5 Questions with Violeta Morán Carofilis, Community Leader

Nov 23, 2021

Violeta Morán Carofilis has been working on the development of the entrepreneurship community since 2011. She is Executive Director at Fundación Emprender, where she runs the National Campaign for GEW Ecuador and is the Community Builder for GEW Ecuador. Violeta is also an advisor for Girls in Tech Ecuador, a global non-profit focused on the engagement, education, and empowerment of influential women in technology and entrepreneurship. She is a Techstars community leader and has helped to organize Techstars Startup Weekends since 2014, including Startup Weekend Guayaquil, Startup Weekend Women Edition, Startup Weekend Youth, and Startup Weekend Universities. Then for five years she organized Startup Weekend Agrotech with the Escuela Superior Politécnica Agropecuaria de Manabí, helping develop the startup comunity of Manabí. She is a proud mother and a consistent advocate for women's empowerment and the role of women in entrepreneurship.

01. How did you get involved in Techstars Startup Programs?

I was part of the team that organized the first Startup Weekend in Ecuador in 2014. We knew about this program because I am the Campaign Coordinator for Global Entrepreneurship Week Ecuador and Startup Weekend has been a related event for GEW since the beginning.

We organized the Startup Weekend as a GEW event to create an entrepreneurial community in the city of Guayaquil. In that city, the technological community started to rise in 2012, but only two years later it stalled. We saw in Startup Weekend an opportunity to improve the community through education and the development of ideas. We had more than 120 participants, 15 mentors, international speakers, and an overwhelming response from the community. We enjoyed the first event so much that the same organizing team developed another four Startup Weekends with different verticals: Women, Youth, Kids, and Universities. These events were the starter flame for other communities such as Girls in Tech Ecuador, Conecta Guayaquil, the club movement for some universities like Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, and the rise of coworking spaces and incubators.

02. How have Techstars Startup Programs impacted your life?

The energy, the passion, and the experience that is a Startup Weekend is something you cannot explain to others, you have to live it. For me, Startup Weekend is a safe place to live your dream, meet other crazy people like you, and make bonds with different kinds of people in my country and around the world.

As an organizer, you try to give your community the best Startup Weekend possible and open for them all the opportunities that this international community provides to local ecosystems. Startup Weekend gave me the opportunity to connect with a lot of experienced people who wanted to share their knowledge and nourish the community by teaching us their abilities. I also like to point to the inspiration of the participants and the update you have from the international community; this challenges us to search more and work harder for our local community.

03. Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

I understand entrepreneurship as the ability to develop an idea and transform it into a solution for society and into a successful business, this is what makes me passionate about entrepreneurship, ideas, and development. For me, it is an honor and a pleasure to be able to help in any way for those ideas to thrive and watch entrepreneurs succeed with their startups. I feel realized when I find I helped to create a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, strong and in constant development.

I believe that entrepreneurial philosophy is the path we have to follow to achieve sustainable economic development for emerging countries. I also believe that education is the key to social development. You cannot work with entrepreneurial communities without education. So, I see myself as an entrepreneurial educator in training.

04. How else are you involved in your community's startup ecosystem?

I am the Campaign Coordinator for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Ecuador. This annual event occurs in November and includes the participation of millions of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers, educators, entrepreneurship support organizations, and interested individuals around the world. In Ecuador, we have more than 120 allies that organized more than 200 events across the country. This year most of the events were virtual, but we started to have some events live, like trade fairs and some outdoor meetings.

05. What's next for your community's entrepreneurship ecosystem?

The needs in my community are a lot, but I focus my efforts on two particular groups, usually forgotten and underestimated, but they are the future of our developing economies: Women and Agri-entrepreneurs. There are a couple of universities I collaborate with and we are working in these two specific areas. With Escuela Superior Politécnica Agropecuaria de Maanbí, we are working in the agrotech community, exposing entrepreneurs to international networks and creating spaces to develop and grow their ideas through the ESPAM - MFL Incubator. With the i3lab of Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, we will start working to improve female entrepreneurs' opportunities, especially with access to investment and knowledge. We aim to create a better scenario for entrepreneurs that have a lack of opportunities in our ecosystem.