Twist: A "Twist" on the American Burger

Tucked within Barranco, a colorful community and former fishtown in Lima, Twist has managed to create good, old fashioned American burgers with a twist of Peruvian influence. On the menu, you will find a delicious alpaca burger (one of Andrew’s personal favorites) and the Barranco Burger with spicy aji based sauced on top. For a couple wayward Americans, we were in burger heaven.  

“We’ve been in business for two years now,” says Jimmy McManners, an British ex-pat and founder of Twist. “When we opened, burger joints weren’t really a thing in Lima and we were able to truly differentiate ourselves from local restaurants. We also opened Twist in the midst of an artisanal beer boom in Lima. And there’s nothing that goes better with a good burger than a good beer” (we second that statement).

Jimmy McManners in front of his delicious menu at Twist. 

Jimmy McManners in front of his delicious menu at Twist. 

Opening a business in Peru was anything but a breeze for Jimmy. “It took us a good two years to obtain a license. Most people will bribe their way through the government bureaucracy but I refused. We wound up asking the mayor for special permission to open the business without a license, so we could start operations.”

Aside from the bureaucratic red tape, Jimmy says, “maintaining amazing service has been a difficulty.” When we prodded him on the subject, he admits that he does all he can to motivate employees. “You get way more from people if you provide a fair wage and treat them well. If you don’t, they will lose their drive or quit. If you lose a good staff member in this business, you are stupid. They are hard to find! Your employees are your best asset.”

Today, competition has increased in Barranco. “four years ago, there were few restaurants here. Now they are opening and closing all the time.” The tourism industry has played a role as more and more tourists flock to Barranco and away from Miraflores. “About 50% of my customers are either tourists or ex-pats,” says Jimmy. “The reason why they are coming to Twist is Trip Advisor.” At the time of our visit, Twist was the third most recommended restaurant in Lima. 

MCKC: Living Life as a Kid and Entrepreneur

We were walking around the small neighborhood of Barranco in Lima, Peru on a busy Saturday.

Barranco is a tranquil part of Lima that is known for its trendy bars, restaurants and beautiful scenery. The streets were crowded with people in the main plaza, listening to a live music show and dancing.

Just down the road we stumbled into a fair called “La Feria” (The Fair in english) where local entrepreneurs sell products and food on weekends.

The most interesting entrepreneur we met that day was Marlon Del Alcazar Ruiz, CEO of MKCK clothing line. Marlon, a senior in high school, had started his men’s apparel clothing line in his free time.

Marlon on left and his girlfriend on right. 

Marlon on left and his girlfriend on right. 

“I had a strong desire to become an independent person and contribute to my school payments. At first, MKCK was more of a hobby than an actual business,” explains Marlon.

Early on, Marlon realized that MKCK could be much more than a hobby. “It was growing faster than I expected and I ended up putting more and more time into the business."

MKCK caters to Peruvian and foreign men from teenage years to early thirties. Marlon focuses on a basic design, with small accents that are inspired by Peruvian culture. For example, one navy colored shirt sported a breast pocket designed with a Nazca Lines textile pattern.

“I really like that I get to create something different. The business helps me get in touch with my creative side and teaches me to be more responsible and organized,” says Marlon.

“Having a business and being in University is a bit of a challenge. Getting time to study is complicated, but I make it work.”

According to Marlon, his biggest challenge is making sure he provides time for MKCK, school and all the fun things in life. “Since I’m not alone in this project, it makes balancing work and life a lot easier.” Marlon’s mom helps sell products at the La Feria when he’s busy with school and Marlon’s cousin, Kenyi helps with delivery and creating new designs. “We all work together as a team.”  

But all in all, Marlon still wants to be a kid, hang out with his friends and play soccer. “I am making sure to live life the way I want it, while being an entrepreneur.”

Drop: A New Development in Wearable Health Technology

“I’m a hungry entrepreneur because I’m desperate to reach my goals. I’ll do whatever it takes to complete them,” explains Tony Cueva Bravo, Co-Founder of Drop, a medical hardware start up in Lima, Peru.

Tony Cueva Bravo

Tony Cueva Bravo

In December 2014, Tony was wrapping up his university career with a major in electrical engineering and started having doubts about his chosen career path.

“I really wanted to contribute to society and I wasn’t sure that as an engineer I would be able to fulfill that goal to my utmost ability.”

