It’s not everyday someone thinks to themselves “Fuck it, I’m doing this”, quits their job, risks everything and starts working on something they truly believe in, embracing failure every step of the way. Since Startup of Puerto Rico and events like Startup After Hours, Founder Institute, Startup Weekend, and others started I’ve slowly but surely seen it happening. The most recent person I know that decided to do this is Giselle Zeno. I’ve known her for a while and was very intrigued to know what finally triggered that mindset in her. Hopefully this is the first of a series of interviews to awesome people that have recently reached that mindset switch or are almost there.
The MIT students above had a single question,
“If I were to return to Puerto Rico to launch a company, what resources would I have?”
With that they invoked a network of Puerto Rico entrepreneurs living both locally and in the diaspora through the well-run MIT Student Conference on Entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico. We basically answered that question from the angle of,
“What would I have liked to know about entrepreneurship if I were were a member of the MIT Class of 2013?”
In short, it was relentless barrage of awesome. Gianpaolo Pietri waxed on his reality of waking up wishing the workday never ended given his passion for building Yasta.PR. Jason Borschow spoke about how to leverage whatever endowments you have. I (Marcos Polanco) shared several of the innovations I have worked on in Puerto Rico, including the launching of a startup community in collaboration with Ramphis Castro, also a speaker, and many other talents. Gaby Hernandez of BDO explained the incentives he is using to migrate wealth to the island. Jon Borschow of Foundation for Puerto Rico exhorting Puerto Rico to focus on the export and visitor economies, Francisco Uriarte detailed how to access capital…Manuel Calderon, Jose Cordero, Carlos Cobian (who firestarted the whole conference), Christine Nieves, Deepak Lambda, Eugenio Torres, Fernando Albertorio, Jorge Ferrer, all describing how they started and made it anywhere they live. You can catch videos of the presentations or grab links from the conference Twitter account. Here we are:
Then came the moment when it all crystallized for me…when I tweeted:
— Marcos Polanco (@MarcosPolanco)
In that moment I realized that we were not inviting the Boston students in the audience to come to some island, to some beaches or even to their families. Ultimately, fairly all of us speakers knew each other and collaborated with each other and were all pursuing our passions and profits in global markets…we were inviting those Boston students, from MIT to Harvard to BU, to join us, a network of innovators creating a brand new community based in Puerto Rico which simply did not exist even two years ago. That is an idea worth spreading and news worth writing about. “We help each other.” was not part of the old lexicon, yet it was the implicit message all day long, because we are having fun conquering the world, together.
Puerto Rico is not an island…
…The Network is the Puerto Rico.
I just came back from a trip to Los Angeles, my first time there in 23 years, and not only did I enjoy the LA vibe from Rancho Palos Verdes to Venice Beach…I was amazed at the ease with with I traversed it. Let’s not underestimate the power of the times we live in…
…a visit to Kayak to book a flight, then a visit to Airbnb to coordinate my stay. (Hi Neal!) I arrive, and given a notification on Facebook, one of my local friends picks me up at the airport. Thanks!
Whip out my 4G’d iPhone…Kayak again to get a great deal on a rental car, Yelp over to the best chorizo scramble I’ve had in years, navigate Google Maps to the local Planet Fitness (600 locations), and then zip over to Regus Business Lounge (1,200 worldwide) on Sunset Boulevard to crank some work out, iMac Air in tow. Close shop and head over to an LA Founder Institute event (40 cities), where I am instantly networked into the local startup scene.
I spend a couple days at a conference, and they distribute a mobile app with profiles of each attendee, which allows us acclimate to each other and remain connected over social media…
…the point is we are now locals everywhere, so why live anywhere? When mobility meets globality, we can pursue our work without bounds of time & place.