The city of Medellín has grown tremendously in terms of technology in the last decade. That being said, its progress is still lacking in comparison to any major tech hub in the U.S. or Europe.
If you expect any major technology firms to be in the city, you would be disappointed. While HP moved in and even has an office here, they have plans to leave the city no later than 2017.
Despite, the lack of major IT corporations operating from the city, the city is booming with technology, and your startup might be an excellent addition.
So what are some things to consider before packing your bags and coming over?
1. Learn Spanish
Well, this might seem like a stereotypical start to almost any blog post, for any activity here in Medellín, but it is the truth.
If you are deciding to set up a startup here, Spanish is a must-have and with that I am not referring to the basic Spanish required to get yourself a drink in a bar, but the Spanish required to give instructions to a team, hire an attorney, etc.
While paisas are extremely patient, they don’t tend to understand words outside of the Colombian Spanish. So be prepared!
2. There are no guidebooks
I think this is where it goes wrong with most people when starting any business in Medellín.
Do expect to do a lot of things that may be outside your comfort zone. Like renting an office, getting internet (be ready this is not a one-day venture), hiring staff, getting the office furnished, etc.
You might find a peer that has gone through the same, but likely you are not in the same spot. Be prepared to re-invent the wheel for your industry here.
3. Government might help you out
The government might invest in your company anywhere between $25,000 to $40,000 and might require some equity.
Ruta-N could give you an office for 400,000 pesos ($120) per month, and this includes the internet (optic fibre). So there are some good deals in town.
4. Things are cheap in Medellín
This would for many be the main reason to come to Medellín. The prices are reasonable given the current rate of the Colombian Peso and the pricing in general.
Be aware that prices vary heavily throughout the city, with El Poblado being the most “gringo friendly,” but also the most expensive region.
If you are looking to bootstrap your company, you may want to consider living outside of El Poblado. Many barrios described in previous articles on this site are perfectly safe to live in, and many are close to the metro.
5. Hardware isn’t as easy to get as in the US or Europe, but there is a Free Trade Agreement
This might be a setback, but before you start thinking about coming over here, realize that the local market probably does not have all the hardware you might wish for. While Medellin has an authorized Mac store, its offerings are limited.
Don’t forget that all laptops will have a Spanish-oriented keyboard, which makes it harder to code.
So, you will need to bring or import most of your hardware. Not a big issue, but something to keep in mind.
The basics are available, but anything specific, you will need to import from the U.S.
6. The Internet Works
One of the great things about living in Colombia is that the internet works! In comparison to many other countries, the internet is working great.
Most households have a 10 MBIT or faster internet connection, and some locations like the Ruta-N building will have very fast internet.
Stable internet is a must for every starting entrepreneur in the tech realm. Medellín makes a great city in this regard.