Meeting Entrepreneurial Behemoths at the International Design Festival

I’ve never hidden the fact that I originally worked on television prior to finding my passion for code. I’ve always dabbled within many fields of knowledge, taking advantage of that edge which multiple points-of-view will undoubtedly give you when writing that n’th line of code. At Gorilla Logic, I can truly say I’m not alone in this hunger for learning and blurring the lines between disciplines and I’d even go so far as to calling it a trend. We pride ourselves in having a fervent multidisciplinary environment where makers, artists and even hardcore businessmen and women come together to collaborate through our love of computer science and software development. 

With that being said, it might not come as a surprise that I would want to participate in and share my experiences at the seventh iteration of the International Design Festival (known by its initials in Spanish as FID) which we celebrated, here in Costa Rica, a couple of weeks ago. 

There, I had the unique opportunity to pick the brains of entrepreneurial behemoths regarding topics such as the global role of Costa Rica and Latin America in relation to innovation – what things we’re doing right, where we can improve, and globalized culture in general.

In being given the opportunity to attend this event, I expected to gain some deeper insight as to how creative thinkers are putting technology to good use and boy, did I! I had the pleasure of personally speaking with Peter Presley, Sergio Caballero, David del Valle, Nicolás Bautista & Diana Zuleta, and Daan Roosegaarde. 

Here are some highlights of my interactions…

Peter Presley

Peter Presley

Peter is the founder of NewCo, a venture focused on establishing a stronger bridge between Latin America, Silicon Valley, and other global innovation hubs. Peter gave a wonderful and inspiring presentation focusing on the idea of boosting Costa Rica to the same level as innovation driven nations.

Drawing a direct comparison between Costa Rica and Israel, taking into account both nations’ education quality and population size, he was emphatic in mentioning Costa Rica could be listed alongside Israel in Bloomberg’s innovation index.

Two of my favorite quotes from his talk were:

1.“If you’re playing with grade-A players, your game goes up.” (This is something most of us, Gorillas, can definitely relate to, as it encompasses the day-to-day environment at our offices!)

2. “I’m probably going to create part of my company here.” (A vote of confidence which generated a cheering roar from the ticos in the audience)

In sitting down to speak with Peter, I was pleasantly surprised to find out he knew Gorilla Logic and our foundersBesides this, he shared with me his vision of turning Costa Rica’s still untapped potential into true world-changing innovation. He wants to improve the quality of the ideas and businesses here so that Costa Rica will be associated with a brand that is doing amazing things on a world level. Needless to say, this was a phenomenal start to the festival.


Sergio Caballero

Sergio CaballeroSergio is a multidisciplinary artist known and highly regarded as one of the main creative minds behind Sónar Music Creativity & Technology Festival in Spain. Sergio has been breaking the mold for 13 years continually, evidenced by the freakishly eye-catching samples of his advertising content provided during his presentation. Such a feat made me wonder what his takes on global trends are, specifically the advent of the “multidisciplinary professional”.

Sergio started by stating that “creation has become tangential”, explaining further that thanks to the ease-of-access to information, people have stopped associating so closely with labels related to specific work fields. Even though he agrees that technology and globalization of information are great tools, he believes that the individual voice of people and nations need to be well defined. This is so true narratives are created, rather than copies of copies of copies, and this is something newer generations struggle with. We ended our conversation on a lighter note, talking about his experiments with creating a ballet piece using only organ sounds and 15 different microphones (definitely took notes on this because it’ll be fun to implement in our office jam sessions).

David del Valle

David del ValleDavid runs the Colombian industrial design studio Tu Taller Design. During his presentation, aside from mind-blowing space and product designs, he shared how at Tu Taller they run the organization as a meritocracy.

This resonated with me, as we run Gorilla Logic in a similar horizontal fashion. It fed my curiosity to find out what David believes are the elements which allow Latin American companies to thrive under such conditions. He basically narrowed it down to 3 words:

  • Thirst: Latin Americans have “the thirst to thrive, […]
  • Hunger: hunger as a yearning to help their families, themselves, and others to get ahead […] It’s that Latin energy of always thinking of others rather than being individualistic or solitary […]
  • Dreams: And dreams because there’s nothing else more intrinsic to Latinos than dreaming […] we’re a race of romantic dreamers and we have to stop trying to say otherwise, on the contrary, it is a strength, not a weakness.”.

I couldn’t agree more with him!

Nicolás Bautista & Diana Zuleta

Nicolás Bautista & Diana Zuleta (1)

Nico and Diana are the founders of Costa Rican creative technology studio The self-determined inventors and passionate problem solvers shared some exceptionally creative work where they brought together geeky gadgetry and traditional media to deliver captivating experiences. In continuing with the theme of the culture and environment in Costa Rica which nurtures innovation, Diana pointed out (and Nico agreed) the fundamental privileges that allow us to develop entrepreneurial mindsets with such ease. These included our access to high-quality education and our peaceful environment, which together make it easy for individuals to dream big and pursue their passions.

They also brought to my attention the fact that, now more than ever, there is a tendency amongst tico professionals to develop enterprises focused on solving, through technology, urban day-to-day problems such as transportation, the improvement of overall quality of life, and the integration of urban spaces with nature in sensible ways.

Daan Roosegaarde

daan_roosegaarde_2_480_720Daan is the brain behind renowned projects such as the glowing Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path and the Smog Free Tower in China. He delighted the audience with the mention of his projects and successes, but also with invaluable nuggets of his many frustrating experiences in bringing his endeavors to fruition.

For example, he spoke about how to deal with the dreaded “yes, but” phrase. Daan and his team found these words to be so detrimental to the development of successful projects that they’ve gone as far as manufacturing a chair for prospective clients to sit on, which would provide an electric shock at the mere mention of the phrase. 

Daan delivered a unique and immersive experience during his presentation, passing around a Ziploc containing one of the first smog samples his Smog-free Tower collected and sharing with us his next big project (which he made us promise not to disclose!) One thing I can say is that it has the promise of becoming a true feat of imagination and technology beyond any frontier you might initially guess.

In speaking directly with Daan, he shared with me his perspective on the shift the world is taking in regards to how we, humans, interact with our surroundings. He described this environment as “George Orwell vs Leonardo Da Vinci,” where basic repetitive jobs from human workforces are replaced with automated servers and robots, yet this brings the opportunity for other human skills to become more prominent such as creative thinking and empathy.

In Summary

Having the opportunity to share some quality time with these great minds was definitely invaluable. It inspired me to see real-world examples of how technology is being used in such creative ways for a wide variety of projects. It gave me insight on how to add even more business value to future code I write and I can confidently say that I will use these experiences and others (which time and word-count limits forbid me from sharing here) to further improve the quality of work we, Gorillas, have become so accustomed to delivering. 

In closing, I’d like to thank the Festival’s press committee. I’ll be excitedly looking forward to attending next year’s FID to keep on sharing the awesomeness within it.

If you have any questions or would like to hear more about my experience at FID, please leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer.

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