GSEA Studentpreneur Camilo Salinas: Entrepreneur first, business after

At EO, we’re committed to helping entrepreneurs at every stage achieve their full potential. One way we encourage and support young entrepreneurs is through the EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), EO’s premier competition for college and university students who own and operate a business. The competition culminates with the Global Finals―held virtually this year―where “studentpreneurs” from 38 countries competed and connected with both seasoned entrepreneurs and their fellow competitors. Camilo Salinas of Colombia, founder of Residia, was awarded the 2021 GSEA third-place prize of US$5,000. We asked Camilo about his entrepreneurial journey. Here’s what he shared:

Describe your company.

Residia is a community management platform for residential complexes and condominiums. It’s a multiplatform application with over 15 functionalities to facilitate internal processes and ensure effective communication in residential communities.

What inspired you to start your business?

My dad was the main inspiration. Residia’s objective of bringing neighbors together and helping ease the management of gated communities came to my mind while watching my dad struggling with the management of his own residential complex.

Were there specific factors or events in your childhood that inspired you toward entrepreneurship?

Yes. Since I was little, I was always looking to build things. For much of my life, I believed that I should’ve studied architecture or civil engineering―literally building things! But then I came across the video game Minecraft where, from nothing more than my tenacious passion, I built my first venture: a Minecraft community that I converted into a business. That experience taught me that I could build things in other ways, so that’s how I came to study Computer Science.

During my last year of school, I took a class called “Business,” where each student proposed a business idea and created a business plan around it. It was one of the only practical classes that I took in school, and I found what I learned to be eye-opening.

Tell us about your GSEA journey.

I imagine that other competitors discover the competition by a referral, or maybe they are motivated by their mentors or network to join. For me, it was totally different. One day in November 2020, I was scrolling through Facebook, and a wild ad appeared, announcing GSEA Bogota. I thought, “Meh. I have no opportunity to win even the local competition.” So, I skipped it. But the wild ads keep appearing all over my social media until I decided to apply.

When I was selected for the local finals, I was hyped about it, but I expected two or three local judges that nobody knew. However, I met and pitched my business to people that I follow on social media as business role models. What an incredible experience!

What were your takeaways from the virtual GSEA Global Finals?

One of my main takeaways was that I’m not alone―that entrepreneurs around the world suffer and are challenged by the same things as me. I remember with special appreciation how insightful the Forum session was for me. As entrepreneurs, it’s difficult to find someone to hear us and understand what’s going on in our lives; Forum was a place where I felt totally understood.

As for the virtual aspect, I liked how well-prepared and polished the whole experience and event was. I was able to connect with people around the world and get to know them. I saw many skills and abilities from my fellow competitors that I’m now trying to learn and incorporate in my life as an entrepreneur. I appreciate that the virtual world lets me spend a bit more time with them. But at the same time, I miss the opportunity of getting to know them in the real world.

How was your experience in GSEA different from other business pitch competitions you’ve participated in?

“Entrepreneur first, business after.” That phrase defines GSEA, and I love it! It was a journey where I was able to introspect on who I was and why I do what I’m doing. To be sincere, it was tough! But at the same time, really awesome because I never thought about those things before.

What would you share about GSEA with student entrepreneurs considering entering the competition?

Apply to GSEA NOW! Don’t hesitate to do it―you’ll learn a lot from it. Focus on yourself and try to shine with your uniqueness.

How will being a GSEA winner impact your business?

GSEA already impacted my business. I’ve received leads due to the competition that will soon become my customers.

We’re going to invest the prize money mainly on two things, paying someone to help us with sales in Mexico and creating content for our marketing strategy.

What are your plans to evolve your business in the future?

We’re launching a freemium version of our app where we’re openly testing new functionality and trying to create a referral method similar to Clubhouse. That’s for the near future.

In the next three years, our goal is to have 10,000 residential complexes using Residia to optimize their internal processes and improve their community life.

Read about past GSEA competitors and learn why Emmy Award-winning documentarians focused their lens on five GSEA student entrepreneurs.

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