Medellín, Day 8

IMG_4253.jpgDay 8, March 14

Given the different meet up times with our start up companies, today was one of the most flexible of the trip.  Some groups met with their Colombian partners for full presentations, others had initial meetings, and others scheduled visits for another day.

What we did enjoy together was a visit with Santiago at EPM and with Agostinho & Patricia at Promotora.

How did you day go and what did you learn for your experience this day?

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27 Responses to “Medellín, Day 8”

  1. Karen Madera Says:

    Our company ended up cancelling our meeting that morning, so we joined the group in time for the EPM tour. The building was very modern and open layout. Santiago walked us through some of the innovation and social responsibility projects that the utilities company initiated. After the planned tour, went to the mall around the corner from the hotel. It was very large and seemed like a big destination for the locals and tourists alike. Also learned that Bancolombia for some reason doesn’t work with Wells Fargo cards and the international line for Wells Fargo does not work in Colombia. Though, they were highly accessible via email. Good notes for future travel!

  2. Brittany Rogers Says:

    EPM is a really unique mixture of for-profit/non-profit/government entity. The most interesting part of the visit was hearing about some of their more innovative and unique projects like utilizing old pay phones for people to pay their electricity bill daily vs. monthly, which solved non-payment and expanded their profitable market size. Also, the solar kits in undeveloped or unaccessible area was a neat experiment that I could see having a worldwide impact

  3. Tyler Hjalmquist Says:

    We finally got to rest a little bit today. Later on in the day, we were able to attend two presentations (one from EPM and one from a venture capital firm in Colombia). I really enjoyed Santiago’s presentation and hearing about his passion for engineering and some of the projects that EPM was currently working on. I was surprised to see that 80% of the power they generate is hydro-electric. On the other hand, VC is a foreign language to me and most of the stuff that Agosthino and Patricia talked about went in one ear and out the other.
    We went to dinner with the guy from our start-up company (Demand Frontier). He claimed that the restaurant we went to, El Correo Carne Y Vino, had the best steak in Colombia, and he definitely did not disappoint. Juan Salazar (from Demand Frontier) recently moved his family from Austin to Medellin to start this company. Juan is originally from Medellin but left during the violent years of Pablo Escobar. My biggest takeaway from today was the fact that despite being forced to move away from his home, Juan was extremely proud of his home country. He insisted that Colombia is an exciting and vibrant place to do business, and that its biggest problem is its reputation for violence (rather than having existing violence and crime). Although, I might have some reservations about an ex-pat assignment in Bogota, I don’t think I would mind moving down to Medellin for a few years (that is after I learn a little more Spanish).

  4. Destin Whitehurst Says:

    Venture Capital in an emerging economy looks and feels much different from that in our booming Austin scene. The challenges they face range from finding decently lucrative opportunities to educating potential investors, and everything in between. With this, though, the team at Promotora demonstrates the drive that is inherent to Medellin, and the flexibility to take a chance, knowing that Plan B might be just around the corner. EPM clearly is in a much more established position, but I imagine they too faced similar challenges earlier in their history.

  5. hannahsierra2016 Says:

    I enjoyed learning about EPM’s business. I found it interesting that 30% of their water is stollen via illegal pumping. I enjoyed his quick ability to roll out a white board mid-presentation and sketch what it takes to steal water. 30% is such a high percentage and to think that the government subsidizes this loss for them? Wow! I liked his top of mind comparison to mitigate water loss by googling Germany Pipes to show us what they could do different. Later this evening, my small group met with our company, Demand Frontier, for dinner. We were promised the best steak in Colombia and were delivered nothing short of that! I ordered medallions and received two 8 oz filets. Juan Salazar, from Demand Frontier, treated our entire group and opened up about his life in Colombia. Wonderful day.

  6. Laura Szymanski Says:

    Having worked in a village, Pueblo Modelo, in Guatemala, I understand the value electricity can bring to a village. Pueblo Modelo has had an operational well for five years now; however, the villagers live without clean water because the government will not supply electricity to run the pump. It is a one time investment of ~$50,000 USD to build a well in a remote village in Central America. This money is useless if the village has no electricity source to maintain the operation of that pump. Understanding these dynamics is why I am so impressed by EPM’s solar kits and the value they can bring to an otherwise remote region separate from existing power grids. Knowing EPM is thinking about individuals outside of their current customer base, leveraging their technology portfolio to reach those individuals, better improving their lives is convicting to me. What a use of resources and technology to truly better lives!

