Four Cuban entrepreneurs talk about the key to their business success
From left to right, Robin Pedraja, Luis Manuel Mazorra, Hiram Centelles and Elio Héctor López. Photo taken from Luis Manuel Mazorra’s Facebook profile.
Four of the most outstanding Cuban entrepreneurs gave a talk on Thursday in Barcelona, Spain, to explain to the public how their businesses work and their aspirations and plans for the near future.
Robin Pedraja, Vistar Magazine; Elio Hector Lopez "The Transporter" from El Paquete Semanal (the Weekly Package); Luis Manuel Mazorra, CiberCuba; and Hiram Centelles from Revolico agree that they want to open offices and consolidate their businesses on the island, as soon as the government allows.
Most pay taxes in the countries where they are established -Revolico and CiberCuba in Spain and Weekly Package in Cuba and provide employment to several people in both countries.
Vistar Magazine employs 23 persons; CiberCuba, 16 and is uncountable the number of people who make their living on the island selling the Weekly Package.
“There are people in Miami who make their living selling things on Revolico," said Centelles to prove the social impact of his business. He bought a laptop thanks to the site, he made the request and payment to people in Miami and the laptop was given to his mother in Havana.
Revolico hopes the Government to unlock the site
Revolico, Cuban classifieds portal, emerged in December 2007 when two friends, one in Cuba and one in Spain, noted the importance of black or alternative market on the island and the lack of a space to extend such transactions throughout the country.
If still there is limited internet access in Cuba, 10 years ago it was practically nil, but the need pushed users to seek ways to enter Revolico and within months increased the number of visitors, said the computer engineer Hiram Centelles.
Its success has come with great efforts, especially to avoid censorship of the Cuban government. "I do not know why they blocked it, or when they will unlock. They have unlocked other sites," said Centelles with a desire tone, and added that the obstacles to Revolico began in March 2008, a few months after open.
However, nothing has stopped them. Revolico is one of the most viewed sites in Cuba, with 50% of traffic from within. It also has 9 million page views per month and registered 25,000 ads daily, shared Centelles.
Revolico team has managed to make its business profitable by selling advertising and recently has added a new service: charge a fee to users who want their ad automatically renew after a specified time.
Vistar Magazine negotiates its printing in Cuba
Robin Pedraja, director of Vistar Magazine, an entertainment and culture magazine, said he is in negotiations with the International Press Center right now to print the publication in Cuba, as an institution, and open a bureau in Havana.
Pedraja decided to create Vistar a year ago, when he perceived the lack of such publications in Cuba and the need of a space to advertise for new businesses and emerging artists.
"The magazine is a reflection of a generation that has different tastes, that's why I liked it," said Pedraja, graduated from the Institute of Design in Cuba.
Vistar employs a team of 23 people including reporters, photographers and designers. Many of its journalists alternate work in the magazine with positions in the national media.
"It takes a lot of money to update the magazine daily" Pedraja said, explaining that they charge businesses or artists who want to promote themselves by photography and design services.
The young director took the opportunity to share statistics showing the success of his business which reaches 4 million people per month, receives 5 million hits monthly and monthly edition in pdf reaches 50,000 downloads. All this without include their consumers through the Weekly Package. "Without the package it would be impossible the success of Vistar", he said.
CiberCuba wants to be "the digital voice of Cubans”
CiberCuba site was dormant for several years until November 2014 when Luis Manuel Mazorra and his team relaunched it with "a more social approach," he said. They currently have 10 employees in Spain; 6 in Cuba and several contributors in Germany and the United States.
CiberCuba functions as an aggregator of content, but also produce original material and have no qualms about playing political issues, either from Granma and CubaDebate than from Marti Noticias or 14ymedio said Luis Manuel Mazorra during his exhibition.
Their plans are ambitious: they seek the attention of the Cuban people inside and outside the island, regardless of the difference of preferences and interests. For that they have created sections of news, sports, music videos and Cuban business directory in collaboration with Cuban businessmen.