It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina, after attending the award ceremony for our Intalent prize given by MIT Technology Review and the Inter American Development Bank. The event was held at Tecnopolis, the hub for innovation and technology in the northern part of Buenos Aires. We had the opportunity to share our work with Stereotheque within the Innovators Under 35 Argentina and Uruguay award, also hosted by MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition, took place.
The growth of a region
Fortunately for us, we’ve been given access to very important circles of high-end technology happening in Latin America and the US. In the effort to document our experience and journey in building Stereotheque, it’s worth to mention the effective and ideal circumstances under which we are developing our company. We say this simply because the access to multiple sources of information, foreign investment, university-led incubators and many more are key to drive innovation in the region, something that wouldn’t haven been possible 5 or 10 years ago.
As a region, Latin America is very diverse, with very large economies including Brazil, Mexico with Argentina at a close third. Colombia, our home country is around 5th place, which serves as the underlying factor to attract foreign investment, drive innovation and foster entrepreneurship. Additionally, international and multilateral organizations including the Inter American Development Bank, MIT Technology Review and the Ministries of Science and Technology (or versions thereof) of each country, have spearheaded and encouraged the fast growth of entrepreneurship. In retrospect, there are many sectors ripe for innovation in the region. From manufacturing to life sciences and transportation to creative industries; the latter being our main focus, not only because of the wonderful mix of arts, music and technology, but because it represents around $646 billion according to the IDB and their book titled “The Orange Economy: An Infinite Opportunity“.
Innovators Under 35
During the Innovators Under 35 event, winners exposed their work done in the fields of bioscience, transportation, manufacturing optimization, crowdsourced information, gene sequencing, and ag-tech (agricultural technology). Being a New York-based startup also gives us the possibility of having a better overview of the how the global landscape looks in terms of emerging technologies. For instance, ag-tech is becoming an increasingly attractive investment opportunity for US-based investors including Google Venture Fund. On this front, we notice that there are multiple industry verticals ready to be disrupted, specially in diverse emerging markets including Africa, Central and South America.
A true investment opportunity
The opportunity that rises from having eyes on the LatAm region includes being in touch with very influential and smart folks. We had the chance to meet Robert Nicol, Director of Technology at the MIT and Harvard Broad Institute. They fields of focus include biomedicine and biotechnology, where many of their researchers are tackling problems like the effective treatment of diseases and how to cure cancer. In relation to our particular innovation with Stereotheque, Dr. Nicol’s input was totally valuable in terms of understanding the power of neural networks and the potential of artificial intelligence applied to music, music discovery, and music listening habits, something we’re aiming to disrupt.
Considering we’re targeting the users we truly know, i.e. Hispanic millennials, we believe the future for Latin American startups (based outside of LatAm or not) looks very promising. Another example of this opportunity is seeing prestigious funds like 500 Startups open up an accelerator in Mexico and spearheading investments in Black and Latino founders. Why is this important? Because angel investors, VC’s and entrepreneurs see the opportunity in this new sort of ecosystem, where people have different needs across different markets, and there’s a ton of things to be done. The creative industries (i.e. music) is just one of the many industry verticals that need innovation, we’re happy to be part of the journey, since we believe this will truly impact in a positive way the industry and its stakeholders.