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Crisis or revolution?

I am not an entrepreneur; I am a diver. We are lucky to be living in a moment in time that will shake up the world as we know it for good. I believe the fundamental thing isn’t what we are during this period in time, but the way we live it and what we participate in. The key is not to be an entrepreneur, public servant or wage earner. The remarkable thing is to integrate in the processes defining this extraordinary moment in history. Every revolution was experienced as a crisis in the time it took place. They are usually called crises by those contemporary to the historical period and revolution by those who survive it, or study it years later. This is our case, because we are living through intertwined revolutions and an extraordinary typology crossover.
What’s happening now is like giving birth. It’s critical and painful, yet over time we’ll see that it was nothing but a revolution, just like the industrial revolution or the invention of the printing press were in their times. In the past four or five decades, while many coexist with their crisis, others like us enjoy our revolution. To stop living in crisis and instead live the revolution, I have incorporated four traits into my life: uncertainty, vitality, instability and deconstruction.

Uncertainty is all that is needed to stay alive. For years I haven’t known what awaits me in my office, what new risks I will take on, or what people I will meet. For years, perhaps for my entire life, I have been seeking a definitive place. I dream that place does not exist, so I can continue to look for it all of my days. Being unaware of all that awaits us forces us to stay alert, to keep learning, and to be human beings in constant “beta”. My projects can’t be anything else; they reach their fullness in the constant redirection of their lines of creation.

Retirement as an anesthetic concept.  I feel for all those wanting to retire. I feel sorry for those people thinking the fate of everything is to arrive to a safe port, and in doing so, have everything guaranteed until your last breath. Considering the future is guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination is a mistake. Believing that retirement plans, pensions, or similar other gravy trains will finance our final stage is, at the very least, doubtful. We should accept the fact that our income in maturity won’t be the same as in other life stages. I hope to have the strength to continue doing what I like for the rest of my life. The moment it is not physically possible, it will be mentally. The desire to retire is pre-retirement in itself. I get distressed at the thought of not being able to run one day. However, I think if I am ever unable to run, I will close my eyes, turn on my iPod, find a windy place, and dream of it.

The deconstruction of processes is already part of our management and production model. If just a few decades ago the management plan of a company was just to be sure every day about what each person had to do, this has changed radically today. In construction, the agricultural sector, the stock markets, and the market in general in many places, the key to success was in all the members of a structure being sure of what they had to do from the moment they woke up every morning. Breaking these chains meant causing harm to the process which in turn brought about dire consequences. Let’s imagine a country where all the members of a farm have a clear idea of their functions, tasks and activities for every day of the week and for every hour of every day. Things never changed and it remained that way for centuries. These days, nothing is like that and processes no longer belong to protocols, but instead to analysis of need, risk, and action. This process of deconstruction has brought powerful industries to reinvent themselves.

The instability of being unable to stand an itinerary. When I first became a stock market broker, and my work was to go up in the pay scale, climb the ladder, everything looked right and solid. From time to time there was a promotion, an improvement, a new office. It was tremendously calming to know where I was going, what my destination was, and where my new goal was fixed. Everything was written, like in a book of life to be fulfilled. The evidence of stability started to give me anxiety to the point I decided to quit. I cannot stand living in that paralyzing, cowardly stability that prevents you from thinking big. I quit the job and I started a new business.

For years I have interpreted my life as a constant search (the desire to innovate) for challenges, experiences and dreams. I always do it with the hope of, if this is an exceptional moment in history, not missing out on the opportunity to live it. The characteristics of my journey are uncertainty, vitality, deconstruction and instability. What about yours?

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.

https://twitter.com/marcvidal/status/329534602739855362

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.