Nicaraguan innovator creates job app

Nicaraguan innovator Vanessa Castro

Vanessa Castro’s master’s project “Work” has gone from connecting Colombian users with flexible work opportunities to integrating Torre, an app with one million users worldwide.

By Katherine Estrada Tellez (Confidential)

HAVANA TIMES – The idea started as a Masters project by Vanessa Castro and ended as a business idea that has proven to be both competitive and attractive to investors in Colombia. At 31, the young woman from Managua has made her way into the world of technology and entrepreneurship.

Vanessa Castro completed her undergraduate studies in business administration, then worked for several years in non-profit organizations aimed at stimulating the growth of entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses. “I have always opted for jobs with a social vocation,” she says.

Vanessa traveled to Colombia in 2017, to pursue an MBA program at the University of the Andes. She would never have imagined meeting Ivan Castañeda, who is now her partner. Together they created Job, a platform that has a positive impact on the national labor market.

The birth of Job

Vanessa Castro and Ivan Castañeda, during their participation in the Hult Prize Accelerator 2019 in London. The Hult Prize is a competition where emerging companies prepare to attract investors, network and learn. Courtesy photo

Ivan is a Colombian with experience in the hospitality and food industry. He was well aware of the limitations and weaknesses of the industry, including the difficulty of securing last-minute assistance for high turnover operations.

Vanessa Castro, who had worked with entrepreneurs before, reflected on their needs. “I knew that it would be good for this sector, at the base of the pyramid, to have access to an immediate salary, or to earn additional money,” she recalls.

From conversations between these two professionals, the idea arose to create a digital application that could connect the two parties in a practical and efficient way. “In the same way we call an Uber,” Vanessa explains.

They started to develop the idea in 2018, as part of their master’s thesis. They put the idea through a manual validation process through their social media and found it really had potential. They launched the app to the market in 2019.

It’s like that Job was born. The name of the platform is the French word for “work”, and its objective is to connect people looking for flexible or hourly work, with culinary or hotel companies that need staff for certain periods of time. strong demand. Businesses must be willing to offer immediate payment for work performed.

The platform contains two applications: one for potential employers and the other for applicants. Applicants must register through the platform and then undergo a team verification process. “They detail here their availability and their expected minimum wage,” explains Vanessa.

Once accepted, businesses and registrants can log in as needed.

Working on the radar in Colombia

Thanks to its usefulness, Job has become well accepted in the Colombian labor market. However, Vanessa also adds that they took every opportunity to publicize the candidacy.

“The Colombian system encourages entrepreneurs through activities and gatherings where they award prizes and distinctions. We didn’t let them pass, but we entered with the goal of winning.

This is how their platform began to open doors and gain recognition, validation and publicity. They have won major awards for innovation, such as the Hult Prize and the Global Startup Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In October 2020, the platform won the fourth edition of the Boston Consulting Group and the Yunus Funds Social Start-up Prize in Colombia. Winning this award put Vanessa on the radar of Forbes magazine, which went on to recognize her as one of the hundred most powerful women in Central America or the Dominican Republic.

Of Job To Torre

The Job request to search for vacant jobs is now part of Torre, an employment platform with some 1.5 million users worldwide.

From 2019, Colombian investor and businessman Alexander Torrenegra took an interest in Vanessa and Ivan’s platform. Torrenegra learned about it when he was a judge for the MIT event held in Colombia, which Job ended up winning.

Torrenegra is the creator of Torre platform, which offers remote jobs nationally and internationally, with an infrastructure of 1.5 million users in more than 180 countries.

After almost two years of conversations with Torrenegra, Vanessa and Ivan have decided to be part of Torre, given the larger platform’s global reach and the leverage it offers. The partners have sold their start-up for a sum that Vanessa prefers not to disclose.

“There’s a phrase I like that says, ‘Do you want to be a mouse head or a lion’s tail?’ I prefer the lion’s tail, something that’s going to be a lot bigger. It will grow faster, ”explains Vanessa. At the same time, she notes that the visions of Job and Torre are the same: to help the operational sector to quickly access, both to job offers for job applicants, and to access to job seekers for companies.

After being sold to Torre, Trip is currently off the market while the necessary post-acquisition changes are under development.

Nicaragua – a “canvas” to work on

In April 2020, Vanessa launched a platform called Comarche in Nicaragua with the aim of supporting small and medium-sized businesses in their marketing, helping them to put their markets online. However, this application has not had the same success as Job in Colombia.

“There is still a lot to do inside the country. One of them is openness to the use of credit cards for [online] purchases. There is a lot of fear in using them. Once there is more rapid progress towards this acceptance, we could try again, ”she says.

Vanessa sees Nicaragua as a blank canvas on which a lot could be done, but where you have to find the right time to start investing in projects like this. During this time, she wants to continue learning in the world of tech entrepreneurship and develop professionally before returning to her home country.

Learn more about Nicaragua here on Havana Times.

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