By Patrick Haller
Argentina’s tech sector is thriving, despite a less than stellar level of public sector stimulus. One of the most dynamic and tireless believers in Argentina’s potential is Vanessa Kolodziej – CEO of BA Accelerator, and a co-founder of the popular startup advocacy group, Palermo Valley. We caught up with Kolodziej to find out what’s really behind Argentina’s emergence.
Kolodziej has extensive experience with entrepreneurship, technology and venture capital in Latin America. Kolodzeij is also co-editor of Startup Digest BA and co-organizer of Startup Weekend and BarcampBA. She also co-founded several technology companies and was a VC investor.
NSAM: Tell us about the accelerator’s work.
Kolodziej: BA Accelerator helps entrepreneurs start their companies and increase their chances of success. We provide capital, know how, mentoring and connections, among many other things. The program is based in Buenos Aires but is open to entrepreneurs from all over the world. Our next call for entries closes on September 1.
NSAM: How do Argentine firms get their message out to the world?
Kolodziej: We rely on recommendations mainly and having our work speak for itself. Argentinean firms are professional, their employees are very creative and hard working, and we share many cultural traces with the US.
NSAM: What is the biggest misperception about Argentine tech companies?
Kolodziej: The biggest misperception is that we do not share the language or the culture with the US, which is not correct: most people involved in tech are fully fluent in English, have traveled or even studied in the US and understand American culture very well.
NSAM: Why should US companies be interested in software developed in Argentina?
Kolodziej: Software developed in Argentina is high quality but it is especially very elegant: we like solving problems with the least resources. It is in our DNA; we are used to both uncertainty and limited resources.
NSAM: Who are the top players in the Argentine IT sector?
NSAM: Where are the IT hot spots in Argentina?
Kolodziej: Buenos Aires is the leader, but great software is also developed in Mar del Plata and Tandil, Córdoba and Rosario, Tucumán and Mendoza, San Luis and Chaco.
NSAM: What are some of the obstacles with exporting software to the US?
Kolodziej: To the best of my knowledge, the only current obstacle is finding enough quality tech people, fast enough.
NSAM: What challenges do tech firms face either when starting or after they are established and they want to grow?
Kolodziej: Again, finding enough quality employees fast enough is the most important challenge. The cultural fit, small time difference and widespread use of English makes it all very simple.
NSAM: How supportive is the government of IT initiatives?
Kolodziej: Very, at the national, provincial and city levels. Different provinces have different incentives but one thing is clear: the government knows that the tech sector is a provider of jobs and currency, so it has been trying to facilitate it a lot lately.