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Meet Karla Valdivieso of Kargoo in Costa Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla Valdivieso.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Life Is A Journey: From Digital Dreamer to Travel Entrepreneur

It was while I was at University when I first started to notice that I could get paid to travel. While studying in Ecuador, I would head back to see friends and family in the USA and on my return, I’d bring back art supplies for fellow students on my course. With supplies so much more expensive in Ecuador, I’d fly off with one spare empty bag and come back with enough to make me a tidy sum for the rest of my term.

That was then, and at the time it just seemed like a good way to make a little extra cash to support me. I’d flirted with entrepreneurialism before, like the time I set up a mini babysitting business in Mayland when I was 13. That had been a way to help support my parents after we arrived in the USA from Ecuador, I had just wanted to do my bit.

New Beginnings:
After I graduated, I found myself working for a design agency in Guayaquil. Living in a tiny room where I could make my dinner while in the shower, it just didn’t feel like I was achieving my dream.

So I took a chance, and with the princely sum of $30 in my account I jacked in the job and decided to go solo. Freelance paid for a while, but I quickly realized there was a whole segment of the market I was missing out on. Web design and apps were what most people were looking for.

I decided if I really wanted to achieve my dreams I was going to need to think a bit bigger than doing graphic design. Besides, I was full of crazy ideas, I just needed someone to interpret them and make them a reality. Over the next month, I interviewed about 50 programmers looking for the right one.

There were points when it felt like I was never going to find the right guy. One time I even had a Skype interview with a guy who asked for six months pay up front and had a cow in his living room.

My persistence paid off when I interviewed Carlos, a Colombian living in Brazil. We clicked immediately, and I knew I’d found the coder who could take my ideas and make them happen. We got to work, I would find the clients, work with them to understand their vision and then I’d pass it over to Carlos who seemed to magically create amazing apps and websites.

As our success boomed, we had to find new coders and designers and, in 2014, Komlep was born.

Rise and Fall:
Komlep was designed to help startups develop their product from conception to inception. It had started with me in my boxy rental room and was now helping me to achieve my entrepreneur goals.

We were getting clients from around the world, and soon we were on our way to being one of the biggest digital design agencies in Latin America. I was invited to speak at events and conferences, and I helped to organize the first startup weekend in Ecuador.

Over this time I was working on a whole variety of interesting projects, helping startups to develop their product ideas. At this point, the success of Komlep was built on the fact that we used a popular freelancing platform. We had built a solid reputation and were one of the biggest digital agencies there, so things were going great.

Then in 2016, bought out the platform we were using, and things changed. Suddenly we were competing with other agencies from around the world who could charge much less than we were. The business began to stall and eventually I had to let staff go.

Komlep carried on, but business was slowing so much that I had to look at new ideas. This was an incredibly frustrating time for me, and I didn’t know what to do. I had worked so hard to build something, and it looked like the dream was over. I had a complete mental block and couldn’t work out what to do next.

New Ideas:
As Komlep as a design and development agency began to fall apart, I started to search for new ideas.

One day I was reading the news, and I saw that coffee growers in Colombia had been given new powers to export their product directly. For many years, coffee growers had been dealing with exporters who had bought their beans very cheaply, slapped a brand on them and shipped them around the world for a huge profit.

But the problem for the Colombian growers was that they didn’t know how to market themselves and they didn’t have the infrastructure in place to ship their product.

We began work on a platform that helps the coffee growers to brand and market their coffee beans and sell them directly to consumers around the world. It seemed like an excellent idea. With the wireframe outlined, we contacted a local shipping firm, but that’s where the plan fell apart. The shipping cost was three times the price of the product!

That plan died before it had started and I was back to the drawing board. I spend the next year racking my brains, trying to come up with that Eureka moment that would save my business plans.

During that time I’d noticed that often new businesses would fail and I couldn’t work out why. It dawned on me that it was due to a lack of understanding by the business owners of their target market, perhaps through a lack of research. We had seen many times a business owner would come up with an idea and rush to get it started but didn’t even what problem they were trying to solve.

With minimal research and development, most agencies would just listen to what the client wanted and build it. It didn’t matter to them if the business failed. We realized that if we could sit down with the client, conduct research and understand the viability of the whole project, we could ensure a more solid foundation for success. And that is how the Komlep Product Factory was born.

