Colombia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with Carolina Pereira

My last visit in Colombia was to Carolina Pereira, the Chief Organizer of the English Startup Weekend in Bogotá.

Carolina sees the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colombia as growing, but still in its infancy.

“The [entrepreneurial] ecosystem in Colombia is still just starting,” she told me,  “at least in terms of technology and innovation entrepreneurship. The majority of the entrepreneurs are still either lifestyle entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs out of necessity and work in the informal economy.”

While she believes that the ecosystem has the potential to mature fully and to become vibrant, she sees a couple of major hurdles holding Colombia back.

Firstly, she identifies a lack of cultural acceptance of entrepreneurship as a legitimate career choice.

“We have a high level of education,” she said,  “but, in general, you’re not going to become an entrepreneur because the examples you have seen encourage you to get a good job, an established job. You study, you practice, you learn English and then you’re supposed to get a good job at a multinational company…If your parents pay for you to go to school to learn and to get a career, it’s not so you can start a business, it’s so you can get a good job.”

Secondly, Carolina says that there is a lack of capital for early stage entrepreneurs because most investors see startups as too risky an investment.

“Here, what you would call an angel investor really practically doesn’t exist,” she told me.

“Most of the people that have made money are industrialists. They’re more traditional and they don’t know startups and startup investments don’t interest them…”

She does admit, however, that,

“if you ask entrepreneurs, they will say there aren’t enough investors and there isn’t capital, but, if you ask investors, they will say there aren’t enough entrepreneurs with good projects.”

Even if the entrepreneurs are right about the lack of investors, that seems to be changing with the generations  as Carolina continued to say, “…but their [the traditional investors’] children are interested. They’re people that know technology, have studied outside of Colombia, and they’re trying to create a space for this type of investment.”

Additionally, as the ecosystem grows, “there is also another type of investor who was an entrepreneur, and loves entrepreneurship, and wants to help with mentoring, etc.” Combine those two trends with the heavily-funded government support for entrepreneurship and you can see that this capital crunch may be able to fix itself in Colombia in the near future.

So, where does Carolina see the entrepreneurial ecosystem in 5-10 years?

“There will be sustainable businesses. There will be successful businesses,” she said, “but, if we can get a home run, if there are 1 or 2 Colombian companies that are global successes, this will drastically help to improve the ecosystem.”

Carolina also feels that where Colombia’s ecosystem ends up depends greatly on who happens to be in power in the Colombian government.

“The government is supporting entrepreneurship with a lot of programs right now, but that could change. It will depend a lot on who will be the next president,” she said.

Overall, however,

“I’m optimistic,” she said. “I think that the growth is going to continue. I hope entrepreneurship will be an option for many people here, for many young people.”


Argentina’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with Martin Vivas

My next stop in Argentina was to speak with Martin Vivas. He’s a powerhouse in the entrepreneurship scene in Buenos Aires helping to organize Palermo Valley, Founders’ Place, and Startup Weekend and basically being a part of everything having to do with startups. Because he’s been involved in the ecosystem for so long and has been an integral part of helping it to continue to mature, he had some interesting observations about what the entrepreneurial ecosystem is like in Argentina and why it has developed the way it has. Check out the video below to hear what he had to say and then weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

This is interview is in Spanish (except for the first few seconds) so I apologize in advance for my lack of skills in the language department.

Chile’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with David Truong

David Truong is the Head of Business Development at, the Founder of Broccol-E-Games, and an organizer of Startup Weekends in both Santiago, Chile and Adelaide, Australia. As an entrepreneur involved in the startup scene across three continents, he’s definitely someone whose brain I wanted to pick about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile, so I was really excited that he agreed to be interviewed. Since he’s currently splitting his time between the U.S. and Australia and I’m currently a nomad in South America, there’s no video this week, but he did answer some questions I had for him about his experiences as an entrepreneur and the similarities and differences he sees between the entrepreneurship scenes in different parts of the world.

Check out what he had to say below and then let me know what you think in the comments!


Tell us a little about yourself and about the projects you’re currently working on. 

I’ve have always been trying to create ‘successful’ businesses since a young age. From selling my drawings, to music, to tutoring, my first ‘real’ business was a vocational training company during university. After that I founded Broccol-e-games, which went through the AngelCube accelerator in Melbourne, Australia, then Startup Chile. I now work with, who have an incredible tech that allows any iOS app to be played in any browser. I’m also an organiser and facilitator for Startup Weekend. 
How did you find yourself in the world of entrepreneurship?

I just did things that I loved and that would also create value for someone else. Then I realised that I could sell it and wrap a business around it.

Why/how did you get involved with Startup Weekend in Santiago, Chile? 

I am one of the organisers and facilitators for Startup Weekend in Australia. Being in Chile, I thought it would be a good idea to also organise an event there, since there was a lot of entrepreneurial activity happening in the region. I brought together a fantastic team for the event and we organised and executed the event successfully.

What’s your take on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile as compared to other parts of the world?

I can only comment about the tech entrepreneurial ecosystem: Compared to the rest of Latin America, it is in a very good position thanks mostly to the Startup Chile program. Compared to other parts of the world, it is behind in some areas. Like a lot of countries, it needs a lot more skills in building products, companies, early stage financing, and web tech entrepreneurship.

Would you recommend Santiago to entrepreneurs? Why or why not?

It would depend on the entrepreneur, what their business is, what industry, and what they plan to do there. I would definitely recommend it if the business was targeting the Spanish speaking market, or if they wanted to eventually move into the Brazilian market. 

Where do you see the entrepreneurship scene in Santiago in 5-10 years?

That is a tough question… for tech entrepreneurship, I think the ‘seeds’ from Startup Chile will have blossomed within 5-10 years. There would be a few companies with rather large exits that would validate what the Chilean government is currently doing. Unfortunately, the word on the street is that programs like Startup Chile may be discontinued in a change of government, which could be as early as the upcoming election.

Any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with new or aspiring entrepreneurs?

Focus on solving a problem that you are passionate about. Entrepreneurship is hard, but is very rewarding even if you ‘fail’. There is so much to learn and so much room to grow with building a business.