  7. Ashley C Tisdale Says:

    With the free time we had in the morning, I explored Medellin with Mike as he missed out on our activities the day before. We started the day by taking the gondolas back into the mountains where Mike spoke to the passengers that shared the ride with us. On the ride, an elderly woman, Maria, invited us to her house in Santo Domingo and we decided to go. On our way there, we walked by two huge dogs that were unchained and continuously barked at us so we walked by them very quickly. At the woman’s house, she provided us with a traditional breakfast of a bread roll with scrambled eggs and cheese and hot chocolate. After we left Maria’s house, we tried to see the library but it was under construction so we decided to go to Botero square where we took pictures and bought hats. There were souvenir stores nearby so that was our last stop before we took the Metro back to the hotel. I was very impressed by the Metro system and for a brief moment, I felt like I was back in New York.
    At the EPM visit, I was amazed by how much water was stolen from the company. I thought it was great that Colombia utilizes hydro-electric power and I enjoyed Santiago’s enthusiasm. The presentation reminded me of when I worked at GE Energy when Santiago discussed the different sources of power. Promotora’s presentation was informative about how a small team is working to make a big impact within Colombia.

  8. Curtis Davis Says:

    Day 8 was several weeks in the making as we would finally meet the staff from LAP technologies, for whom we had been completing a market analysis for the United States and Canada. We were very impressed by the Ruta N building and the modern environment it provides for its resident companies. After giving our presentation, we had lunch outside where we were able to discuss current affairs in Medellin and the United States.

    The presentation in the afternoon from EPM was very enlightening. EPM does not operate like a typical utility company and it was inspiring to hear about all the projects and initiatives they have under development.

  9. Jessica Jozwiak Says:

    Bryan, Paolo, and I spent most of our day visiting with our project company partner, Tronox. Oscar and Luis welcomed us with open arms and we toured their battery factory, which was mechanized and automated relative to others we had visited. We then worked through our model for their forklift business, and had a nice lunch to learn more about their backgrounds and shared stories. Their English was impressive, and I laughed when I learned that they both picked it up from watching TV and movies.

  10. David H Chung Says:

    I had the first relaxation morning of the trip. Staying at the hotel during the morning, our group discussed about the meeting with our client for tomorrow. Visiting EPM was the most insightful moment of the trip for me. I couldn’t have thought about the public company with actual motivation for profitability. Typical Korean public companies depend heavily on government tax and not very eager to open their books transparently. To me, it was surprising to see public companies that actually allocate municipal government budget out of their profit! I also enjoyed the building structures that symbolizes Medellin’s creative culture, and really nice work environment of the office. Also, hearing the experiences from Portuguese and Colombian co-founders of a venture capital company, who also had MBA degrees, we could see how the city is enticing international entrepreneurs.

  11. carlisland Says:

    Today we presented to our company, Choucair Testing. We had all been anxious about how our presentation would go the night before. But once we met with our client our nerves were put at ease and our meeting took a much more casual tone.

    While presenting to our client, we discussed what we had seen in Colombia to date and they gave us recommendations on what to do next. Additionally, it was interesting to see the technology industry in Medellin and compare it to the US. Through our project it became apparent that Medellin is a Hub for “near shoring” internet development work. While in the US a typical developer would make around 60-70k annually. In Colombia this number is closer to 15k.

    Looking around Route N, I saw multiple US companies who had set up offices to take advantage of this wage differential. While these jobs are bringing wealth to Medillin, They are only the first step in the city’s evolution as a center of technology. I hope the the current international interest in the city will lead to the R&D investments needed to bring it into the forefront of the innovation industry.

  12. Kyle Gabb Says:

    Today we met with our company Chocair Consulting. We began by talking about our experiences in Colombia and we could tell that the company representative, Juan, was happy we were enjoying our time in his country. He made recommendations on things to do for the rest of our time and showed us his favorite beaches on San Andres island. The rest of the presentation went well and he likes our recommendations. His company had made some of the same conclusions and was happy that an independent group of MBAs validated his viewpoints.

    After our meeting we met up with the rest of the group and listed to a presitation on EPM, the local Medellin utility company. As the energy industry is my career focus, I found this to be my favorite presentation. The company is doing a lot to provide affordable electricity to the city and rural areas around the country. I was blown away by the stat that they generate 80% of their electricity from hydropower – a commendable feat indeed. Once I thought about it that made sense as they have the resources: mountainous terrain, lots of rain fall, and rivers.

    Later that day I met up with a college friend who has been living and working in Medellin for almost a year. He loves the city, but gave me a different perspective as an American who moved there recently. We had some pizza and beer and caught up.

  13. Bryan Benson Says:

    We had a great meeting with our company, Tronex. Both Oscar and Luis Gabriel were gracious hosts and I was immensely impressed with their English. We took a tour of the battery factory and I finally know why batteries have a little node on the end (it’s a carbon rod that connects to the zinc magnesium… I won’t bore you with the details). When we got into conversation about our project, everyone was very engaged and you could feel the energy level spike in the room. After going well over our scheduled time, Oscar and Luis Gabriel insisted on taking us to lunch. We knew they had busy days, but they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I was overwhelmed with their hospitality and I know our group walked away from our meeting re-energized to deliver an excellent result on our project.

