A Systems Engineer from Manizales, Colombia, Óscar Giraldo had the dream of becoming a professional Roller Hockey player; the catch: obtaining a visa to try his luck in Spain or Portugal, the sport’s Meccas. Ultimately, he landed in Chile where, unbeknownst to him, he would found two startups and end up calling the country home.
Arriving to Chile in 2005, he began playing at a small roller hockey club while working in the banking industry. Despite a comfortable job and decent income, he felt increasingly unhappy performing monotonous tasks and not working towards his full potential. After three years, he quit and began working on a Click-to-Call application with a friend, thus resulting in the birth of his first startup: Medularis.
Medularis: The Ups and Downs of Entrepreneurship
As business partners, the pair continued developing Medularis and, within a few months, found an investor. With the money, they hired two employees and rented an office. Shockingly, the investor went back on his word and rescinded the money he’d offered, devastating Óscar and his partner, forcing them to fire their employees and pay all costs out of their own pockets. With no money to back their activities, they were forced back into the corporate world.
They kept running Medularis, eventually sealing a deal with a large client which subsequently attracted other users. Shortly, they became the number one Click-to-Call company in Chile, allowing them to quit their jobs once-and-for-all to manage the startup full time.
A year passed, and despite steady business, disagreements began to arise between the founders about where the startup was going, ultimately breaking Medularis apart at which time Óscar decided to sell the company to his now former partner.
Starting up from the Ground Up
Óscar, taking a breath of fresh air, began concocting a new startup. “It initiated as a need to do something to get out of that painful situation. This new company was created with the idea of changing remote sales and the way that people work in call-centers. Arcaris was considered a global company from the beginning,” he states.
Soon they received a large investment, allowing them to develop a new product and nail important deals with major retail companies like Walmart, Chile, and “El Palacio de Hierro” in Mexico, among others– thus achieving profitability.
Looking to expand his company to the US and Canadian markets, he applied to Corfo’s new Global Connection program, seeking the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley and incubate in the Plug and Play Tech Center, all expenses paid. On May 18th, he was selected as one of nine startups to participate in the pilot program, saying: “Our team has worked really hard and our main goal is to validate our business in the global market. I think if we can get one client of the Fortune 500 list in the US we can validate our business everywhere. That’s our goal.”
Óscar Giraldo is proof that sometimes you must fail to succeed and, here, he shares his advice with budding entrepreneurs: “First of all, find investors that understand your business. We were desperate to raise capital and we accepted the first offer of someone who knew nothing the business. Secondly is to align the interest of the partners and try that the common goals be shared and don’t let that the communication between you is interrupted. And last, if you are trying to sell a new product let customers try it first, because that’s the customer that’s going to validate your product.”