketplace – and the country is a Green leader. He’d like to see companies attacking the Central American, or larger Latin American, market with a base in Costa Rica, and that’s exactly what he hopes to encourage through Startup Costa Rica and would be thrilled if Costa Rica could develop to the point of having a model similar to that of Startup Chile or Startup Spain. It will be tough to get that level of monetary support from Costa Rica’s government, however, so he’s hoping to work with international agencies to help develop the program.
Ignacio’s vision for the future of Startup Costa Rica is based on two pillars: learning and acceleration. The organization will promote learning through an annual conference, startup school, angel school, hackathons and similar events, meetups, and workshops. It will also help to accelerate startups’ growth through the creation of competitions, a diaspora network, co-working spaces, demo days, investment, growth support, and promotion abroad.
If you’d like to get involved with Startup Costa Rica, visit the website and signup.