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Starting Up in Cuba Today: Llego a ti, A Caribbean Amazon

Starting Up in Cuba Today: Llego a ti, A Caribbean Amazon

Posted by PanamericanWorld on November 15, 2016

Online shopping is a very common phenomenon around the world, but those services seem to be impossible to materialize in Cuba, since the country lacks of the telecommunication infrastructures required by those services. However, those technological obstacles haven’t stopped entrepreneur Orlando Landrove Gamez, who admits to be fascinated by complex things, and that characteristic made him believe that it is possible to have a sort of ecommerce platform on the island nation, so he created LlegoAti.

Landrove sat down with PanamericanWorld and during the conversation he stressed that his startup shows products of Cuban sellers and artisans. “They post their products and we help them in terms of technological aspects, so the visual platform can be managed and the product gains exposure. That’s why LlegoAti is basically a space we have created for handicrafts and authentically Cuban products, and it also works as a delivery service, so buyers receive their products. It is presently only available in Havana.”

Is this a two-way customer management?

Yes, it is. It targets the one selling the product and the final customer that purchases it by means of our service. We currently have several producers interested in this platform and we provide consultancy, so they post products they regularly have, manage visual elements of the website, among other aspects.

How did the idea come up?

I was surfing the web in 2014 and I understood the way ecommerce works, especially in those websites that offer products by means of pictures and the customers pay for that service. This is an up-to-date service and many people use ecommerce to acquire from toothbrushes to furniture, anything they need. That’s the origin of the idea, because we are not a store or marketing group. We simply advertise a product and, once we have an order, we deliver it to the final customer’s house.

What obstacles have you found on your way to grow?

There are numerous obstacles. I think that the most complex aspect is having things to sell, products to offer. In Cuba we have a market among artisans, artists, most of which are members of the Cultural Goods Fund and the Cuban Association of Artisans Artists. There are products to offer and that’s very positive. Development is not a straight line and it takes some time to go from one side to the next one, but I liked the idea of offering technology by means of websites, apps and a delivery service.

What is the startup’s source of income?

The producers don’t have to pay for using our platform. We only charge the delivery service and a small commission when the product is sold. This is something new and it is very important to know that sellers have the possibility to establish their prices, post photos and advertise their own products. This is a free service, so the advertisements can be showcased on LlegoAti as long as they want and that’s free of charge. We have established a small commission per each product sold by means of our platform.

How do customers use and have access to LlegoAti?

You have to become a user of the website, introduce your name and address, click on the shopping cart and handpick your product. We automatically receive the order. The website lets you have an order record and the more you buy, the more facilities we offer. We also developed an Android app and we are about to launch the iOS version, which are easy to manage and user can see all of our products in an offline mode, so an Internet connection is not required. That app automatically manages the order and facilitates the operation. Moreover, the website allows users to download a pdf catalog with the products available. Both the app and the catalog are updated on a weekly basis on El paquete (The Package), which reaches out to a significant number of people.

Plans for 2017?

We are changing the image and computing platform, so the process of posting products will be a lot easier. Many users have already become familiar with the platform, but the new one is going to be better, with more marketing and advertising options.

Are you planning to go to other provinces?

Sometimes we feel bad because we only deliver in Havana and people from the eastern region of the country ask us the reason why we don’t go there too. We want to be everywhere, but that entails another type of logistics platform and we are not presently ready to offer that. We will try to reach out to other provinces in 2017. We are also looking forward to seeing artisans and self-employed workers increase their production, in terms of amount and variety, so we can enhance our service.

Do you think that LlegoAti is an enterprising project?

Definitely, our project aims at breaking structures in Cuba, thinking out of the box. We are not waiting for all conditions to be created, since we believe that we can already do it and create conditions on the way. If we don’t have an Internet connection, we can create an app that sends SMS and that would be an alternative. The whole process of opening and new opportunities taking place in Cuba is very favorable. We are creating computing products with better features and services.

For the time being, LlegoAti’s user can find shoes, purses, men’s belts, and other Cuban craftworks that are gaining momentum on the island’s ecommerce sphere. It hasn’t reached the level of other projects in Latin America, but it is an authentically Cuban initiative that was born in a virgin market.

Written by Beatriz Rosales - PanamericanWorld / Havana

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