He decided to take an entrepreneurship course offered by the University on a whim and instantly fell in love.

“I was WOWed! That class has completely changed my life. I realized that as an entrepreneur I would have leverage and an impact on society.”

For the next few months, Tony began spending afternoons sipping on Starbucks coffee and surfing the internet for his big idea. But, each idea he came up with didn’t seem to fit. That’s when Tony realized his hands were sweating again.

He suffers from hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating, a condition he finds embarrassing and uncomfortable. “What if other people are suffering the same pain as me?” asked Tony. That’s when Drop was born. 

Drop is a portable medical device that reduces excessive sweating by applying small doses of electricity.

Right now, the device is a prototype but Tony expects to launch the product by the end of 2016 in Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

His big hurdle has been registration with Peru’s version of the FDA. “It involves a lot of tests and trials. The product could receive registration in as little as six months or as much as a year.” As Tony looks to markets outside of Peru, he’ll have to overcome registration processes in those countries as well.

Throughout the entire process, Tony’s biggest lesson has been perseverance, “If you love what you are doing and you are passionate about the idea, you will gain the perseverance. Perseverance is key because there are a lot of ups and downs in starting a business. Mistakes will be made.”


Need help with YOUR Start Up? Meet MIT'S Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

Tony says one of the biggest things that has helped him during his start up processes was MIT’s Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, “a nexus connecting entrepreneurs from around the world to the entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Entrepreneurs selected are expected to start companies in one week and pitch their idea before a panel of investors. Apply for The MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp here: bootcamp.mit.edu

Merida Romero Art Gallery: "It is for the love of Art"

“My wife and I opened the art gallery four years ago because we wanted to show off Bolivian artists and their talent,” says Jose Miguel Romero, the co-owner of Merida Romero Art Gallery, located in La Paz, Bolivia.

“We wanted to be part of the lives of people who pass our gallery on the street. So, we turned our gallery into a personal experience for visitors, allowing them to look at books of art and choose the music playing in the gallery from an Ipad.”

Merida Romero Art Gallery in La Paz, Bolivia

Merida Romero Art Gallery in La Paz, Bolivia

As we walk around the gallery with Jose, he points out some of his favorite Bolivian artists, like the sculptor Leon Savadra and 87-year-old painter Alfredo Lapla.              

Alfred is one of the most important and representative artists in Bolivia; not only because of the multitude of paintings he has created, but also because of his amazing talent with oil and acrylic paints. Jose proudly tells us that Romero Gallery has the honor of hosting Alfredo Lapla’s last exhibit ever later in October 2015.

Picture of painting by  Alfredo Lapla      (Copyright: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150811-d8180239-Reviews-La_Sala_Art_Design_Gallery)

Picture of painting by Alfredo Lapla  

(Copyright: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150811-d8180239-Reviews-La_Sala_Art_Design_Gallery)

Earlier this year, Jose expanded the Romero name and opened a new art gallery in a high-end mall in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

“Selling in a mall is a completely new experience for us,” says Jose. “We are seeing if people will react well to the concept.” With 5-meter high paintings and large abstract sculptures, the exhibit is drawing people in and doing well.

“Santa Cruz is a tropical, almost jungle-like setting and the people are very eccentric! We are getting amazing reactions from the abstract work in the exhibit.”

At the end of the day, “our goal is not to just sell art in our galleries,” reminds Jose. “It is to promote art. Merida Romero is not just a business for my wife and I, it is so much more than that, it is a love of art.

Unique: It's all about the fashion!

With walls covered in hand crafted boulder hats, knit alpaca scarves, trendy sweaters and ethnic jewelry, the brand name Unique describes the tienda perfectly. Founder Maria Stach is a veteran entrepreneur. “I used to own a restaurant,” says Maria. “Then one day, I woke up and suddenly being in the restaurant business no longer appealed to me the way it used to. I started looking for other businesses that would fit my personality. The concept behind Unique came naturally to me because I have a real love and passion for handcrafts.” The pieces in Unique are designed by Maria and made by local artisans.

Kaitlyn Ersek on left, Maria Stach on right.

Kaitlyn Ersek on left, Maria Stach on right.

“My biggest challenge was switching from the restaurant industry to the fashion industry. I had to learn a completely different industry and way of running a business.”  For example, it took Maria some time to find the right artisans that would collaborate with her on designs, deliver on time and create a quality product.

