Hi and welcome to An Entrepreneur Blog. My name is Andrés Julián Gómez and this is my second post, on the English version of this Blog. For this second entry, I wanted to tell my readers a little more about myself, my history, what I do for a living and about Entrepreneurship, one of the greatest passions I have.
I’ve lived all my life in Bogotá. I have never been outside of this city for more than 30 days at any given time, but in the future I will like to live a couple of years in another country and learn about other cultures. I was educated (from kindergarten through high school) in a school owned by an American woman. I started learning English as a second language when I was just 3 years old. This was an ongoing process, having most of my classes in English, until I graduated when I was 18. With this background in mind, I’ve always been very much in touch with the USA culture. For instance, in school I took maybe in a 2 o 3 years lapse, an American (USA) History course, which is not too usual in any Latin American Country. Plus since I was very young I’ve been watching a lot of US produced TV and movies (and later with Internet, even more US information). Although I love my country, I’m very fond of the US culture and way of living.
During my high school years, about when I was a 9th grader, I had my first contact with Internet. It was about 1997 or 1998 and very soon it was clear for me that Internet had a huge business potential. At that time, I had to dial up to the Internet Service Provider and within the first couple of months I had set up my first website at the now defunct Geocities. Soon after I created a video game website (as a teenager I was hooked on video games) and earn several bucks. A couple of checks got lost on the mail from the US to Colombia, but it was a nice first business adventure.
After I graduated from High School, I went to Study Systems and Computer Engineering (in a way, similar to Computer Science) at Universidad de los Andes, one of the best universities in Colombia. At the same time I did what’s called an option, which for what I understand is similar to a minor, in Business Administration. While I did this, I started a small website and later created my first big business project.
A few semesters later an uncle who owns several gas and service stations asked me to create a website for his business. This was about year 2001 or 2002, where the Internet Design and Software creation service was still very young and with few options, at least for Colombia. So I created his website and saw that small and medium sized companies needed a way of creating high quality websites at an affordable price. Based on this idea I created this first big business project, with the help of several people at the university. My first team was actually made up by fellow students who had my same age, that’s about 20 or 21 years old (we were all very young, but had big ideas and dreams).
Since we were studying at the time, the project took us some time to get it up and running. We had almost no money and it’s very difficult to get investors in Colombia, so that was the other problem. However and at the same time, we created a Business Plan, which was very successful. With it, we entered Colombia’s prime Business Plan Contest, called Ventures, and in 2005 we made it to the top 10. That year, over 550 Business ideas had been submitted to the contest, so it was a very interesting achievement. However money was still scare so one year before graduating I decided to leave the university for 12 months and tried to acquire this capital. I knocked many doors and it was impossible to find the money we need.
One year later I returned to the University to finish my studies. At the same time one family member gave me a small amount of money to get the business up and running; it was year 2005. Although the amount of money was far from what we were hoping for, at least we had the money to open a first small office and hire the first employees. Money ran out fast, so I started asking for small personal loans to local banks, which quickly became a big loan and not where I wanted to be.
Under these circumstances, I approached a very wealthy family member and asked for his helped. I tried this earlier, asking him to be an investor, but now I realize the money we were asking was too small for his interest (I’m not giving the exact figure, but it’s less than a million dollar – way less). In this second attempt, I asked him not to become a partner, but instead he could led me the money through one of his banks (he’s a banker by the way). This time he said yes. However, about 50% of the new debt went to pay the previous personal loans.
After almost three years of operating the business with these loans, the company had several problems, which I will detail in future articles. The fact is that the company had a large debt and I was physically and mentally exhausted. I don’t consider myself a quitter, but after analyzing the situation I realize this was the end of the company. One of my business partners took some of the assets, the clients and I started to look for a full time job.
Several months later I landed a job at one of Colombia’s largest banks. I was in charge of web related topics, and worked there for over a year and a half. Although this job brought me a steady income and peace of mind, it was a very frustrating position. This bank in particularly is very old fashion and conservative, so most of my ideas were rejected. I was hired as an analyst, but the truth is that my job was very operative and had a very small analysis component.
During this time, I stumbled upon a graduate course, called E-Commerce at Universidad de los Andes. Its name is a little deceptive, as it has to do with Internet and Technology, but the main emphasis is on Business Administration subjects, like Marketing, Business Plans, Organizational Change, Innovation and others. This degree gave me a complementary vision, which first led me to create the Spanish version of this Blog and then the creation of my consulting firm, Consultorías 360°. And also as a result of this, I decided to quit my job at the bank as I didn’t see much future over there.
I opened my Consulting firm in January 2010 and that is my day job. When I have time I write for my blogs and I also publish once a week an article, related to Internet, Technologies an Innovation, on Colombia’s premier Business News Paper, called La República. Here you can access the articles I’ve written or where I’ve been interviewed (they are all in Spanish).
So that’s basically my life so far. I’m also writing a book and offer lectures on different subjects, also related to Internet, Technologies, Innovation and more. I’ll be telling more of myself on the following articles, so I invite you to keep coming and sign up for the mailing list so you can get the latest information.
Update No. 1: Starting 2013, my sister María Fernanda Gómez, joined me in this Blog. She will be writing articles and in the future shooting video to help me with the Blog. I hope you enjoy her articles.
Update No. 2: For 2014, we decided that An Entrepreneur Blog should become the official Blog of our consulting firm, 360° Consulting. The Blog won’t have any changes, except from a design point of view and platform (we’re using WordPress), but the articles will keep the same. In fact with this change, you can expect more in-depth articles related to Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Internet, Technologies, Strategies and much more.