Colombia Summer 2012 Blog

Universidad Icesi
June 18, 2012 to July 28, 2012

30 new entrepreneurs in Cali and lots of great ideas in the lluvia de ideas

Jennifer Jordan

June 25, 2012

Welcome to Universidad ICESI in Cali, Colombia for the first MIT AITI program in Latin America.  The program has brought together thirty outstanding entrepreneurs and technologists from Universidad ICESI, Universidad del Valle, and Universidad Libre.

From the first moment, we've begun preparing the entrepreneurs to launch real businesses and to present to potential customers and investors.  Icebreakers required everyone to stand up in front of the class and introduce a colleague. While case studies on ideation, including a lively discussion of how we would have brought electricity to market, helped us work through what is necessary to include in a business plan and investor pitch.  

On the tech side with Miguel and Ivan, the students have kept pace through the java lectures and labs, and once they began to work in teams interesting things started to happen.  The entrepreneurs began sharing more efficient and elegant solutions with their peers--and they didn't want to leave the lab. They kept on going until we had to lock the doors at night.  

By Friday, the students were fully engaged in a lengthy "lluvia de ideas", or brainstorm, on needs they see in the market that could be met with a mobile app.  The ideas ranged across multiple sectors including consumer, enterprise, social, transportation, heath, education, sports, entertainment, government and even religion.  We are fortunate that some of the entrepreneurs already have experience as founders and will be able to share their experience with their peers. 

This coming week we will be pitching those ideas, forming teams and starting work on customer validation.  On Thursday afternoon, Carlos Sierra, an MIT Sloan Fellow and Colombian mobile entrepreneur will talk to us via Skype or WebEx on his experience in the mobile market, securing his first customers, working with mobile carriers and the trends he sees in the market.  In the tech lab, Android development begins.  

Check back soon and we'll keep you posted on the progress. 


Thoroughly Impressed with Skill Level of Cali Entreprenuers

Miguel Amaya

June 25, 2012

Upon arrival in Cali, Colombia we had no idea what to expect from the entrepreneurs in the AITI program from a technical standpoint.  After an initial technical evaluation and subsequent lab sessions it became clear that this is a group of bright, talented and motivated individuals.  While most of the entrepreneurs are still undergrads, a good number of them have already graduated and have professional work experience.  Furthermore, some have even started their own businesses in the mobile technology realm.

The first week of the program was a Java "bootcamp" in which we reviewed some of the most important topics in software development.  The pace may have been a little slow for some of the more experienced programmers, but nonetheless we wanted to make sure everyone was on the same level before digging deeply into the Android framework.  Initially the entrepreneurs were working on their lab sessions individually, but we took several steps to encourage collaboration.  For one, we reconfigured the seating arrangement in the laboratory from a lecture-style seating to group seating around tables.  We also told them that they should discuss the project at hand with their group and design the solution on paper before they started coding.  This lead to increased dialogue and various discussions.  The entrepreneurs are now working effectively within their groups and we are very happy with the results.

This week we begin the Android curriculum.  The entrepreneurs are eager to start this next phase of the program.  We see unlimited potential in this group and are excited to see which ideas they propose for their final projects.

First MIT AITI in Latin America

Vladimir Ramirez

June 21, 2012


This is an exciting time.  For the first time ever, MIT AITI will come to Latin America.  We chose to partner with Universidad Icesi in Cali, Colombia; a city of 2.3 million people known for its creative talent and large student population in more than 8 Universities and many more higher education institutions.  
Icesi is the top private university in the region, but more than 20% of its students are on scholarship; thus, it shares MIT's vision of providing the best education to the most qualified. 

This is definitely a first for Cali, MIT, AITI, Icesi, Colombia and our financial sponsor Google.  
We are going to invest in 30 highly selected young entrepreneurs by working with them during 6 weeks to help them develop and improve their mobile programming and their entrepreneurship skills.  AITI is not a course or seminar; it is an MIT entrepreneurship laboratory aimed at changing mental frameworks and empowering 30 young minds with the confidence required to build technology companies and reinforce the technological ecosystem in Cali and Colombia.  In order to do this, we have 4 MIT instructors providing hands-on training and mentoring; these mentors come from the world renown MIT course 6 (the best Computer Science program in the world) and from MIT's long tradition of Entrepreneurship programs. 

In the end, we expect the selected few candidates to deliver a marketable mobile application that they can monetize.  More importantly, we expect them to share all their newfound knowledge, skills and confidence with their friends, family, classmates and citizens.  It is through the sharing of ideas and knowledge that societies become better.  We expect these "Caleños" entrepreneurs to realize that one successful entrepreneur makes it easier for another one to succeed.  Technology as life is an ecosystem of symbiotic relationships.  