Another big problem Maria faced was the location of her store. While the best locations for shops is the main drag in La Paz’s tourist district, Maria’s store is a few blocks away from the main shopping corridor. “My location hurts business. I need to constantly be handing out flyers and getting referrals from customers. My webpage didn’t seem to help matters, but Facebook and Trip Advisor have been extremely useful.”

While being an entrepreneur can be a challenge, “if you believe in yourself, you can make your dreams come true,” states Maria.

Check out Kaity’s finds at Unique! A cholita, inspired felt hat.

Andrew Bagwell on left, Kaitlyn Ersek on right with Unique's felt hat. 

Andrew Bagwell on left, Kaitlyn Ersek on right with Unique's felt hat. 

Antigua Miami: "Anything could happen in Bolivia"

Bolivia entrepreneur

“Bolivia is a fun place to start something in. You never know what is going to happen. Anything could happen here,” says Sukko Stach, Founder of Antigua Miami, a café in the heart of La Paz’s bustling tourist district.

Sukko grew up in the Bolivian restaurant industry. When he studied at a Canadian University, he worked for and helped open several restaurants and bars in the area. “It was a lot of work and I put in a lot of energy for something that wasn’t my own.” So, Sukko decided to pack his bags and return to Bolivia to start his own venture.

“One of the great things about opening a business here in Bolivia compared to Canada is that the initial investment is A LOT lower,” explains Sukko.

Sukko discussing coffee with a customer from Germany.

Sukko discussing coffee with a customer from Germany.

“I decided to open a coffee shop as opposed to a bar or restaurant because a coffee shop is manageable by a single person and involves less energy,” says Sukko. Sukko sees Antigua Miami as an incubating space for future ideas. “It’s a way to test and better understand the Bolivian market in La Paz,” explains Sukko. In the future, he plans to open other businesses, starting with a micro brewery.

Despite the fact that Sukko opened the coffee shop only 10 weeks prior to our interview, Antigua Miami was already listed as the #1 restaurant /café to visit in La Paz on Trip Advisor. So far, about 80% of Sukko’s customer base are tourists. That’s because tourists tend to be more in tune with the coffee culture than do Bolivians.

The coffee shop itself is an accumulation of Sukko’s travels. “I was super inspired by traveling through Europe. I’ve been taking ideas from other places and have finally been able to put them all together and to manifest Antigua Miami’s identity.”

Bolivia emprendedor

When it comes to entrepreneurship, “It is about taking a risk and really following through with your ideas. A lot of people have great ideas. Having a good idea is just 5% of success. The rest is when you make those ideas a reality.” For Sukko, making his dreams a reality starts with putting his ideas on paper. “I carry around a moleskin journal and write down all of my dreams and ideas. You never know when one of those ideas will come in handy a few years down the road.”

Silvana Cosulich: Design that tells a story

Bolivia emprendedora

We walked up the stairs of an apartment building in La Paz, Bolivia and entered designer, Silvana Cosulich’s studio which doubled as her home. A manikin was dressed in an almost lacy looking alpaca sweater and on the coffee table beside her “look book” were beautifully crafted stained glass necklaces. Over the last eight years, Silvana has dedicated her life to style and to giving back to alpaca crafters in the La Paz region through her design workshops. While she has typically sells to boutiques in the La Paz area, her designs are also available in Colombia and Mexico.

Bolivia entrepreneur

How did you get started?

I’ve always loved drawing and painting. I studied art and design in Mexico and Colombia. I learned early on that selling art is difficult but when you can couple a piece of art or design with a product, you can make a living while creating something beautiful. That is why I started getting into alpaca fashion and jewelry. I have been creating my own designs since 2007.

 

Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?

At the end of the day, people want a unique product that tells a story. Through my designs, I am truly telling the story of La Paz and passing that story along to people outside of Bolivia.

Almost all of the materials I use are made and produced in Bolivia (the stained glass in her jewelry is from France) and much of the inspiration comes from Bolivian folklore and the colorful culture we have here.

 

How do you give back to alpaca artisans in Bolivia?

I teach workshops to alpaca artisans. I show them how to create a prototype that tells a story and then I teach them how to sell. I show them that their work is highly valued and to not sell their products for less than they are worth - which is a problem here in Bolivia. I am very proud of Bolivian artisans. They are doing incredible things!

