Thursday, July 31, 2008

3 million entrepreneur relocators?

US News & World Report published an interesting article, "A Growing Trend of Leaving America" stating that over 3 million Americans move overseas every year.

They also highlight that "1.6 million U.S. households had already determined to relocate abroad; an additional 1.8 million households were seriously considering such a move, while 7.7 million more were "somewhat seriously" contemplating it."

The article focuses specifically on the fact that many now move and become entrepreneurs.

Some quotes from the article struck a chord with me. For example when talking about his move to Panama, one young entrepreneur says an attraction "is the chance to get into some kind of market first.", "more room for error." and the opportunity to "make mistakes without being put under." Another says, "I couldn't have opened this type of business in the States, here there's no one competing against me."

I think those reasons hit home for many of us who have already taken the plunge for whatever reason. Thinking about my own business, those same reasons make my list. Now with the US economy going into recession and prices of gas and food rising, my guess is that more and more of those "seriously considering" a move abroad will pull the trigger.

My prediction is that Central and South America along with Eastern Europe will draw the most. In general, the cost of living is relatively low, the economies are growing and the cultural divide is more manageable than China, India or SE Asia. As for South America, I think Buenos Aires will lead the way. Brazil is by far the economic elephant down here, but the strong real and the reputation for crime in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will keep many looking for alternatives. Santiago, Chile, may be a contender... they have a business friendly environment and are seen as a shining example of what can be accomplished when the government doesn't trip over itself. However, I don't think the dollar takes you nearly as far as in BA though that advantage may not last too much longer.

Do you think Buenos Aires will see an influx of entrepreneur relocators? What would be your reasons for, or for not, picking Buenos Aires?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome SOB'ers

Welcome new readers from the Second Official Successful-Blog Blog-to Show. If you found means you got all the way to 234 out of the 260 blog submissions. Congratulations! You are very persistent! I perused the show and added a couple blogs to my google reader. I was hoping BA would be the most obscure location...but in my opinion, the blogger in New Guinea won that a lot. Looks very cool!

A quick introduction: My name is Jonathan and I run an online tutoring company called Tutor Amigos. We tutor Math, Science and English to students who speak Spanish. "Up-Starts, Buenos Aires" is the lastest meta-morphisis of my blog. In general the blog covers the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur in a foreign location, basic start-up problems and of course, special emphasis is given to education. I also take special interest in anyone doing the start-up thing abroad and do my best to highlight them here. Do you know of any international start-ups who deserve some attention? Drop me a line and we can send them some blog love. They can be for-profit, non-profit, name it. You don't need twenty post stamps to send a care package any more!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taste Tests

Last Saturday we went to the Caminos y Sabores Expo, a convention of over 300 producers of cheese, meats, sweets, olive oil, beverages and so on from all over Argentina. Last year producers from 23 different provinces came and over 62,000 people attended the expo. Given the uncertainty of farmer protests now a days, this seemed like an excellent way to get a taste of what Argentina has to offer without the risk of getting stuck at a roadblock out in the boonies.

The thing I love most about expos are the taste tests. Taste tests are fun! This expo helped me figure out so many things like: how creamy I like my dulce de leche, what type of cookie I prefer in an alfajor, or even try things I would never actually buy...

like jarred racoon...

hmm...Needless to say, the jarred raccoon did not make it to my personal shopping list. Nor any jarred woodchuck, for fear of giving my parents any ideas for their elusive garden marauder.

Here is what did make it home:

We bought sheep cheese (hard, plain and a semi-hard, smoked) and a one kilo tub of dulce de leche, produced in the La Pampa province. Basil flavored olive oil from Cordoba, another (very creamy) dulce de leche from Salta, and Alfajores de maicena (the cookie in the corner) from Buenos Aires province.

All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

What's the strangest animal you ever ate? Have any Expos you can recommend?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Facebook Friends

To me, mixing one's business and personal life is probably akin to mixing a molotov cocktail...something you better do very carefully. I've read the articles about HR recruiters trolling MySpace and Facebook looking for those embarrassing photos of their applicants. But if one is conscious of the fact that if it's on the internet, it's going to be found...there must be value in shaking it up a bit, especially for entrepreneurs who need every bit of noise to get the word out about their business and the fact that they are entrepreneurs.

I admit, I'm a novice at this. I think the Japanese part of me which has learned that self deprecating modesty is a virtue, has not helped me prepare for this role.
This blog, for example, is my first toe dip into this area. I chose to add a bit of personal flair to this blog recently for two basic reasons... First is readership. (which with a blog is pretty important) By adding some personal perspectives, opinions and etc...I'm reaching out to family and friends, to keep them up to date on what is happening with me; both professionally and "locationally". These may be topics that we don't communicate on this is a nice way of keeping them informed (and reading) of events or thoughts that I probably won't go out of my way to convey with a phone call or email.

Second, by keeping the topics varied, I'm also enjoying writing more..and I think it will reflect in an increase in general readership over time. Posts become more regular, people are intrigued about what will happen next...readers subscribe to the feed (hint, hint) etc.

This being said...where is that line between personal and professional life? Today I was invited by a business in Buenos Aires to be their "friend" through facebook. When I started checking out this business's friends..I saw mixed in with actual people, they had lots of other business's as their friends.

I don't like the idea of friending people I don't know with my personal facebook account. Even though now, one can grant people only limited access to profile information. For me, even this is not enough.

Although it's quite obvious this should have been done a while ago, now Tutor Amigos is on Facebook. If you want to help me out, click below and be a friend. Because online tutoring in math, science and English is not yet the coolest, hip thing...your friendship will help Tutor Amigos not look like the four-eyed geek you knew in high school.

How do you balance your mix of business and personal life online? Is it as hard as it looks?

Friday, July 4, 2008

The local spirit

One of the almost inevitable attractions in Argentina is the wine. Two founders whose acquaintance I've made over the last couple of months, are doing their parts to help spread the news and the bottles in their own ways. Anuva Vinos and 0800 Vinos.

Last month, Daniel from Anuva Vinos invited a bunch of us over for a guy's night out which included a private wine tasting. We were introduced to a carefully selected range of boutique wines, wines not only off the radar internationally, but also unavailable at the local wine store here! We started with a wonderful Spumante..much less known than the infamous Malbec..but then we ventured down that road where there were some real winners. My favorites were the Ikella Malbec, 2006 and the Don Juan Blend, 2004. These selections are available through their wine club where all one has to do is subscribe and have these wines delivered to your home in the US and Europe. In all, not the typical guy's night out, and exactly why I enjoy living in Buenos Aires.

Last night we got a last minute invite to a tasting at Nigel's 0800 Vinos. Nigel is an expat sommelier adding value in the local market by creating a wine delivery service.

Local delivery of just about everything is commonplace here in BA. Looking at the magnets on my refrigerator, I can get ice cream, empanadas, chinese food, fresh pasta, fresh seafood, sushi, pizza, groceries, rental dvds, even my laundry...there really is no reason to leave my apartment if I don't feel like it.

0800 Vinos seized upon this trend and is introducing local wine delivery. Instead of fumbling through the super market shelves...why not call and have the wine delivered to your home for the same price? Besides just the convenience, 0800's adds value by providing useful information on their website with food pairings, broken down by price levels, wine origins and will also be creating their own reviews. If that's not enough, you can even speak to the sommelier directly which I will find particularly valuable the next time I'm in the market for a higher priced wine for that special occasion.

So there you have it. Whether you are looking for unique, boutique wines or looking for a greater appreciation of what the locals drink...each has something for you.

Do you know of other good resources to taste and learn about wine?