5 Questions with Gonzalo Mena, Community Leader

May 18, 2021

As an entrepreneur for over 12 years, I've focused my training and experience in working with entrepreneurs, helping them turn their ideas into successful and innovative businesses. A Chilean now living in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I also take time to enjoy the wonders of the Enchantment Island and developing my hobbies of photography and writing.

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

While looking for information of how to be a better entrepreneur (after several failures trying to grow my own businesses) I read a tweet that stated: "Learn how to become and entrepreneur in 54hrs." I knew nothing of Techstars or Startup Weekend when I arrived to the venue, and wasn't aware of the scope of the event and the community. But 54hrs later, I was in love with it!

02. How have Techstars Startup Weekends impacted your life?

I cannot overstate my passion for this program and how it has changed my life, since now I'm living a life I never thought would be possible for me: doing what I love, teaching and helping people through entrepreneurship, on a Caribbean Island!

I first got to visit Puerto Rico thanks to an invitation to facilitate an event here by Nerma Albertorio), and I initially bonded with the woman who is now my wife while she attended a Startup Weekend event in San Juan. Plus, I got a tattoo of the SW beaker! (Not very recognizable now that the branding changed, haha.)

Read a mini-interview with Nerma Albertorio to learn how she's helping to grow Puerto Rico's startup community.

03. Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

For me, entrepreneurship is the solution to all of worlds problems. Inequality, access to growth opportunities, fixing social problems, all can be solved once you teach people about their own value, you empower them to believe they have everything they need to change their reality, and you them welcome them in a community where collaboration is the key and "Give First" is the motto. That changes lives for the better! I have experienced it, and have seen it in others.

More entrepreneurs (both inside regular jobs/corporations and out there starting from scratch) will level the field for everyone, change the business models to be sustainable and fair, and will improve the world for future generations.

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

I try to volunteer for other programs as well as Startup Weekend (Big shoutouts to Centro para Emprendedores, One Hundred Ventures and Grupo Guayacan!), and work with my consulting company Normalidad Digital trying to help entrepreneurs digitalize and seize the opportunities this "forced digitalization through covid" is offering.

Whenever I can, I love to teach in universities and colleges, it's amazing what you learn when you are in front of young and hungry minds!

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

Currently the Puerto Rican ecosystem is growing very quickly and steadily, and more and more programs and opportunities are opening here. The island has a lot of potential, and Puerto Ricans are strong with entrepreneurial spirit, plus, they are the happiest people on the planet! So with more work and collaborations, I'm sure soon the Enchantment Island will also become and entrepreneurial and innovation hub in the Caribbean.