This is a guest post by Conrad Egusa.
In October 2012 my co-founder, Edinson Alberto Arrieta Aguas, and I launched a co-working space/entrepreneurial center called ESPACIO to help turn Medellin into the Silicon Valley of Latin America.
Many who have not visited Medellin may ask, the Silicon Valley of Latin America?
When I arrived in this city I did not expect to start a business – in fact I thought I would visit for 3 months. From the first day though, I was drawn to how similar the city is to Silicon Valley. The culture of opportunity, the openness of the people, the weather, there is something very special to this city.
My partner and I believe Medellin will become the center of innovation in Latin America, and we are not the only ones who share this belief. A recent Wall Street Journal nominated Medellin as one of the top 25 most innovative cities in the world. Sao Paolo, Brazil was the only other Latin American city nominated.
Many other notable publications, including TechCrunch, and the BBC, wrote about the launch of ESPACIO and about Medellin as an innovation hub.
We believe there are a number of reasons Medellin will become the Silicon Valley of Latin America. First, many of the brightest entrepreneurs, whether they are from the Startup Chile program, the city of Buenos Aires, or the country of Venezuela, are moving to Medellin because of the quality of life and the opportunity to build a business.
Second, the government has been furthering many initiatives to help and nurture entrepreneurship in the city. Organizations such as Ruta N and individuals such as Eduardo Quiroz, Director de Negocios de Conocimiento at Ruta N, are pillars in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide countless benefits to both Colombian and foreign entrepreneurs. People such as Luis Florez of iNNpulsa are spearheading new initiatives across Colombia.
Lastly, there is an organic tech community that is burgeoning. Groups such as CoffeeGrid and the Medellin Entrepreneurship Society gather dozens of entrepreneurs every week to discuss and develop new companies.
The migration to the city and the culture of opportunity and openness, is creating the perfect storm for an entrepreneurial community.
The goal of ESPACIO, the coworking space in the heart of Medellin, is to help further the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Medellin. We’re looking to take 26 of the most creative entrepreneurs (50% Colombian, 50% foreign), and to be more than an office, but to be a community. In addition to affordable desk space offered, we will be providing classes, demo days, free marketing and PR advice, and more.
If you are looking to build a business, there is no better place in the world to be than Medellin, and this is coming from a person who spent his life in Silicon Valley and New York. If you are planning a visit to the city and would like to learn more about the startup scene here, we provide a free weekly email with entrepreneurial events and updates.
Does this mean Colombians will someday stop using Flash and Dreamweaver to build websites?
We can only hope!
Good luck with your new adventure Dave!
I’d say Medellin is more a cheap development option for US Companies. I’ve found since I came here I’ve been offered a few positions….long hours and derisory pay, to say its a ‘Silicon Valley’ of sorts can only apply to the women with implants that knock around El Poblado et al…
This is interesting to read, I had no idea that Medellin had this reputation. I imagine that a lot of cities around the world receive the “next Silicon Valley” distinction – the city that I’m in (Chengdu, China) certainly receives that comparison a lot these days. Although it’s touted as that because it features some remarkable infrastructure (like the largest software park in the world, which I work in, coincidentally) I think of it as more of a cost-efficient development center than an area of innovation. When I think of Silicon Valley I think of industry-guiding innovation, not just a development center.
Anyway, thanks for publishing this Conrad.
Yes! I’m so stoked to work here in January. I didn’t realize this existed in Medellin.