  14. Yeony Bae Says:

    My team had a meeting with Colombian partner, Panter, this day. It was not great start – we lost on the way to their office and ended up somewhat shady part of the town – but ended up with great experience. Angela and her team was very passionate in what they are doing, and we could have much better understanding in Colombian business environment and Panter’s business. We ended up inviting them over to Austin and encouraging them to participate next year’s SXSW. It was good, very productive meeting and my team was certain we can give some good suggestions for their business after the meeting.

  15. Ivo Fink Says:

    I really enjoyed all aspects of our visit at Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), a local public utilities service company. Founded in 1955 and owned by the city of Medellín, the companies’ business activities nowadays span across several countries in Latin America and are divided into 12 different subunits. What I found particularly interesting about EPM apart from its sheer size is its unique set up as a for-profit government entity with a dual mandate. On the one hand, EPM is supposed to maximize profits in order to provide enough funds in support of the municipality’s annual budget whereas on the other hand the company is advised to carry out social welfare oriented projects by itself and is provided with lots of leeway to pursue an inherently long-term oriented approach in terms of big infrastructure projects. Moreover, I was quite astonished when Santiago told us about EPM’s innovation-driven approach when it comes to the detection of water and electricity fraud by use of big data as well as other secretive ventures the company is engaged in.

  16. Kent Kronenberg Says:

    I was extremely impressed with Santiago from EPM and how innovative the company is and will continue to be. EPM clearly has been a huge driver of the innovation in Medellin. The merger of public and private is very hard to imagine in the U.S., though we did have similar ventures in the past (Tennessee Valley Authority). This very much reinforced what I saw again and again: that business plays a front-and-center role in helping society grow. This business-as-a-public-service (BAAPS!) aspect clearly has played a major role in the development of Colombia over the past 15 years. While of course profits are central to business, I couldn’t help but think and feel that corporate responsibility had a more serious role in corporate strategy than in most U.S. corporations.

    Also, the talk and awesome drawings about how water is stolen from pipes was super cool!

  17. Ibk Ol Says:

    Speaking of being flexible, our company canceled our meeting for the day so we were able to go with the group on the tour. The EPM and VC presentation were great and incredibly informative. I especially enjoyed the EPM one. It was great to see the research my team did before hand on the company before our trip in person. I remember leaving and thinking I would work here. It was great as well to get to learn about the burgeoning VC industry in Colombia and Latin America in general, especially considering that IPOs tend to not be the goal.

  18. Kavita Rangaswamy Says:

    Codiscos cancelled our introductory meeting for the morning, so our group had some time to work on the presentation. We met up with the group at EPM, where we heard employees of EPM and of Promotora speak about their experiences. I really enjoyed getting a tour of EPM and hearing about their various initiatives, outside of being a utility company. It was interesting that the company has 30% of its water stolen from them; this loss is then subsidized by the Colombian government. The VC employees spoke about some of the struggles that they had recently faced around expanding their company and I appreciated that they were transparent about this.

  19. Adriana Penalba Says:

    We weren’t able to meet with our client today, so we had a group meeting to prepare for our meeting on Tuesday. EPM was really enjoyable. The building was really nice, and Santiago did a great job of presenting to us and helping us understand the services that EPM provides in Colombia and energy is different there from the United States. Agustinho and Patricia were really interesting to talk to, especially when they were talking about the differences between VC in Colombia or emerging markets in the United States and just hearing about how much they’ve learned from doing this work the past few years.

  20. Victor Okocha Says:

    Anna, Curtis, and I met with our group today to present our project. This project made this class one of my favorites at McCombs because we spent time working on a project that would actually be used by a company. Our meeting lasted a couple hours and the team seemed to be pleased with the information that we had provided. We finished our meeting over lunch where we got to know about our Colombian team members on a more personal level. After the meeting we moved to the EMP where I learned a ton about the energy company. I thought it was interesting that a huge portion of their renewable energy portfolio is hydro power. I also thought it was interesting hearing about how much water and electricity is stolen from the company’s pipes and wires each year.

  21. Krista Fischer Says:

    This was a relaxing morning followed by a trip to EPM. I really enjoyed my side conversation with Santiago regarding the workspace and their social responsibility projects. When you think of utilities companies, you do not usually associate the word progressive. Not as progressive was his story about delivering solar panels using mules in some parts of Colombia. I STILL want to see a photo of that delivery.

    My group was promised the best steak in Medellin by our project company’s lead, Juan Salazar. It did not disappoint although I believe I enjoyed the grilled vegetables almost as much as the steak. He recently moved his family back to Colombia from Austin to head up the Medellin office for Demand Frontier. He left Colombia during the violent years to create a different life for himself. He was very honest about how different his life could have turned out had he stayed. Juan is really passionate about the potential of Medellin and the opportunity for the country.

