I hope this blog post isn't too tangential to our website's audience. Perhaps it would help explain a little more about how we got started.
I brought this subject up, because FlightFox recently wrote an article about currency trading on the Black Market, on the streets of Buenos Aires. I figured it should be a good time to revisit my origins.
From 2011-2012, I lived in Buenos Aires for 8 months, working on a startup called Playtomic. It was a great opportunity, being able to learn from the pros: seeing first-hand, how my boss worked 14-hours/day, putting intense dedication into the product. Learning how high-level meetings take place, and how products were launched.
Apart from work, Buenos Aires is a great place to live in. If you like latin wine, music and meeting interesting people, it's the place to be. A lot of Americans make the 10-hour flight down every summer ( October - March ), some deliberately avoiding the cold winters in the north. That always helps with creating a vibrant expat community.
I remember vividly the days, where the team would work out of our office in Areatres, Palermo Soho. It's one of the first places Javier (senior developer) took me to, straight out of the plane. Oddly enough, a Starbucks sits adjacent to the office, and greets us every day. Post-lunches always ended up here ( who doesn't want a cup of coffee after lunch ). It was here that I picked up my still horrible Argentine Spanish (Castellano), struggling for the first few weeks trying to order a coffee, plus a bagel with cream.
Over time, I started to appreciate the Latin culture, attending various events and mingling with the folks. Late and long lunches became the norm. Weekends were weekends.
The tech scene is upbeat, with many travellers/hackers coming in and working their magic. Unfortunately they never stayed long enough, to start a potential project together. I even met a part-time HTML5 game developer, but he was too busy working on client projects ( some facebook marketing app he says ).
When i first thought of MarketJS, I never considered starting a team in Buenos Aires, because I couldn't find a dedicated set of people to tackle hard problems. My ex-boss was still working on his company, and that left me wandering around seeking talent. Human capital, especially in HTML5 was really hard to find.
The other option was to move back up to the States, but that required a significant amount of investment. We all know how that goes for foreign founders. After three attempts, we still have no sign of victory.
What about Latin incubators? I did exactly that, applying to Startup Chile and was accepted into Batch 5. It was a great opportunity (albeit in a different latin country), but it had a few drawbacks. The fund, back then was based on reimbursable expenses. Which meant you had to spend money, to get it back. I was not in a position to do that, but some of my friends from Areatres took the offer.
The doors were closing in. I had a fantastic 8 month stay in Buenos Aires, but it was time to move on. I discovered a whole new life and business in Asia instead. I'll leave this for another blog post.
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