ENTREPRENEURIAL MADNESS IN PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico is about to become the site for the largest mental institution in the Americas.
The exact location of the asylum is yet to be determined, although numerous sources confirm the cities of Santurce, Caguas, Bayamón and Mayagüez are competing for the project.
News of the project couldn’t have come at a better time, as Puerto Rico endures one of the most difficult periods in its history. The island has been suffering though a decade-long economic crisis that has resulted in a bizarre outbreak of madness.
The high-security mental institution will accommodate people who have chosen to do something about Puerto Rico’s economic woes rather than merely complain about them.
There is a group of insane educators out west, specifically at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, that in recent years has done the unimaginable. They have developed treacherous programs to encourage departments such as engineering, business administration and arts to innovate and collaborate with each other. Among the maniacs in this group are professors José Vega, Moraima de Hoyos and Ubaldo Córdova, as well as dean Agustín Rullán.
The group has been observed plotting to spread the entrepreneurial contagion throughout the university. Already numerous students have been infected with forward-thinking ideas and have begun to work on their own entrepreneurial initiatives, such as the student-driven startup accelerator Idea Platform, led by crazed student Emanuel Oquendo.
A similar alarming situation has emerged in San Juan, where a group of deranged students established a dangerous open space for innovation at Sagrado Corazón University called Neeuko, led by Javier de Jesus, Manny Morales and others whose degree of madness is beyond any standard outpatient intervention. Another lunatic making noise in the capital city is Heri de Dios at Atlantic University College, where he incubates demented digital arts students who having been recognized and awarded for their creativity have surrendered to delirium.
No one has more potential of inflicting irreversible damage upon society than the inventor, whose contagious, irrational ideas have unleashed systematic chaos on our island. Entrepreneur Guifre Tort and his unhinged colleagues have invented Tebs, a mechanism to generate energy using vehicular traffic. And it gets worse. Tort is collaborating with Posterriqueño, a team represented by a psychotic microbial ecology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Arturo Massol. The freakish endeavors of these two nut cases have earned them admittance to the new asylum.
Here again we have a disturbing situation reaching epidemic proportions. Amid the many who have lost their jobs or graduated college, some have gone bonkers and have instead on looking for secure employment—in our overabundant job market—they have chosen to start their on businesses and entrepreneurs. I kid you not.
Delirious people like Propel founder Carlos Frontera, who created a platform to help food distributors manage their inventories and monitor in-store execution, and Yin Luna, whose company Pick My Stuff matches merchandise with transportation providers to help drivers generate additional income and consumers move their stuff. University students like Maricarmen Vargas and Ricardo Román, who have turned their passion for video games into an international eSport company.
Crazier still are those who have voluntarily–for no reason whatsoever–shed their prestigious positions and lofty salaries to dive into deep entrepreneurial waters. Really batty people like Wesley Cullen, who stepped down from an enviable position as general manager of the Coliseo de Puerto Rico to launch Spotery, a place where people can find a spot for just about any activity or event. And Luis Pérez-Moreno, who left his post as senior vice president of Abarca Health to start FARO LLC, a firm focused on reinventing the management of specialized drugs in the Hispanic population. Who does that?
As if that weren’t enough, there are those who, clearly under the influence of a new kind of mental disorder, are using entrepreneurship and innovation to champion social causes. Take, for example, the case of clinical psychologists Maribel González and Joy Lynn Suarez, who founded School Climate Solutions to fight bullying and create safe and healthy school environments. There’s only one place for them.
LOONY BUSINESS LEADERS
An increasing number of entrepreneurs are succumbing to a neurotic need to export their products and services and expand their businesses abroad. Brenda Marrero of human resources firm BMA Group and Jorge Rodríguez of Paciv, a provider of automation, instrumentation, validation and control panel shop services, have lost their minds and have inspired others too lose theirs. Multiple witnesses have reported that these maniacs work nearly nonstop to grow their businesses.
There are odd cases like the one involving Gualberto Rodríguez of food distributor Caribbean Produce, who heads a campaign promoting the growth and consumption of local tomatoes and who supports local agro-entrepreneurs like Lidiana Rodríguez and George Economou of Florece Hidroponía in Morovis, where they also love tomatoes. Worst of all: these tomato-loving screwballs are determined to do what it takes to spread the entrepreneurial madness throughout the island. As you can see, this is a very serious problem.
Women are going off the rails. Many are starting up all kinds of imaginative ventures and producing exciting events to promote equality, personal growth, professional development and other so-called mindful and positive experiences.
Women like strategic business advisor Lizzie Rosso, who founded Are we there yet? to accelerate gender equality and put more women in influential leadership positions, and communications expert Frances Ríos, who created Women Who Lead to help women climb up the corporate ladder. Out of control women like social innovator and public relations leader Lucienne Gigante, who co-founded the Animus Innovation Journey and Access Latina, a nonprofit accelerator for Latinas, and Bonnie Bandas and Sheila Gómez, who are enabling crazy women to connect with each other via their global professional women’s network Ellevate.
