Based in California and Washington, The Disruptive Factory is an initiative that, since 2017 supports and helps using technology for other companies to achieve effectively the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve this, five women who believed in the importance of promoting different types of technology around the world got together.
Natalia Olson-Urtecho is the co-founder of The Disruptive Factory. For this entrepreneur, the ecosystem created by Barcelona Tech City is a great space of collaboration for people to feel free and to share between them, sell among them, which is very important. For her that is a model worth to replicate in other latitudes.
Collaboration as a development pillar
There’s a lot of technologies, especially in Silicon Valley, that are trying to figure out how to help the environment, how to build inclusivity, how to communicate, how to create good transportation systems, how to figure out ways to help world. “So, we work with angel investors and VCs, and we’re trying to promote these technologies across the world. So, we advise them with their financial, aim them to achieve the next pilot, and we help them the grow”. This enthusiasm for generating different cooperation levels boosts and accelerating development in different companies.
Entrepreneurship is a learning process
Starting a company from an idea, project or conviction is the first step of every entrepreneur. However, is a fact that not always it’s a success when you try. “I am an entrepreneur before anything, and entrepreneurship for me has been since the beginning, since I was a small kid. I worked every summer in my grandfather’s hardware store and I loved to make money, so I always have been able to balance between work, and starting a company, or studying and starting a company, or figuring out ways that I can help someone start a company”. For Olson, one of the most important things about entrepreneurship is the learning process.
Entrepreneurship is about losing fear of failure
Many times, one of the biggest obstacles that an entrepreneur faces are the negativity and the lack of trust from the people around them. “I actually started a company when I was in college, when I came to the US to study, and everyone kept telling me «no, it’s not possible», «that’s a crazy idea», «it’s never going to work», and actually that was a challenge”. However, being young and determined didn’t stop her didn’t stop her, she kept going even if failure were there. For Natalia, failing, especially in the US, is not a problem at all, is an opportunity to get up and start all over again.
After the failing in her first company as well as and second one, she decided to build a new one, not firstly without understanding that she needed mentors before to start again. Looking out capable people to guide the process. On her next try she was better prepared and advised, merely resulted that her new company had a completely different approach.
A good idea is not enough to generate the desired impact
Natalia decided to focus her efforts on sustainable transportation and energetic alternatives, a topic that weren’t at the top mind of people: ecological edification. However, it wasn’t simple at all. Becoming planning inspector and zone division for the city of Philadelphia, she had in mind only to approve ecological solutions. “People weren’t happy with it, builder were installed on their customs, so I turned abruptly on education. In how to educate consumers, how to educate legislators to be able to understand that green buildings were better for the future, for our children and the air quality”.
So, with this new perspective, she and a group of colleagues started a movement, creating a green economy that helped introduce other industries and products to the market. It was a balance between public policies, government and business. The challenge was to find a way for all of them to have alternative energies and sustainable products.
The challenges for entrepreneurs, especially for women
“When we see other cultures in the world, I think women in general should stop apologizing, they should start by saying «yes, I can», «yes, I can move forward and find founding», «yes, I can move forward and build a company», «yes, I can combine my family with a business and everything else that I have to do»”. Those aren’t just challenges, are opportunities.
The differences between generations sometimes play against when conceiving business is about. Improve the communication between «Millennials» and those who have been decades of experience in business areas where you want to start a business is the biggest challenge. What they need to do is include the idea of changing the status quo, changing the culture, changing the way people imagine new generations, young entrepreneurs”. The dialogue between new generations will help to improve the entrepreneurship process.
“When we look the companies and the transformation from being entrepreneur was 20 years ago and what it is an entrepreneur today, we see lots of companies, young companies: the Googles of the world started only 20 years ago”. This makes people think about how is going to be design the next Microsoft, Facebook or Google into an ecosystem that doesn’t suffocates, but can guide them. For many people it’s an impossible idea, that’s exactly what the challenge is about.