An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Medellin, Colombia
Though nicknamed “The City of Eternal Spring,” Colombia’s second-largest city has much more to offer than its favorable climate. Medellin has become a hub for entrepreneurs and digital nomads looking to enhance their careers. With an abundance of affordable coworking spaces, coffee shops with fast wifi, and all of the other amenities imaginable, the creative juices will be flowing, and productivity will skyrocket through the roof. Here is the essential entrepreneur’s guide to one of South America’s fastest growing cities.
1. Coworking Spaces: Selina and Casa Redonda
Selina, a top coworking space, doubles up as a hostel to help entrepreneurs settle into their new life in Medellin. Based in the tourism epicenter of El Poblado, Selina offers several membership packages and a wide variety of boarding options. Selina’s flexible plans range from one-day to one-month, offering hot desks or permanent desks. Furthermore, it is close to some of the cities best cafes and restaurants.
Casa Redonda is based further west in the trendy neighborhood of Laureles. Like most other coworking spaces, it has free coffee, tea, and infusions for all clients. However, Cafe Redonda doesn’t stop at serving drinks - it also exhibits entrepreneurs’ work to build up local interest. In addition, Casa Redonda hosts networking events, talks, and workshops, which are open to the public.
For more on where to work, read our co-founder’s eBook, Where to Work: Medellin, Colombia: Comprehensive list of coffee shops and coworking spaces in Medellin
2. Local Networks: Medellin Entrepreneur’s Society
Medellin Entrepreneur’s Society is a Facebook community for entrepreneurs to network with others, providing industry-specific advice as well as guidance for general life in Medellin. The ever-expanding “gringo” population is mostly made up of expats who are very welcoming to newcomers. This page is frequently updated with information on networking events and talks going on in the city. Check out the calendar for upcoming events.
Upon arriving, you will be asking yourself, “What is there to do in Medellin?” Luckily, Catalyst Weekly takes the liberty of hand-picking the best events in the city. Their sleek website categorizes different activities and includes their price, location, and a brief description. Whether you’re looking to learn salsa, practice your Spanish, or experience delicious Colombian cuisine, there is something for every type of entrepreneur. Stay in the loop with their weekly events.
3. Coffee Shops with Fast Wifi: Cafe Zeppelin and Cafe Velvet
Another perk about Medellin is its proximity to Colombia’s coffee region, allowing easy access to quality roast. With open doors until 11:30pm and plenty of charging points, Cafe Zeppelin is a great option for coffee lovers that are also night owls. This vintage cafe offers a selection of entrees, tapas, and desserts for a quick snack or meal between work.
A cup of joe from Cafe Velvet is a surefire way to boost productivity in the morning for early birds. Besides having high-speed Wifi, it is also equipped with single workstations for uninterrupted work. Although Cafe Velvet has a small lunchtime menu, its close-proximity to Parque Lleras in El Poblado gives it easy access to some of Medellin’s most popular restaurants.
4. Well-known Startups from Medellin: Rappi and Launchway Media
Rappi is a real Cinderella story for Medellin startups. Initially starting as a food delivery app in Colombia three years ago, it now delivers practically anything to anyone in seven Latin American countries. In addition to food, Rappi Favors now gives couriers the ability to walk customers’ dogs or do their homework. With popularity amongst expats and locals alike, Rappi couriers can be seen all over Medellin.
We wouldn’t be doing due diligence if we didn’t include Launchway Media. Although based around the world, we have also taken advantage of Medellin’s trending startup scene. Find out more about Why We Expanded our Company to Colombia.
For more on innovative startups, read our blog on 10 Colombia Startups that Prove Entrepreneurship is Here to Stay.
5. Best Apps to Get Around: Uber and Moovit
Uber, though technically illegal in Medellin, is one of the best options to get around. The local taxis are generally more expensive than the app alternative. Due to the meter constantly running in taxis, the fare can rise significantly if caught in Medellin’s infamous rush-hour traffic. Furthermore, being able to enter an address into Uber’s system is a life-saver if Spanish is still a work in progress. As previously mentioned, Uber is illegal, so it is recommended to sit in the front.
For a more budget-friendly option, Medellin has a developed metro system - cable cars included - and bus system that goes everywhere in the city. Moovit is an accurate and dependable app for current bus schedule information and other tips on how to easily get around using public transportation.
6. Local Companies That Help Entrepreneurs: Ruta N
Ruta N is one of the driving forces behind Medellin’s growing popularity with entrepreneurs and startups making the move to Colombia. Its goal is to develop different programs and services that facilitate economic growth towards businesses in science, technology, and innovation.
One fantastic project of Medellin’s star incubator is The Landing Program. This program has grown a state-of-the-art, innovative business center with 314 different offices. It focuses on making it easier for international companies to start operations in Medellin quickly. Since launching in 2012, it has attracted companies from Switzerland, Spain, Argentina, Chile, and the USA.
7. Medellin’s Not So Hidden Gems: Comuna 13
Although entrepreneurs head to Medellin to work on their business goals and development, it is likely they will want to learn a bit more about the eclectic culture of the city. Comuna 13 is a prime example of Medellin’s dark past, but a bright future.
Comuna 13 was formerly the most dangerous zone in the most dangerous city in the world. However, through government investment in the world’s largest outdoor escalator - allowing for residents to easily navigate the steep hills - and encouraging creative expression through street art and breakdancing, Comuna 13 has become a tourist hotspot.
Various companies operate free walking tours twice a day. If entrepreneurs are looking for an opportunity to give back, they can volunteer to teach English or participate in a language exchange.
Do you have any other tips for entrepreneurs thinking of moving to Medellin? Share them with us in the comments below.
About the Author
Mark Linsdell is a traveling writer from Brighton, England. He quit the dreary skies of the UK in 2014 and hasn’t looked back since. He currently resides in Medellin, Colombia where he likes to write, read, and eat too many empanadas. Follow him here: @MarkLinsdell.