 

What is a key piece of advice that you would give a fellow entrepreneur?

No matter your product or service, design is key. It has to tell your company’s story… or whatever other story you are trying to tell. Also, you must have a vision and a lot of perseverance to see it through.

Masterline Logistics: "If you die with your boots on, at least you can say you tried!"

bolivia entrepreneur

Entrepreneurial Trek: How did this business get started?

Jean Dessenoix: I grew up with a French diplomat for a father and a Mexican mother. We traveled the world and I fell in love with international relationships.

That childhood, primed me for international opportunities in business (politics just weren’t my thing). After a sting in the “Real World”, my wife and I teamed up to start Masterline Logistics in 2003. At the time, we were located in Mexico but after a couple years, we decided to move the business to Bolivia. It is important to us that we invest money in Bolivia and make sure that the money we did invest, stays in Bolivia.

Masterline has a very artistic and human approach to business that makes us different from competitors. That is my wife’s influence. She is a painter and the business has become the perfect joint collaboration between business and art. We are less focused on numbers and more focused on the relationships.

Being an innovative entrepreneur is a lonely journey (modestly speaking...I am still looking for the good formula and I may not find it at the end of this journey...). We are trying to build and prove our own business theory.

Jean Dessenoix Left, Kaity Ersek Right

Jean Dessenoix Left, Kaity Ersek Right

Entrepreneurial Trek: Why did you decide to start your business in Bolivia?

Jean Dessenoix: You don’t need to be in New York City to make money. Don’t get me wrong, the volume of business is larger in The States and Europe, but the rules in Bolivian aren’t so strict that it won’t let your imagination flow.

Look at it this way, when building a company in Europe you have to first consider the rules of the system and taxes and all that other crap. It is not only difficult, you just don’t want to invest the time into figuring it out. The system keeps creative people from launching new companies.

 

Entrepreneurial Trek: What makes Bolivia special?

Jean Dessenoix: I believe there are more opportunities and freedom in Bolivia. Everything is so new here and there are just so many needs for an entrepreneur to respond to. If you want to open a company in Bolivia, You will find an idea and, chances are you won't find a ton of competition. Plus, it is the only country in South America growing at 5%. Unlike the rest of the world, we really aren't feeling the economic crisis. 

The Bolivians are a very special group. Something like 50% of the people here are entrepreneurs. Everyone is buying and selling. They are constantly doing business.

 

Entrepreneurial Trek: What was your initial investment when launching the company?

Jean Dessenoix: About $13,000 USD

 

Entrepreneurial Trek: What is a mistake people make when starting a business? 

Jean Dessenoix: Some people make the mistake of starting businesses with their eyes only on the numbers. It is a very cold vision. I believe, you need passion and a goal. Running a business is more than just money.

 

Entrepreneurial Trek: What advice would you give another entrepreneur?

Jean Dessenoix: Forget about what you already know, open your mind to new things, new experiences, and new knowledge. Also, you have to invest more than 100% your effort. It is not just a business, it’s your life. If you die with your boots on, at least you can say you tried.

 

Entrepreneurial Trek: Do you have to go to University to be successful? 

Jean Dessenoix: I didn’t finish my university career. All those books just weren’t for me. I found that learning to sell was a more worthy education than what they were pandering at school. Your experience is your knowledge.

Forget all the years you spent in University. When you leave University, you know all the same things as all the other graduates. Instead of spending time there, try to understand the way the world works. Go travel and open your mind. Burn your passport and start fresh. Life isn’t always about numbers; it is about sounds, images and emotions too.

Start Up Chile: Can we create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile?

Start Up Chile
Start up chile

“Five years ago, Start-Up Chile was born. Its mission – to literally transform the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem. It all began with a single question. What would happen if we could bring the best and brightest entrepreneurs from all around the world and insert them into the local ecosystem?” Would it create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile?

While hanging out at El Centro De Emprendimiento Telefonica Open Future – one of Start-Up Chile’s co-working spaces in the trendy part of Santiago, and looking out at the multitude of entrepreneurs from all around the world, there is no question about it: Start-Up Chile is making a difference for these companies and the local economy.

Today, Start-Up Chile has accelerated 1,100 startups (about 300 per year) from 70 different countries, with about 35% of those entrepreneurs originating from Chile. 79% of those startups are still alive today, 1% have been sold and 20% have died. In addition to providing grants worth 30,000 USD to each team, a six-month mentoring period to jump start their businesses, and a kick-ass academic program, the best startups are also offered a spot on Demo Day where they have the opportunity to connect with investors in Latin America and the rest of the world.  