June 21st, 2010

Vladimir Ramirez

June 21, 2012

We are off to a good start.  The first edition of MIT AITI in South America attracted entrepreneurs from Universidad del Valle, Universidad Libre, Universidad San Buenaventura, Universidad Santiago de Cali, Universidad Javeriana and of course our local partner in Cali, Universidad ICESI.

We are also already getting the attention of the media.  On the first day of the program, Jennifer Jordan, our Entrepreneurship Lead, was interviewed by La W national radio station.  You can listen to her interview by going to the following link:   Laboratorio de Emprendimiento .


June 19th, 2012 - We are off to the races!

Vladimir Ramirez

June 20, 2012

Buenos días.

Bienvenidos al primer Laboratorio de Emprendimiento de MIT AITI en América Latina.

Para lograr que una de las tres primeras universidades en el mundo y la primera en tecnología se interesara en Colombia y Cali para llevar a cabo este laboratorio y no lo hiciera en Argentina, Chile, Brasil u otro país, tuve que tener muchos éxitos durante los últimos 20 años y aprovechar al máximo cada oportunidad. 

Seguramente, también ustedes se han esforzado mucho para estar aquí; así, que maximicen las próximas 6 semanas.

Este Laboratorio también es el resultado de una actitud muy de los Estados Unidos: la de compartir el conocimiento, la de compartir el éxito, la de compartir el progreso y la prosperidad.  En los Estados Unidos se tiene muy claro que la prosperidad de unos beneficia a otros; esto no significa que unos pocos deban subvencionar a otros, esto significa que todos trabajan para lograr crear una “torta” más grande que todos puedan compartir.

Un claro ejemplo de esta mentalidad de prosperidad mutua son las cuatro personas de MIT que están con ustedes.  Ellos han tomado tiempo de sus trabajos, de sus obligaciones familiares, de sus proyectos personales para dedicarse tiempo completo durante 6 semanas a ayudarles a ustedes a ser más exitosos.  A cambio, reciben gran satisfacción personal y una pequeña fracción de la remuneración a que están acostumbrados.

Para participar en este Laboratorio les pido tres compromisos adicionales que van más allá del estar en él durante seis semanas. 

Primero, les pido que sean fieles a la filosofía de MIT y de nosotros de compartir todo lo que aprendan con todas las personas que puedan; que les ayuden a las que lo pidan o lo necesiten para que puedan ser exitosas.

Segundo, les pido que combatan la mediocridad que pueda haber en ustedes así como la que hay en Colombia. 

La falta de una cultura de excelencia, de hacer las cosas perfectas, porque así debe ser, al igual que el individualismo que quiere acaparar todas las oportunidades, y que considera que si alguien es exitoso nos está quitando algo son en gran medida las razones del insuficiente progreso de Colombia. 

Igualmente, les pido que entiendan que el conocimiento no es solo lo que está en los libros; también deben inspirarse en los referentes y los modelos; deben beneficiarse de este Laboratorio tanto por la cátedra como por el conocer y aprender de los instructores, de sus maneras de pensar de lo que los ha hecho exitosos.  Es decir, no solo aprendan la mecánica de las cosas aprendan el porque y el como para que así ustedes lo puedan replicar o mejorar. 

Finalmente, este Laboratorio es un primer piloto, que si es exitoso se llevará a cabo durante 4 años más con el patrocinio de Google y con el fin de fortalecer y aportar a las bases de un ecosistema de tecnologías móviles en Cali y el resto del país.  Ese es el objetivo, por eso ustedes deben contribuir impactando cada uno a 3 personas y exigiendo que cada una de ellas impacte a otras 3 más y así en adelante. 

Para cerrar quiero pedirles que se unan en mi agradecimiento a Michael Gordon, Jeanne (pronunciado Jean) Fahey, Jennifer Jordan, Iván Aguayo, Miguel Amaya y Danny Katz de MIT AITI y a nuestros aliados de la Universidad ICESI, Francisco Piedrahita, Rector, Gonzalo Ulloa, Decano de Ingeniería y Juan Carlos Muñoz profesor de la facultad por lograr que esta iniciativa se lleve a cabo.  

Vladimir Ramirez

MIT AITI Colombia call for Entrepreneur Applicants

Vladimir Ramirez

June 7, 2012

We are currently recruiting entrepreneurs for MIT AITI Colombia Summer 2012 to be held in Cali, Colombia at Universidad Icesi.  Together with Icesi we are inviting students and alumni from Univeridad del Valle, Universidad Libre, Parquesoft, Universidad Javeriana, Universidad San Buenaventura, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente y Universidad Santiago de Cali.  

The AITI program will be held during six weeks from June 19th through July 28th, 2012.