Similar women-led initiatives are sprouting all over the island like weeds. If in fact, women-owned businesses tend to be more successful, then this trend more than justifies the opening of the asylum as soon as possible.
INCUBATORS, ACCELERATORS AND ABNORMAL SPACES
Further aggravating our plight is the recent proliferation of entrepreneurship programs, business incubators, accelerators and collaborative spaces in Puerto Rico. People in advanced stages of madness are spreading their condition to the masses through workshops, seminars and abnormal co-working spaces such as Piloto 151, whose unzipped co-founders Sofía and Juan Carlos Stolberg also run a software development school, and “maker” spaces, such as Makers Faire in Caguas and ADC Makers in San Juan, meant to facilitate the creation of prototypes and all kinds of senseless inventions.
In a strategic, paranoid move, Banco Popular Foundation established an Innovation and Social Collaboration Center in Hato Rey, and raving entrepreneurs Jon Borschow and Luis Torres each opened a “collaboration space” (wink, wink)–Borschow’s Colaboratorio in Santurce and Torres’ Engine4 in Bayamón, where various local startups are incubated. I’ll let you guess what they’re breeding in those incubators.
Laura Cantero and Grupo Guayacán continue to threaten our collective mental health with programs such as Entreprize, I-Corps and the Guayacán Venture Accelerator. I can attest to their unsettling effect, having participated in some of them and becoming somewhat unglued.
WACKY POLITICAL ASPIRANTS
In politics, the situation is distressing. So far this year, the infectious entrepreneurial madness has claimed the sanity of three individuals who are committed (no pun intended) to steering Puerto Rico in the right direction. Entrepreneurs Manuel Cidre and Alexandra Lúgaro and community leader José A. Vargas Vidot must be out of their minds to jump on the political bandwagon with the intention to trigger significant change through legislation. Surely, these three will end up on the express lane to the asylum.
PRIVATE SECTOR PSYCHOSIS
Something inexplicable is happening in the private sector. Big corporations, such as Ferraiuoli LLC, BDO Puerto Rico and Oriental Bank, are coming out of the woodwork to support local entrepreneurship. Banco Popular has come up with Echar Pa’lante and Startup Popular, initiatives that have the power to affect hundreds or thousands of people that might come to see entrepreneurship as a way out of our current financial predicament. They must be stopped.
OTHER DANGEROUS FRUITCAKES
The threats are too many to mention here, but I’ll name a few. The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, Parallel18, and Yees are taking advantage of young, impressionable minds to escalate the entrepreneurial madness and change the status quo. A group of bats in the belfry joined to launch a local chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), which openly and shamelessly promotes entrepreneurial growth, and another group of freaks coalesced to develop think-and-do tank ConPRmetidos, which launched Puerto Rico Global to attract investment and top-notch talent, stimulate innovation and facilitate the export of Puerto Rico’s goods and services. Absurd.
Alexandra Correa, too, is missing something upstairs. The successful founder of Pique Mi Madre and Puerto Rico Gourmet Products has come up with a perilous entrepreneurship kit, taking it to some 20 colleges to further fuel the outbreak. Often these crazies work in couples. Dana Montenegro and Angiemille Latorre of creative problem-solving firm Seriously Creative undoubtedly have gone off the deep end, holding highly suspicious ceremonies called Pecha Kucha–I’m not making this up–where a bunch of wackos share insane ideas under the disguise of wanting to accelerate growth by empowering people and organizations, pushing others to do crazy things like solve problems and get results. There’s only one place for this Bonnie and Clyde of entrepreneurship and innovation.
I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. Like everyone here, I was weathering the recession, hoping things would get better. Then, in what I thought it was my own personal epiphany–before I realized I had lost my mind–I thought to myself that hoping couldn’t compete with doing something about it. I took action and, in the process, met some of these demented people and started attending their crazy events and producing my own. I caught it.
This chronic, incurable disorder has compelled me to follow my bliss, to get involved in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, to seek success by helping others succeed, to create events such as the H3 Tech Conference, Animus Summit and, in May, Agrohack, all of them designed to spread innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration madness that I’m convinced is key to the economic recovery and development of our island.
Yes, I’m crazy. I admit it. I embrace the entrepreneurial madness. I’m pathologically optimistic because I believe things can, and will, get better in Puerto Rico. I’m nuts because I know it’s up to us, all of us together, to weather in change.
When the time comes, I’ll gladly check myself into the asylum with my fellow nut-cases. What are you going to do?
By Carlos R. Cobián
Founder, Cobian Media
Picture from the motion picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest