How US tech companies can help Cuban entrepreneurs
Posted yesterday by Ryan Lawler (@ryanlawler)
As Cuba becomes more accessible, entrepreneurs there are finding new
ways to reach users and build businesses. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt
NY, we got the perspective of a trio of Cuban entrepreneurs to learn
about the challenges they face in building businesses as the country
gradually opens up to the outside world.
"I feel like Cuba has the key resource of the world. We have the human
resource," Kewelta founder Carlos Manuel García Vergara said on the
panel. "In Cuba we have very talented people but we have no internet so
we need to create offline."
Kewalta is building a social ad network in a place that has limited
connectivity. Instead of paying for ads, the idea is to get users to
create profiles where they share the things they are interested in.
The need for offline experiences has led to the creation of "El Paquete
Semanal" or just "el paquete," which is a way for Cubans to exchange the
latest information and content from the outside world. Some might
consider a way to spread "pirated" content by transferring gigabytes
worth of content through the exchange of hard drives. But without a
robust digital network, it's one reliable way for Cubans to know what's
happening beyond its borders.
Diana Elianne Benitez Perera founded Knales as a way to keep Cubans up
to date. Using a combination of email and SMS, Knales send users updates
on things like sports, weather and world news.
"We don't have internet," Perera said. "So we have to create first-world
conditions in a third-world country."
As they grow, the entrepreneurs on stage said they mainly just want
support from tech entrepreneurs in the U.S. and elsewhere. Perera, for
instance, said she's not looking for investors but mentorship from
founders and entrepreneurs who have successfully built businesses that
she can model her own after.
"I just want you to help me learn about this world," she said. "I want
to know what a startup is and what we need to do to get bigger."
Meanwhile Vergara is looking for more support from U.S.-based tech
companies as Cuba starts to come online.
"We need to talk to internet companies in the U.S. because when they see
we are accessing their networks from the Cuban IP address, they shut us
down," Vergara said. "We're talking to the government… but we need
support from the whole entrepreneur community."
Source: How US tech companies can help Cuban entrepreneurs | TechCrunch