Startups, ‘hubs’ and my future

My friends warn me that travelling so much can’t be good. A little bit is fine, but this compulsive need can’t last my whole life. I don’t know, maybe they are right, maybe they are not. What I am sure of is that you learn while travelling, you become more intuitive and you are able to catch scents that you didn’t even know existed before. Regarding what I want to talk to you about today, travelling was key, and still is.
A few days ago a report was released that focused on some world cities of high interest in terms of startups or as technological hubs. It was an approximation of places that are not traditionally regarded as such. San Francisco, Berlin, New York, Miami, Santiago, Dubai, and Singapore didn’t appear in that report. On the other hand, they pointed out places like Amsterdam, Bangalore, Bogota, Dublin, Lisbon, Nairobi, St. Petersburg, Stockholm or Toronto. All of them have a clear positive pathway ahead of them, but each runs parallel to its own local crisis; all of them are focused on concentrating talent, digitalization, and the expectation of making their products global.

In this list, there are three cities where IDODI and its spin-offs are already settled and have been working hard for quite some time. Bogota, Lisbon, and Dublin. Each one for a different reason, but all of them with something in common. It’s not easy, and whoever believes it will spend money and energy, since it’s a very twisted thing, but it’s doable. The key is knowing where and with whom you are going, to persevere, to be prepared for often feeling alone, and to be ready to eat all types of food. I like to think that having been stumbling around for so long, knowing first hand who does what and how they do it, what processes, protocols, and contacts you need in order to understand the rhythm of each place, has given me clear advantages in being able to place bets on locations with potential in the near future, despite any data saying otherwise.

We’re still planning to open a round of investments in June for almost ten different companies from the pool we manage or mentor; we have finished their development and in some cases they are already in production. Now, it’s curious that having received requests to be part of those startups I supervise, most of that interest comes from the countries mentioned in this link, way above the interest shown by investors from Spain. Development requires ideas, entrepreneurs, technology, and stimulus, but above all, it requires venture capital. If it doesn’t flow in one place, it will in another, and everybody will follow that flow positioning themselves in the ways they see fit, bringing relief of some, bringing glory to some more, and disgrace to the majority that always stay on their “couch”.

I’ve been travelling to Latin America for business for two decades. I’ve seen everything, and I hope to tell the story one day. I remember how Bogota was eighteen years ago and how risky it was to attend any event even in the best areas in the city. Mr. Alvaro Uribe explained to me that when he still was the President of Colombia, his dream was to set the foundation there for the future of the Silicon Valley of Latin America. He knew it depended on much more that his own work and he concentrated his efforts on bringing together different agents that are now the key for this technological model to expand and take root.

There’s evidence that the socioeconomic model is at stake at a planetary level. We can see how environments that have traditionally been far away from the digital and technological scene have slowly become part of it. It’s no longer required to have sophisticated research labs in order to develop disruptive technology. Now a connection allows you to travel thousands of miles, get training without leaving Dakar and start giving birth to an idea that, even though it may be a copycat of a more developed one coming from more advanced countries, can be adapted to the location’s idiosyncrasies and current technological needs. Keep an eye on the most powerful startups from the African continent.

I leave you by posting again a link to the selection of cities to take into account, titled “Emerging Tech: 9 International Startup Hubs to Watch”. Here are the nine international centers for technological startups that could be under the radar of any entrepreneur with international sights. These vibrant communities are more than places where startups are set up. They are total points of reference in terms of innovation and support, where inspiration and transpiration combine with business plans ready to be incubated. Opportunities arise and, most certainly, even entire markets are born around them. Whoever believes that internationalizing technology doesn’t require hub destinations is wrong. For countless businesses, just doing it any which way is the second mistake. We will talk about the adventures my team is having in further posts, in case it interests you.