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The business model that made Facebook a household name doesn’t work in Colombia, a technology entrepreneur said Wednesday.

US-based tech entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra, a prolific start-up founder and investor in the tech sector, told Colombia Reports that Colombian tech investment would have to follow a different path to that found in the world capital of tech entrepreneurship: Silicon Valley, USA.

“One of the problems Colombia and other countries outside the US have is that they are trying to copy the Silicon Valley model,” he said.

The Silicon Valley model is where entrepreneurs have an idea, a product and a company, then get some money from investors and give out some equity (a part of the company in the form of shares). Eventually, they take their company public or they sell the company to someone big – then they cash out, take the money and keep going.”

“That sort of model doesn’t really exist here in Colombia and nobody in the world really knows what that alternative model is going to be.”

In contrast to Silicon Valley, there are no large technology companies in Colombia that can buy start-ups and develop their ideas into fully fledged businesses. There are barriers to taking companies public.

This is a stumbling block for Medellin in particular, which is styling itself as the Silicon Valley of Latin America.

MORE: ‘Espacio’ for growing businesses in Medellin

Torrenegra said that emerging economies all over the world are looking for an alternative model and Colombia might just be the place it comes from.

MORE: Bogota entrepreneurs stress need to improve start-up ecosystem

“Colombia has a large population with a good skill base. Medellin, in particular, has a culture of entrepreneurship. The Colombian government has also being trying to push this, as they see this as part of growing the economy,” he said.

Sources:

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