ProColombia developed the ProColombia Pitch Sessions with the goals of connecting Colombian entrepreneurs and companies with foreign investors, fostering entrepreneurship in the country, and creating new business opportunities for investment funds and international companies in Colombia. In addition to two sessions held in 2018 and 2019, four Pitch Sessions were held in 2020, for a total of six days dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in Industry 4.0, agriculture, and medical cannabis.
ProColombia is preparing the first Reverse Pitch Session, scheduled to take place online this Thursday, September 17. Instead of making sales pitches, entrepreneurs will listen to three venture capitalists from Canada and the United States present their programs for investing in Colombian startups.
"We have designed this event so that our Colombian entrepreneurs can strengthen their sales strategies and learn about the operational experience, investment focus, and value propositions of investors at three investment funds from the United States and Canada. These investors have prior experience investing in Colombian projects, contributing to their growth and internationalization," stated Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia.
Ricardo Sangion, VP of America’s Growth Accelerator at TheVentureCity and one of the event’s headliners, recognizes that there is prior knowledge regarding Colombian entrepreneurs and an opportunity for growth with the Miami fund’s businesses.
"TheVentureCity sees Miami as the innovation hub connecting the United States, Latin America, and Europe. For Colombia, this is nothing new. The country has been building cultural and commercial bridges for many years, now with increasingly innovative and ambitious startups. Colombian projects in our portfolio—such as 1DOC3, Tusdatos.co, Cajero, and Hogaru—provide some examples of the level of ambition and execution," says Sangion.
Juan Camilo González, business director of Trinity Capital International in Canada, stated, "The maturity and quality of the Colombian startup ecosystem is sufficient reason for us, as investors, to want to participate in this type of meeting with entrepreneurs, in order to build an even stronger ecosystem together. An entrepreneur’s success affects the investors’ success. That is the basis of a strong startup ecosystem, which is why our objective is always to encourage entrepreneurship. This doesn’t stop at writing a check; sometimes sharing advice or a recommendation is much more valuable. This first Reverse Pitch Session organized by ProColombia provides that opportunity.”
VelocityTX, another participant, is interested in strengthening the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the United States and Latin America.
David Fonseca, VelocityTX‘s VP of global development, explained, "VelocityTX is committed to positioning San Antonio as a leading ecosystem for bioscience innovation. BioGlobal Accelerator was designed together with community leaders in order to close the gap between cutting-edge biological innovations and the support and infrastructure required to scale them up. Through our coaching for entrepreneurs in residence, a rich and applied curriculum, and solid support networks, we will scale up high-potential companies in the medical device, biotechnology, and healthcare IT sectors in the United States and Latin America."
Colombians have an entrepreneurial spirit, as revealed in the report published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which ranked Colombia seventh worldwide as an origin country for entrepreneurs (5.82%). Within Latin America, Colombia ranks second after Chile in the potential entrepreneur rate (57.5%) and entrepreneurial intentions rate (50.2%). However, one of the main difficulties faced by entrepreneurs in Colombia is effectively finding investors willing to bet on their project. An associated challenge is knowing how to sell their idea to attract financing.
According to the 2019 GEM report, Colombia had the highest proportion of entrepreneurs motivated by the opportunity to have their own company. Colombian entrepreneurs largely have a bachelor’s level education (90.6%), in addition to technical degrees (87.3%). Nevertheless, 26.1% of Colombian entrepreneurs venture by necessity and have only a primary school education.
Given that Colombia’s entrepreneurship rate is increasing, the national government has set up institutions such as iNNpulsa and ProColombia to bolster the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.