The business ecosystem in Panama is not only limited to the travel industry, real estate or bank sectors. Over the past five years, a new generation of entrepreneurs have transformed the country’s economy and boosted such fields as technology and knowledge. Angel investors, business incubators, mentors and entrepreneurs have built an innovation hub and test field that is gaining momentum as a benchmark to the rest of Latin America, especially in terms of startup ecosystems. This reality has been undoubtedly backed up by the growing number of governmental initiatives through the Micro, Small and Medium Company Authority (Ampyme is the Spanish acronym) and the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (Senacyt is the Spanish acronym). Such academic centers as the Technological University of Panama (TUP) offer excellent teaching programs and private organizations like the Knowledge City Innovation Center have focused their actions on boosting entrepreneurship.
The aim of Panamanian startups is set on innovation and they have a global way of thinking that helps them reach out to other markets and gain access to more important investment rounds. According to startup specialists, that expansive mind is the key to having bigger growth prospects and viability in an ecosystem characterized by the high level of failures. The growing importance of startups in Panama is perceived in the interest in providing more opportunities for entrepreneurs and accompanying them through different stages: from encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit with fairs and invitations to create contact networks to guiding them into a new business culture based on transversal leaderships, collaboration with other companies and global scope. We have chosen 10 Panamanian startups that have stood out over the past months for their level of innovation, originality and capacity to gain access to funding rounds and viability.
MapTasking was founded by Vittorio Calcagno, Oscar A. Diaz, Joao Fernandez and Alfredo Dager. They have developed a system that facilitates the management of in situ tasks. Their tool works 100 percent offline and it is a low-battery-consuming app. Users can send missions to workers in a remote location. Maptasking monitors that task until it is done, by connecting all points and delivering relevant pieces of information to every part of the process. MapTasking helps cable operators, telephone or internet supplying companies guarantee the fulfillment of their technicians’ appointments in a faster way (it usually takes several hours for traditional operators), because the app provides the information required to be aware of final users’ availability.
Tutorez is a platform that identifies and facilitates a group of tutors, which comprise several academic fields, for parents looking for review lessons for their children. Alejandro Carbonell, its creators, was taking a business management master’s degree in Barcelona. He used to received several calls and messages at the time from relatives and friends who were looking for tutors that could help their children study, depending on the hours and subjects. That was the origin of the idea of creating an app to provide this information.
Archimesa software is supposed to revolutionize the real estate business. Architect Monica Chavarria Reyes and her husband Val Dess, a videogame programmer, combined their knowledge, put their savings together and founded the company, which merges mobile technology and real estate in three-dimensional spectrums. The real estate market has welcomed this software with open arms. On the touch screen of a smartphone or tablet, people interested in buying an apartment can rotate the building from any angle and take a closer look at its details with up-to-date info in terms of space, price and availability.
ASAP is a courier service app that connects people with messengers in Panama City. The service allows users to receive and send packages 24/7, throughout the year. Its action capacity allows users from buying a present or medicine to receiving food. The app is easy to use and users can directly pay by using a card.
Etyalab is the startup founded by Susana Lau and Maria Luisa Carrion in 2015. They have created Mercadito, an app for smartphones or tablet (running Android OS) that work as a virtual market to sell/buy food. After graduating at the TUP, they were granted a Fullbright scholarship and got their master’s degree in Information Technologies at the Carnegie Mellon University. After their return to the country, they founded this software development company, EtyaLab, which means ‘evolve, transform and advance’. The idea is to work with other companies interested in creating or improving mobile apps or websites by using the SCRUM system, which entails working for short periods, so customers can measure the results in real time and introduce modifications during the development of the project.
Workings Latam is the main shared workspace in Panama. Whether you are a freelance professional or you are building a startup, Workings Latam offers state-of-the-art rand functional office spaces, both private and shared spaces, which are open 24/7. Its halls feature fast Internet, meeting rooms and a contact network in the business ecosystem of Panama.
Degusta is Panama’s most complete restaurant guidebook. The app is simple: it allows users look for restaurants by their name or cuisine, and offers classifications and reviews. With a wide array of cultures and cuisine styles, Degusta was born as a practical service to guarantee that its users can enjoy a good culinary experience by reading opinions and reviews issued by other people.
Media Rank is an analytic service for influencers and brands that helps them take marketing decisions based on recently-collected statistics. The systems allow user to measure the audience, efficiency and investment return of a campaign, by assessing pieces of information that are updated every 60 minutes.
La Media is an entertainment and contents agency that began as a Facebook page and presently has over half a million followers. It is specialized in funny videos, recipes and news, as well as brand content. La Media introduced the viral video concept in Panama and it is vertiginously growing as a successful media center for brands.
Criptext is a plugin that allows Gmail and Outlook users to recover their emails and encrypt their messages. This is one of the strongest competitors of such instant messaging giants as Whatsup or Telegram. According to Forbes, Criptext is one of the most influential Central American technological companies and it is presently collaborating with some important multinational companies. Its founder, Panamanian entrepreneur Mayer Mizrachi, was in jail in Colombia and, after his extradition, he is not allowed to travel abroad since he was involved in a weird case that has triggered internal divisions in his own country. The Anti-Corruption District Attorney’s Office in Panama accuses him of having obtained public money without having provided the service he was asked by the Panamanian government (his company was contacted to get some safe and private messaging licenses for governmental employees, based on Criptext’s technology), but Mizrachi and his company have proven that the service (with impact on national security for messaging encoding) was provided indeed.