GENERATION CONTENT

Colombia 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jaime Menor Escavias de Carvajal, CEO & Founder of MyLocal Worldwide, on Colombia as a solid base for a technology company and the opportunities in Latin America.

The Colombian government is transforming the country into a digitalized nation and boosting the mass usage of ICT. Could you evaluate the role this economic engine is playing?

This is the fastest route for Colombia to keep growing and opening doors to investors keen on the opportunities available in an emerging market. Thanks to government strategy, investments, and innovation in its systems, cities and education programs have demonstrated to other nations the potential and stability this country offers. Medellín was recently named the Most Innovative City in the world as the Wall Street Journal identified Colombia as a target for significant investor groups from the US and other countries interested in the output of its digital business entrepreneurs.

How important is your sector in contributing toward the reduction of unemployment and poverty, and what role do you believe it could have in a potential post-conflict scenario?

In Colombia, more than 80% of new businesses disappear during the first five years and an average of 90% will not survive more than 10 years. This data clearly highlights a weakness in business management. Many businesses simply do not comprehend how to get business through the door, which is precisely where we come in by offering products to help local businesses grow, while also fortifying our users' marketing efforts. We do this though events, courses, and content exclusive to all MyLocal users. We don't want to just sell, but we also want to guide and help sustain local businesses.

You founded MyLocal in Spain in December of 2013, after a successful career in leading technology, media, and consumer companies such as Fox Mobile, Panda Security, Orange, Ericsson, and SproutLoud Media Networks. What success has MyLocal had in Spain and how did your previous experience prepare you to launch this company?

Every company has taught me something about internet usage and behavior. I've experienced the growth and decay of online business models such as mobile subscriptions, where abruptly a government may shut down an entire country's operations. On the other hand, I have thoroughly studied the power of local marketing and how it helps businesses to grow, thereby contributing to the broader local market. The combination of good and bad practices along with massive data from many countries has allowed me to design a service that fits the objectives of all local businesses. Spain's situation has been a perfect start for MyLocal since there was a challenge with variables such as a difficult market, a tight economy, and extremely low confidence reflected in all businesses and professional services buffeted by the global economic crisis. Our product was well received by local business owners. Factors such as pricing, results, and the importance of a technology innovative solution helped local businesses improve the sales and services provided to their clients.

“Every company has taught me something about internet usage and behavior."

In which of your markets do you foresee the greatest potential, the US, Latin America, or Europe?

The answer is definitely Latin America, where I strongly believe MyLocal will, in a tangible way, help thousands of local business owners, managers, and professionals not only obtain results, but also develop their skills and knowledge of local marketing.

MyLocal selected Medellín as the address of its first office in Latin America. What was the thinking behind this?

Medellín is a great example in the arena of innovation and transformation. This city is not only beautiful, but also has the right attitude. Every candidate who applied to any of our job openings showed a great attitude in terms of personal growth, and a love for and commitment to their city and country. I love working with Colombians and every member of our company proves on a daily basis how important it is for them to make things work since they understand how this will positively affect their families, city, and country in terms of growth and prosperity.

Could you briefly describe the Colombian market?

The Colombian market is complex but extremely open to new products, with companies willing to offer services that are results-oriented and in an attractive price range. This is why MyLocal clients are extremely satisfied and loyal to the brand. Our online service offers a tangible value that is focused on results and a long-term relationship accompanied by a range of exclusive and additional material to develop local business owners' and manager's skills in local marketing. The idea is that they are equipped to continue developing their business once our service has been fulfilled.

Looking ahead, could you describe the range of MyLocal services that you expect to generate the most demand?

We focus mainly on one goal with our clients, which is to expose their business in as many digital environments as possible to increase the opportunity of attracting new customers out of the thousands of customers that perform searches related to their geographic location. Around this goal arise additional needs that increase value for our users and alignment with our goal. Anything related to local marketing can turn into a product of value for local businesses. This involves the use of local advertising, radio, and newspapers with tracking technology and realistic pricing for our smaller clients. I think services such as content generation for social media along with reputation management for business reviews have the capacity to generate huge demand and advances within our innovation and design/R&D division.

How many people do you employ worldwide and how do you invest in human talent?

We currently have over 75 employees worldwide, but monthly growth is at roughly 10%. Talent is the most important consideration for us, right after our clients' needs. We sponsor health programs for our employees and provide free time during the week for people to develop themselves, or work on personal projects.

© The Business Year - July 2014