Blockchain to improve the income of coffee growers, an “aribnb” to hire live music and artificial intelligence to measure emotions were three of the entrepreneurial bets that had a space in Los Angeles, California.
This week, between October 22 and 24, the global meeting of the mobile industry was held: the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Los Angeles, United States, organized by the global association of companies in this industry, the GSMA.
It was three days when about 22,000 attendees from more than 100 countries gathered to talk about the mobile future around a concept: smart connectivity, composed of fifth-generation communications, artificial intelligence, internet of things and big data.
The space within the event called 4 Years From Now, which Stephanie Lynch-Habib, director of marketing at GSMA, describes as the place to go hunting the “unicorns” (ventures worth US $ 1 billion or more) that will arise in the Next four years, brought together 133 startups. Among them we find three outstanding Colombian cases.
The Alibaba of coffee: blockchain for transparent trade
Just 5% of the value of a cup of coffee reaches the grain producer. Eager to change that reality, and taking advantage of the potential that exists in the marriage of technology with agriculture, Laura Amado, together with Federico Miatton, founded a startup to make more fair and transparent trade between coffee growers and roasters.
He named the one of the fierce Fantine, a character of Victor Hugo in Los Miserables, not only to highlight the presence of women in entrepreneurship but to pay homage to the female workforce in coffee, mainly the most vulnerable of the chain: the collectors.
“We seek to provide traceability through blockchain technology, which allows intermediaries to be reduced, as well as price transparency: the buyer knows how much the producer is paying”, Amado explains for whom coffee went from being a hobby, in the times in which I worked in marketing for a multinational, to a true commitment.
The young entrepreneur describes it as “the Alibaba of Colombian coffee”: the producers – who can sell as independent or through associations or cooperatives – register on a platform, in which they give key information about their cultivation and benefit process, to which can then be seen by potential buyers.
Today they work with about 2,000 coffee growers from regions such as Cauca, Nariño, the Coffee Axis, Tolima and Santander, on the one hand, and with more than 20 roasters from Europe. Fantine monetizes charging a commission to the buyer, who, through blockchain, can be certain that the coffee he bought is the same one he received and that the producer is being paid.
Amado and Miatton say they have had to be flexible in payment options, because many producers are not even banked. To grow their business, they are about to launch a crowdfunding strategy and looking for investors, for which their next scenario, the Mobile World Congress of Barcelona, will be a weight platform.
Taking advantage of the variety and potential of Colombia as a producer of specialty coffees is one of the objectives of this company, but also to give options for a fairer and more valuable trade in the midst of the biggest crisis in grain prices that has been seen in the last years. For being a startup with a purpose, it was recognized this year with the Founder Institute award.
The Airbnb of live music
About three years ago, Sebastián Larrañaga left his job as an economist in an NGO to perfect an idea that solved a need in the market: today it is a platform that connects artists and people who are looking for live music, with the promise to give guarantees and clear rules of the game to both parties.
It’s called Tutoque.co, which he describes as “the Airbnb of live music.” Currently, they have about 600 artists on the platform and 80% of sales are to companies such as shopping centers, casinos or clubs, which need this type of services for their events. At this time, for example, the end of the year holiday season is coming.
Tutoque.co allows you to see the profiles of the artists, pay by card, “the musician arrives and we give guarantees to both parties,” explains Larrañaga. “You can also ask for a direct quote from the artists”, and, thinking of the corporate market, “through a single supplier, which is us, you can hire several artists a month on the same bill, which makes things easier”.
Its goal is to close this year with sales of $ 200 million and work in 2020 to improve the development of an automated platform so that, above all, corporate clients can access all online services. At this time, in addition to music, they offer dance contracting, stand up comedy, among others.
Larrañaga, whose monetization venture charging a fixed commission to the artist, started with its own savings and has received the support of investors and institutions such as Idartes and Apps.co, from the government, in the ICT business growth and consolidation program. Today its activities are concentrated in Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, but the objective is “to be the marketplace for performing arts in Latin America”.
An objective measurement of emotions
Feelenials, the fifth venture of Pilar Rattan.
Pilar Rattan has experience working in compliance, legal and ethical advice, but he really is entrepreneurship. “By combining that experience and knowledge, we decided to look for an objective way to measure emotions,” he says, referring to Feelenials, his fifth venture, which he formed together with two other partners.
It is a solution that relies on artificial intelligence to monitor the mood of a person or a group in real time. It can be applied, for example, to selection processes in which interviews or formats can be very costly or costly for organizations.
The raw material of the software – which is voluntarily installed in a person’s equipment – are facial expressions, words or texts, which are then analyzed with artificial intelligence that tries to understand each person’s personality. Just as there are economic variables, talent retention, among others, emotions can be “one more metric for decision making,” says the co-founder.
The algorithm feeds on “samples” that it captures at certain times, that is, “it does not record conversations, it is not invasive,” explains Rattan. So far they have trained him to detect four emotions, while the learning of the system is improving and complexing.
The project started a year and a half ago, has had Rattan’s own investment and was finally launched in 2019 at the Women Economic Forum. The entrepreneur says that so far they have developed dashboards for some clients and will do pilot tests with US companies, adapting the product to the regulations of this country. Next year they will also be at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.