To become a booming tech hub, a city needs figures that inspire and shape their surrounding entrepreneurial ecosystem, growing along with it. Medellin, one of the top-growing epicenters of business disruption in Latin America, is no exception.
One of such personalities is Carlos Alvarez, a young Colombian entrepreneur with a passion for global business. Only 22 years old, Carlos has been involved with entrepreneurship for over 7 years, way ahead of his peers in an environment that has shaped him just as much as he has shaped it.
His latest endeavor is Workep, a project management platform closely integrated with cloud-based Google products. Following Carlos’ vision, Workep has already earned over $100,000 in funding and is expanding rapidly towards the European and U.S. markets.
Read more about Workep works on The Sociable.
In an interview with Edgar Medina (EM) of Techcetera, Carlos shared some of his secrets for success as well as lessons from past failures that have made him a better businessperson.
EM: Carlos, what made you go into entrepreneurship?
CA: Passion. I have always believed that every single one of us has the potential to come up with unique solutions to a given problem. I am motivated by the possibility of improving the lives of others, to help them grow; this gives meaning to my existence.
I was never one to fit right into a traditional model of doing things; I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to find my own way.
EM: Please tell us about your first entrepreneurial endeavor.
CA: When I was 15 years old, I founded Fooddogg, a company dedicated to selling food for cats and dogs at low cost.
I learned to code taking online courses. My first project was to hack my high school’s Wi-Fi to use it with my schoolmates. I went on to start LinkCall, a video call platform for LinkedIn. Later I created a corporate social network called WebLine; we competed against Yammer, later acquired by Microsoft. Since [Microsoft] controlled the market segment, we were completely pushed out!
EM: How did that first endeavor evolve? You were only 15 years old!
CA: [Fooddog] was an e-retailer that offered pet food at low cost. We had agreements with distributors that allowed us to sell products at unbeatable prices. We began distribution in town with a motorcycle that belonged to my friends, so I was working in both the logistics and tech sides.
Problems arose due to my lack of experience in business and administration, which led the company to bankruptcy.
EM: What core values are required to succeed as an entrepreneur?
CA: You need to have passion, gratitude, commitment, a vision and a strong work ethic. Therein lies the recipe for success.
EM: What is it like working at Workep?
CA: We believe in remote work. Our employees are goal-oriented, which is far more important than the hours they spend sitting at their desks. We prefer hiring talent from different countries, in line with our global outlook. We provide freedom for them to unleash their potential.
EM: What are the main challenges you have faced in this endeavor?
CA: Creating a platform from scratch, in very little time with our talented but small team. The tech world moves at vertiginous speeds and working relentlessly becomes a mandatory ingredient for success. Charming the world with a Colombian-made platform is a huge challenge.
EM: What comes next for Workep?
CA: We are looking forward to implementing a business model comprising over 100 resellers, as well as launching a premium service and an API that will enable third parties to strengthen our platform.
By the end of 2018 we expect to have integrated AI-based functionalities. Three years down the road, we aim to either get acquired by Google or to expand to integration with other platforms, such as Office 365 and Salesforce.