A new space in Medellin opened its doors for start-ups and entrepreneurs to collaborate and grow their businesses in what the founder hopes will be the beginning of a new era for innovation in Colombia’s second city.
Espacio is the vision of Conrad Egusa and Edinson Alberto Arrieta Aguas, who are planting the seed of their ambition “to make Medellin the Silicon Valley of Latin America.”
“It is a co-working space and entrepreneurial center,” said Egusa, who himself has founded several companies. Egusa left Silicon Valley in the U.S. with the intention to work and travel, but said when he got to Medellin, he just stayed.
“I’m not sure what attracted me so much to this city. I think it is the culture of opportunity that is here and the great work ethic,” said the entrepreneur. “It reminds me so much of Silicon Valley.”
Egusa sees Espacio as a new entrepreneurial space for businesses to develop and grow, but said that it is not just an office space. “We want it to be a community, to be a central point for start-up business entrepreneurs to meet, we can provide additional help like marketing, hosting events and presentations. I wanted to create something open and inclusive, to create the right environment.”
“The idea is to get 26 of the most creative entrepreneurs together, I want to have 50% Colombian, 50% foreigners,” said Egusa whose partner in the enterprise is Colombian. “It will be a national and international environment, with people to share their expertise and knowledge. There will be access to national and international mentors.”
According to Egusa this kind of setup has become very popular in New York. “So many entrepreneurs can’t afford to pay six months rent on an apartment and pay for Internet. They are working out of coffee shops. This is affordable and it’s open 24-hours-a-day.”
Demand for Espacio has been strong and Egusa says that 50% occupancy has been taken up already. “It is a co-working space and entrepreneurial center, there are so many great resources available, we have a good mix of Colombians and foreigners already.”
The time is right to be an entrepreneur in Medellin which was recently nominated as one of the top 25 most innovative cities in the world and according to Egusa, has the right environment and right levels of government interest and support for start-up businesses.
“All the government initiatives have been very positive. There is a great attitude and work ethic and so we want to grow the entrepreneurial community in Medellin and make it a hub of business down here, the Silicon Valley of Latin America.”