Chile emprendedor

According to recent data released by Start-Up Chile, their startups are having a big impact on Chile’s economy. 32% of startups in Chile have been funded (outside of Start-Up Chile’s grant), amounting to 41,559,000 USD, and their top 5 most successful startups have valuations from 10,000,000 to 75,000,000 USD. These startups are also responsible for job creation in both Chile and abroad; 485 foreign jobs and 974 Chilean jobs have been created thanks to Start-Up generations 1 through 12. The community has also seen an increase in incubators and accelerators. And the Start-Up concept has spread to Brazil, Peru and elsewhere in Latin America.

“There’s still a lot of ground to cover,” says newly promoted, Director Rocio Fonseca. “The future looks awesome and we are continuing to improve Start-Up Chile.” Already, Start-Up Chile has offered new programs ranging in time frames to meet the needs of different types of startups and industries. “We are also working on improving our academic program and building an investor club to help catalyze an investor ecosystem within Chile. As we continue to improve our services for startups we are hoping to retain more and more foreign startups in Chile” (About 10% of foreign startups are choosing to stay in Chile).

According to Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, “It’s the greatest program I’ve seen of this type in the world! I’m gonna recommend it to my own kids.”

Chile emprendedor

5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Start-Up Chile

1.   It goes without saying that the 30,000 USD grant provided by the Chilean government is a tempting treat for any startup looking to make a name for itself.

2.   You are surrounded by some of the most creative, and brightest entrepreneurs in the world. Companies have come from 70 different countries to be part of the program with about 35% of entrepreneurs originating from Chile. As my great-grandfather used to say, “A wise man learns from his experiences, but a super wise man learns from the experiences of others.” By being part of a huge and extremely diverse community of entrepreneurs, you can further your entrepreneurial learning by hanging out with and learning from other startup founders.

3.   They are serious about educating entrepreneurs. Not only do you get access to mentors, but they bring in tons of workshops and events so you can get your learn on. For example, each week they have a intensive pitch training workshop that’s popular with the program’s current entrepreneurs.

4.     El Centro De Emprendimiento Telefonica Open Future Co Working Space is a fun place to work and network. We had the opportunity to sneak in (shhh don’t tell anyone) and hang out with some of the entrepreneurs at Start-Up Chile’s headquarters in Santiago.

5.   Santiago is just plain awesome! Chile’s capital is nestled in a valley of mountains, only a couple of hours from amazing surf, hiking, wine and skiing. The city itself is a fun mixture of cute cafes, businesses and a fun bar scene. Santiago, Chile has been one of our favorite cities (we do play favorites) in South America! What are you waiting for?

UNITEC: "Each moment in your life adds up. It makes you who you are."

chile emprendedor

When BP – the owner of Castrol Products decided to pivot and change their Chilean business model to incorporate distributors, Carlos Herrera decided to take advantage of the opportunity and open his own Castrol Distribution. That’s when UNITEC was born. “Ultimately, it’s been a win-win for both BP/Castrol and UNITEC,” says Carlos. “We’ve been named one of Castrol’s top distributors worldwide for the past the past two years in a row.”

Chile Emprendedor

UNITEC focuses on selling Castrol products to engineers, with most of their clients in the mining (they hold an exclusive in the national mines), pulp and paper, steel, metal industry, and class industries among others. 

“A big reason why we are so successful is because we are super transparent when dealing with clients and we don’t stuff the pipeline. We focus on building long-term relationships instead of short term gains. It can be difficult sometimes but overall, I believe it is one of the reasons why we have been so successful at UNITEC.”

At the end of the day however, to lead and win in your industry Carlos reminds entrepreneurs to stay focused and to push, push, push. “Find your idea and follow it,” urges Carlos. “Select your top priority or two for the year and stick to it.” Once you have chosen your focus, Carlos says, “keep moving and don’t stop. If you stop… even for a moment, the competition will catch up.”

And, when things go wrong? "Everything happens for a reason. Every moment in your life and every learning opportunity you come across, adds up. It makes you who you are. It's connecting the dots," states Carlos, echoing a quote from Steve Job's Stanford Commencement Speech. 

“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”  -Steve Jobs.