Argentinian software services company, Belatrix, has opened a new software delivery center in Bogota, Colombia, shelving Costa Rica and Mexico as back-up options for expansion.
After some deep analysis of the three countries, the company settled in Bogota, attracted by the skills of the large labor pool, according to Fernando Gonzalez Aguirre, VP of Marketing at Belatrix. “We found that people had the right development talents and there was a strong level of English,” he said.
Since the middle of April 2017, the company has established an initial 15 people in Bogota, but expects 10 new employees to join in July, with 60 in total by end of the year.
Belatrix initially met with Invest in Bogota at a Nearshore Americas’ event, Nexus 2016, which resulted in the Colombian agency guiding the company through the process of expansion.
“With the economic situation in Argentina last year, we wanted to setup somewhere else while things settled down, so we looked at Guadalajara in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Bogota and Medellin in Colombia,” said Aguirre.
When questioned about the fall backs of Costa Rica, Aguirre cited its small labor pool and abundance of strong competitors. For Mexico, he pointed out that working costs are much higher. Even so, the company says that “Mexico is the next step” and is expecting to expand there “sooner, rather than later”.
Colombia has plenty of mobile developers, which Belatrix was struggling to find in Peru. The country has good access to technology, with almost any type of modern device available to consumers at competitive rates. This has helped regular people start experimenting in the mobile development world.
Even so the education sector is not doing much to develop the right talents, according to Aguirre. “One challenge we found in Colombia is that there are several universities that are preparing technical people, but focusing mostly on a business orientation,” he said. “These people don’t have the best profile for us, because we need engineers, not managers.”
Cost wise, the working costs in Colombia are a little lower than in Peru, and much lower than in Argentina. Colombia and Peru have a similar cost for hiring engineers, while Argentina is about 5-7% more expensive. This could change in the near future depending on how things evolve in Argentina with the upcoming elections.
“On the technical side, clients know they can find great talent here, and we even lost a few opportunities from companies who were specifically looking for resources in Colombia,” said Aguirre. “After we announced the move to Bogota, two US clients came back to us — one in healthcare and one in retail — due to the combination of cost, talent, and cultural similarities they can benefit from in Colombia.”
Colombia was recently ranked as having the lowest proficiency for English in Latin America, but Belatrix found that almost everyone they interviewed spoke English, especially graduates of the country’s better universities.
“The overall rate is low, but our target market for developers has a high rate of good English, even better than Peru and similar to Argentina,” said Aguirre.
Importance of Company Culture and Retention
It’s no secret that competition is plentiful for software services in Bogota, with many big companies vying for the same human resources. However, Aguirre has noticed that competitors are not offering the same benefits as they would in other locations, giving Belatrix an advantage.
Furthermore, people in Colombia can quit their jobs without any notice by law, and there are no contractual ties for people to give notice, so the company is focusing on internal culture and other benefits to retain talent.
“The best approach is to offer flexible schedules, good compensation, and an enjoyable working environment,” he said. “Colombian people are similar to Argentinians in culture and interactions, so we’ve been able to replicate our established approach pretty well.”