For the past two weeks, Puerto Rican college students Christian Rodriguez and Antonio Tapia Maldonado have been working for Denver based, cloud integration startup, Cloud Elements, as software development interns. They are the first interns to participate in the 'Codetrotters' internship exchange program, founded by Sofia Stolberg of Piloto 151, Puerto Rico's first co-working space.
'Codetrotters' is a growth platform for entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico, in an effort to help develop the Island’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and motivate more programmers to join the startup community, but the program will expand to other cities with under-tapped developer talent pools and underdeveloped ecosystems in the near future.
Check out our interview with interns Christian and Antonio:
What is Codetrotters and how did you get involved?
Christian: The idea behind Codetrotters is to tap into technical/coding resources living in underdeveloped startup ecosystems and at the same time help that ecosystem to improve. Future plans are to expand Codetrotters during the summer to more startups and more interns.
Antonio: I found out about the Codetrotters program through the Association for Computing Machinery student chapter of University Of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
Describe the tech scene in PR.
Christian: The tech scene is very collaborative. It's a growing community with plans to keep growing in the near future. Everyone just wants everyone else to hit it big for Puerto Rico. I think that our biggest strength is that sense of community and patriotism. We all want Puerto Rico to be a better place, and we believe that through tech we can make this happen.
Antonio: Well, I do believe that the tech community in P.R. is definitely collaborative, but the problem is that the scale. It’s much smaller than here in Colorado.
Are there noticeable differences between the two startup communities?
Christian: I had never had the opportunity to work in a startup before. The culture and work ethic can be a little overwhelming, since at the end of the day what's important is how much work you got done, not how many hours you put into work today. I can definitely say that the work ethic here at Cloud Elements is very strong, and I believe it has to do with the fact that everybody loves what they are doing here, which leads to more productive work days.
Antonio: Well my work background is from a BIG company and changing to a startup it is quite the contrast. Working in a startups presents a much more social and relaxed work environment.
What have been doing for Cloud Elements while you have been here?
Christian: I have been working with the Cloud Elements product. Specifically, I've been creating a connector in a variety of programming languages to facilitate developers who want to use Cloud Elements on their own applications. Cloud Elements now has connectors in Python, Ruby and PHP.
What opportunity has Codetrotters given you and Cloud Elements?
Christian: The biggest opportunity Cloud Elements has with this program is to be able to hire and have as a part of their team great programmers who come from underdeveloped tech ecosystems. Finding good programmers can be a hassle, so Codetrotters has helped them in the discovery process and have them try out the programmers (as interns) brought in by Codetrotters
What got you interested in technology?
Christian: I've been interested in tech since high school, but I didn't pursue it until I reached college. I'm currently a Computer Science and Mathematics double major and this has given me an opportunity to expand my interests. Through the startup community in Puerto Rico, some other students and I have had the opportunity to work on side projects and also work with people in industry. These opportunities have definitely helped our interest in tech grow a lot.
What stands out about Denver?
Christian: The weather (just kidding). What has stood out more, at least in my opinion, is the people and the sense of community here in Denver. Everyone has been extremely kind and caring. We've had the opportunity to meet some amazing people during our internship and everyone has been very caring. That sense of community here has made me feel at home.
Where do you see PR's biggest opportunity to grow over the next decade?
Christian: Well, we know for a fact that the talent is there. This is Puerto Rico's biggest opportunity because the community is making a massive movement towards this growth happening. There are a lot of big players moving the pieces so that the startup community in Puerto Rico grows substantially in the next decade, and with the help of other communities (such as Denver) we firmly believe that this will happen.
Antonio: I think Puerto Rico's economic interest are best aimed at the IT entrepreneurial world. Entrepreneurs are smart people that actively hunt down problems to solve. Mix that with some IT and pretty soon Puerto Rico will start to run out of problems to solve.
Thanks Christian and Antonio!
Interested startups can contact [email protected].