The entrepreneurial spirit forms part of the intrinsic culture of all of the Ibero-American countries. Despite social differences, Latin America has historically been a region which has enthusiastically embraced technological developments. In the 90s, many of its countries were leaders in the penetration of cable TV. Now they also find themselves at the top of the rankings of Internet use while broadband penetration continues to grow.
As a region Latin America has the fastest growing number of Internet users. It’s also has the highest social network usage. Some 95% of Internet users routinely use them. For example, more than 10% of the population of Latin America is on Facebook.
It is no surprise then that a growing number of Latin American Internet start-ups are gaining impressive traction. The employment portal Bumeran.com; the social network Sonico.com; online advertisement community OLX.com; and the travel agency Despegar.com are a few examples of young innovative Latin American high growth Internet companies.
However, to get to the next level and develop their projects, entrepreneurs need external funding and partners. A few have been able to make the leap thanks to a link with Europe. For example, Wanako Games, founded in 2002 by three Argentinian entrepreneurs living in Chile, was acquired in 2007 by Vivendi Games for $10 million. (One of Wanako Game’s co-founders , Esteban Sosnik, has created a new company, Atakama Labs, and will be speaking at La Red Innova on June 15).
More companies from Latin America could go global if the bridges with Latin America are strengthened. That is why we believe that it is important to have a forum like La Red Innova, which links Latin America with Europe.
La Red Innova, a tech conference taking place in Madrid June 14 and June 15 is, above all, an open forum for the exchange of ideas related to technology and innovation, but also an environment in which to share where the latest trends are leading us with the people who are at the forefront of these changes. The entrepreneurs, who represented 33% of the participants last year, found it to be a great opportunity to present their proposals to potential investors, meet potential partners and generate new business.
We expect the same to be true this year. This is particularly important during the global economic crisis . New technologies and investment in R& D are going to give a competitive advantage to the companies which are committed to them. After all, innovation and sharing of knowledge are the best way out of this crisis.
Pablo Larguía is founder of La Red Innova and co-founder and European leader of Weemba, an innovative lending platform. Before launching La Red Innova, Pablo was involved in other web-based relevant projects and in the production of films, television and theater.