How Medellin Is on Track to Become Colombia’s Startup City

TLDR? Medellin has been making heavy investments into city improvements to make it a great place for startups.

San Francisco, London, Austin, Tallinn, and Helsinki might be way off in the distance but ambitious M

Medellin has its sights set on breaking into the world’s most exclusive club of startup cities.
In the world of startups, getting traction is crucial. And, Medellin has had some major success in attracting some big names to the city.

That’s just evidence that the hard work being put in by the local administration is starting to pay off.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Medellin is on the fast track to becoming Colombia’s startup city, this guide is for you. Let’s take a look at how this change is sweeping the city.

Making New Investments in Medellin

Making New Investments in Medellin

With former software developer, Daniel Quintero, at the helm as mayor, the city has been cranking up the dial to put the infrastructure in place. They’ve been focusing on developing the talent needed to make the city a hub for tech and AI startups.

He’s following on from some stellar work from previous administrations. Plus, he’s honing in on the tireless work done by the Investment and Cooperation Agency of Medellin (ACI).

This company is a part private and part public organization, whose role is to attract new companies to the city.

The city’s financial system is one big allure, the quality of life from the weather and attractive cost of living another. As is the Ruta N incubator program managed by ACI.

According to CrunchBase, Colombia grew faster than any other country in the world in terms of venture capital fundraising in 2019.

Much of that was due to the country’s first unicorn. What unicorn, you ask? We’re talking about the food delivery app called Rappi raising $1 billion. The Bogota-based super app is the pride of Colombia’s burgeoning startup culture.

It’s not just Rappi that’s taking the nation by storm. David Velez, the CEO of the region’s most successful startup, Nubank. Velez is from Medellin. Important active investors in Medellin include Kaszek Ventures and nonprofit venture fund Acumen.

What Makes Medellin the Perfect Place for Startups

What Makes Medellin the Perfect Place for Startups

Successful startups come out of a strong combination of ingredients:

  • Talented teams
  • A vision
  • Willingness to take risks

In the right environment, these ingredients can combine to create a winning combination. The result is a perfect catalyst for startups.

Interestingly enough, Medellin has several factors that make it the perfect melting pot for creating startups. Let’s take a look at what makes Medellin the next hotspot for startups.

Strategic Location

Medellin is connected to the US by direct flights to Miami (just a 3-hour flight), New York (a short 5-hour flight), Mexico City, Lima, and Sao Paulo. In addition, Medellin also offers direct flights to Spain. That makes it a location that’s highly connected to business hotspots around the globe.

Beautiful Weather

Although Medellin weather can be a bit hard to predict, it’s still much milder than many other places in the world. Plus, there are tons of green spaces around the city that drive productivity and creativity.

“The combination of pleasant, San Diego–caliber weather with intense greenery all around you, generates a year-round sense of wellbeing that drives creativity and productivity.”

Medellin Work Ethic

One part of what you need to build a successful startup, be that in the hardworking Laureles neighborhood or another part of Medellin, is a can-do mentality.

Paisas are notorious for their can-do mentality, which is part of what makes this such a successful place for startups.

World-Class Talent

Medellin has tons of engineers and developers. In fact, it may have more than any other place in all of Latin America!

What that means is that you’ll find plenty of up-and-coming tech-savvy professionals who are ready and waiting to help startups get off the ground.

Bang for your Buck

Medellin provides you with great geographical access and beautiful weather without the price tag. In Medellin, it costs much less to start your own business or be a digital nomad than it does in other countries around the world.

Medellin: A City Destined for Greatness

Medellin: A City Destined for Greatness

The combination of these five magical ingredients plus the forward-thinking attitude in city hall all convinced Andrew Ng to set up his Latin American HQ for AI fund in Medellin to nurture a burgeoning AI ecosystem.

The decision could have a profound impact on the city’s fortunes as the AI Fund startup studio builds new AI companies from scratch. The studio has already raised $175 million to accelerate these types of startups.

In Colombia, the company is piloting an AI education initiative to develop and connect that talent with international companies. It’s also training its first cohort of engineers, after choosing from over 400 regional applicants.

AI Fund’s Colombia office also includes team members of four early-stage AI startups exploring sectors ranging from healthcare to education to customer support.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the city’s co-working spaces were brimming with overseas talent seeking to set up shop in Medellin for all of the reasons showcased by Sánchez-Ríos. 

As remote working becomes an even more permanent fixture in the new normal, digital nomad workshops and off-sites are set to soar post-pandemic. 

Welcome to Medellin, Colombia’s New Startup City

Medellin has been chomping at the bit during the pandemic to get back on with the business of attracting new investors and is now ready to leverage its natural charms and human capital to catapult itself higher up the league table of startup cities. 

Maybe the next silicon valley will be a little greener, more tropical than the first one.

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