  22. David F. Says:

    The trip to EPM was interesting. I would not have a public utilities company as top 5 on my places to visit in a new city. However Santiago, who is in charge of innovation at EPM, showed real passion and devotion to his job. He seemed genuinely excited and proud of the work that EPM had done with the city. It was during this day of the trip that it began to sink in to my head that the citizens of Colombia and Medellin really care about the betterment of their country and home. Furthermore, Agostinho and Patricia from Promotora gave a nice change of pace from the utilities presentation and I learned a lot about the venture capital environment of Colombia.

  23. Elizabeth Sickler Says:

    My group and I met with our company representative. He wasn’t there when we first arrived and were a little confused about whether we had the wrong time or was this “Colombian time”. When he finally arrived we learned that he was running between company-wide meetings at his other office location. It made me feel very honored that he would take time from his meetings to meet us in person. He was so excited to hear about our findings. Although there was a little language barrier, I could easily tell how much he appreciated our work. At the end of the meeting, he was willing to sit with us while we ate lunch to continue our discussions. By the time I got home there was already a LinkedIn request from him. It was such a great experience to see that our work was in-line with the company’s strategic plan.

  24. stephanielmoten Says:

    Despite the stereotypes of Latin American cultures, I found Colombia to be fairly schedule oriented up until this point. My point of view, though, is shaped by my experience visiting the country with 30 students. Our trip was well organized and we stuck to a tight schedule. All of our tour guides and the businesses with which we met were punctual and able to accommodate last minute changes. For example, when one of our flights got cancelled we missed a full day of activities but our guides were able to rearrange the schedule to accommodate everything we had planned for two days into one day so that we wouldn’t miss out. However, when looking outside of our scheduled trip and analyzing this culture by observing restaurants and shops, I found traces of a flow oriented culture. For example, it took quite a while to get service at some of the restaurants. In Colombia waiters are paid a salary therefore there is less of a sense of urgency in serving customers. When we had our meeting with our company on this day, our contact arrived about a half an hour late and had not left any instructions for how to get to his office. When we got to RutaN we weren’t able to get past the security desk and we had no way of reaching him. We were lucky that we recognized him as he walked in so that we could flag him down.

  25. Anna Knyazhitskaya Says:

    Meeting the LAP Technologies – our consulting project firm – team in Ruta N was the clear highlight of the day. It was nice to feel like I was part of the innovations ecosystem in Medellin, a city that prides itself on innovation and entrepreneurship. The team was very enthusiastic about our presentation and highly involved in the analysis. Over lunch, they told us about their experience in telecommunications and how they ended up at a start-up in Colombia.

  26. mikeramirezblog Says:

    My teams meeting wasn’t set for this day so I used the morning to go see the plaza de Botero and wow it was nice. Well to be fair the morning started off with a taxi and eventually a train ride. I wanted to really take the local transpiration and become a member of the city so I did. After that we went to Santa Domingo which is located on top of the city and is known as a strata 1 area. On the way up I met Maria – she had lived in Medellin forever and was around 75 or so years old. She actually ended up inviting Ashley and I to her home for breakfast. At first I was a bit skeptical but I figured how else would I get a first hand glimpse and one on one tour of someone’s home. So we went deep into a very sketch area with her. She invited us in and upstairs. She began to cook a traditional breakfast and went out to get a fresh loaf of bread from a vendor on the street. The food was good (eggs, ham, cheese, bread) and the drink she made was a smooth rich creamy hot chocolate with a kick of coffee. She shared stories about her life and how it has been living in Medelin then told us where the biblioteca is or the old library which offers great views of the city. We ended up at the library took our photos of the great view then headed back down the mountain. We also went to a shopping plaza which was really fun because I was able to negotiate prices. Reflecting on Maria – I really wanted to leave her some money but I knew that she was extremely happy to have us in her home so before we excused ourselves I gave her a big hug and thanked her about 10 times for being such a nice person. FUN fact my grandmother which is no longer with us was named Maria.

  27. Paolo Boero Says:

    Today we went to visit our company Tronex and ended up spending almost the entire day there. Luis and Oscar took us around the whole office, had a strategy session, went through their production factory, and then finally out to a late lunch. It was amazing to learn how important this project was to them, and I really enjoyed bouncing ideas off of them on how to run a profitable rental business. There are so many variables to take into account such as foreign exchange risk, and debt products that Tronex has only just begun to investigate. I was amazed on the difference between the manual process of the Totto factory vs the highly mechanized factory at Tronex. At lunch we discussed everything from politics, to friends and family. It was truly a great experience for all of us.

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