Omar Castillo, an entrepreneur from Costa Rica, today residing in the city of Chihuahua, Chihuahua; Mexico. His company was one of the hundred selected to be part of the acceleration program in Orion Startup powered by Tec de Monterrey. In a informal interview with Omar, we had the opportunity to talk about his journey in order to reach to be an entrepreneur like him, we also talk about the things he needed to do to be the person is today, his business idea and his future goals.
Omar told us about his journey since the entrepreneurial spark got in him and how everything started. Everything began when Omar decided to start studying the university; he told us that public universities in Costa Rica are better than most private universities this is why it is very difficult to get in. Omar tried to be accepted into college three times and in the third attempt he realized that he didn’t have other option than start a business, because it would be very difficult to hire him in any type of work without having a college education; so he decide to start a small company in Costa Rica that generated profits.
At that time he give himself the task of analyzing people, observe people he knew that had businesses and find out what they had done to be successful. His conclusion was simple ” they did something“. It did not matter if they did something very small or something very great, they just did things.
For this reason, Omar began to seize and work opportunities that presented to him. He became very good for business development at early stages, he started to develop new companies and projects some of them did not work, others do did, generating its first revenues and much knowledge.
Eventually he went to college and graduated from Industrial Engineering, but his approach was different: he did not longer saw college as a reason to get a job, but as a way to enhance his knowledge to grow a business.
The vision and passion of Omar did not coincide with the company that he founded while he was in collage, and even though the company already generated profits, he decide to left the company and leave his country in order to seek for something more.
When Omar embarks on a trip to South America, not in a specific direction but with intentions to explore, learn and meet people and different situations. This gave him a new perspective of his abilities.
And during one of those trips, when Omar was in the northern of Peru, something big happen. Omar didn’t find any place to spend the night all the hotels and hostels were booked, he had no choose, he drove to a rural community 30 minutes far from where he was and tried to find a place. His plan was knock door to door until he found a place to stay. The first door he knocked a very kind woman opened the door. Omar told her his situation and his intention to ask inn that night; The woman just stayed in silent so Omar turned around decided to leave and try again in the next house and just when he will turn around, the lady replied ‘yes, go ahead, you can come in‘.
She opened the doors of his house, she lend him, her sons room where he could took a shower and sleep. That night, Omar had the opportunity to share the dinner with the lady and her family, and he discovers how happy they were with their simple life.
This dinner changed Omar’s life because it changed his way of thinking. Thanks to this experience born Upe Places his current business that seeks to connect travelers with families from different communities and give them the opportunity to have authentic experience as he had that night.
He returned to Costa Rica to found the company, but not before to test his hypothesis, he started traveling with families offering to open the door to travelers. First he reaches to have the support of one community, now he has up to 5 communities and families that are open to receive travelers.
New goals: Orion Startups
Now after two years. Upe continues to grow and provide authentic experiences for travelers who are looking for different things.
The next step was to scale the business to other parts of the world and Mexico for him was a perfect country to start because these reasons:
- – The cost of living in Mexico is far less than in Costa Rica at significantly reducing costs
- – For contracts in Mexico also they found a lot of talent and the market is special to develop the company
- – When you get out of your usual routine, Omar can focus on the development and business strategy over the daily responsibilities operating in Costa Rica.
He now is part of the Batch 2.0 of Orion Startups. Currently, Omar and his business partner are expanding Upe to Mexico, with the help of national and international mentors, and with the 30K USD Capital they receive from Orion Startups.
Throughout his career Omar confirms that in order to have a successful business you have to ‘do things’. He says that enter into an American accelerator is no magic. The recipe to make your business succeed, or move to San Francisco to hire staff; starts into seize opportunities and learning by doing; surround yourself with people who know and focus on your goals.
Orion Startups is helping Omar and his company to the next level and continue this great journey. Apply to get on board!