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Inspiring South American entrepreneurship

The early 1990s digital revolution was swelling in the Silicon Valley, but Alan Colmenares ’85 was not satisfied. The electrical engineering graduate was working at a variety of successful technology startups for five years before he realized his dream. Colmenares moved back to his roots in South America with the hope of advancing digital innovation throughout Latin America.

Today he has become a vital leader in the South American start-up environment.

Colmenares is currently an award-winning director at The Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-idea startup incubator, and Ventures Director at Socialatom Ventures, which accepts startups from countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and many others. He also invested in some of the accelerated companies. Colmenares supported Latin American ventures for Compaq Computer, Intel, Oracle, SAS Institute, and other small technology startups.

He was named the Best International Director of 2012 of the Founder Institute Colombia chapter for rapidly positioning the Founder Institute within Columbia running chapters in Bogota and Medellin. As Director, Colmenares selects and supports program directors in each Colombian city and helps them execute successful programs throughout the country. Additionally, he assists government and private sponsors to achieve objectives of building a startup ecosystem.

"Colombia has a unique opportunity to attract new businesses that leverage digital tools to create high-impact business for the country and the region," Colmenares explains. "In addition to the mentoring of Socialatom Ventures Apps.co within the program, we will be connecting entrepreneurs with investors and companies like Google, Salesforce, Evernote and Xactly so they can observe and learn from them."

On Feb. 14 Colmenares was one of 20 entrepreneurs selected to travel to Silicon Valley, the crux of entrepreneurship and innovation, to meet with representatives of Google, Facebook, and other technology Valley giants.

"It's like a basketball team in Colombia given the chance to go and see how the practice Los Angeles Lakers, a professional team in the United States, and to talk to them to see how they train," he said.

The goal is to return to Colombia with new ideas to accelerate growth and validate their business models, he said.

On top of Colmenares’ business venture success, he writes for a number of media channels to spread digital innovation past the Colombia domain, including the New York Times' "VentureBeat” section and his own blog, "TropicalGringo." He writes about Latin American start-ups with the hope of inspiring entrepreneurs and spreading the word about digital innovation.

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