Finding Myself:
I decided to take a break and go and ‘find myself.’ My thinking was that clearing my head would help me to come back with some fresh ideas. Myself and some friends found some cheap flights to Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, and San Francisco and booked them, all for $500. But on arrival at the airport, it turned out our bargain flight was too good to be true.

Extra fees were piling up, and soon it was looking like it was going to double our flight cost. I was getting worried that they were going to make us pay extra for the air onboard too, but what could I do?

I kept saying to myself, ‘travel before you run out of time,’ but the truth is it looked like I was going to run out of money before we even started. During that first flight, I started to play with some ideas about how to make traveling pay you. I jotted down a project wireframe on the back of a sick bag, surely the birthplace of some of the world’s best ideas.

When we touched down, I ran a test. I posted on all my social media channels that I was in the States and that I could bring back products to friends and followers in Ecuador. Two hours later and I had 50 requests, and I had made $2,200.

My Eureka moment had arrived. Like my art supplies experiments back when I was at University, it would be the same thing but for a global network. I knew that in South America many things are much more expensive than they are in the USA, but equally that there are things that are hard to find in the States that I could have bought with me.

Even our failed coffee shipping experiment had taught me that I was onto a winning idea here. I could offer the platform to pair up suppliers, and travelers with luggage space for less than DHL or UPS were charging. After all, who wouldn’t want to make some extra money just for taking a journey you were taking anyway?

I gave Carlos my wireframe idea, and we got started on the plan that would eventually become Kargoo.

Peer to Peer Travelling:
The world has become a much smaller place now thanks to affordable travel and the internet, and it seemed obvious to me that logistics is one area that needed the next big shakeup. And why not make use of the opportunities afforded by the movement of so many people around the world?

Today, based out of California, Kargoo is making it easier for thousands of travelers to pay for their trips, and for others to get hold of cheaper products. No more paying expensive shipping fees!

We’ve been thrilled by the growth of Kargoo, with many sign-ups in North and South America. But the aim is to take it to the next level and become the fastest and most reliable human delivery system in the world.

Has it been a smooth road?
Success is not a smooth road, otherwise, it would be attainable by everyone. When building Kargoo, I encountered a few people that told me I was not going to make it or that Kargoo was a terrible idea and many other negatives opinions. Once someone “advised” me to not pitch Kargoo to Venture Capitals, instead to ask them if they would be willing to invest in a brown woman.

In the beginning, I used to go to startup events, and soon I realized there was no magical Go-to-plan to build a successful Startup, but every experience is different, so I decided to just concentrate on the One Thing and make my own and unique plan. I move to LA ten months ago, leaving my family and friends behind. But in the end, it’s all worth it. I am changing the world one delivery at the time.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kargoo – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Startup company disrupting a $200 Billion global logistics industry. Kargoo allows you to buy products from any store and ship them in travelers’ spare luggage space. Kargoo, a creative new app for iOS and Android smartphones, is set to revolutionize buying and shipping products.

The peer to peer app connects shoppers and travelers. Shoppers are able to purchase products not available in their country or too expensive to purchase locally. Kargoo eliminates the logistical nightmare and sky-high shipping costs that many people incur when ordering from abroad. The app not only delivers products to shoppers but gives travelers a way to make extra money when traveling.

The dynamic app works in a similar way to world-famous accommodation booking website Airbnb. However, users do not share rooms – rather they share their unused luggage space to provide delivery of items obtained through any online or physical store in the world. Founded by the avid traveler, Karla Valdivieso, Kargoo aims to be the most reliable, fastest, and most human delivery service in the world.

Shoppers are able to request products from stores around the world by creating a product order and receiving delivery offers from travelers heading the shopper’s way. The shopper is able to accept a traveler and secures the order by paying for the order in the Kargoo system. Kargoo holds the payment until the traveler completes the delivery.

Travelers post their upcoming trip and send delivery offers to shoppers within their budget. The traveler is notified they have been selected and can safely buy the product. After the traveler delivers the product, they receive payment from Kargoo.

I am focused on the future of shared cities through sustainable development via emerging markets and sharing economy.

-Founded KOMLEP Product Factory
-Startup Weekend Ecuador Organizer
-Member of Global Shapers
-Eight years experience UX/ UI Designer
-Eight years experience Product Manager
-Eight years of business manager

What makes Kargoo different for others:
I am very proud of the safety we provide for our Shoppers, and Travelers like no other similar startup company has been able to do it. We developed Machine Learning so we can provide a 5-star delivery experience.

We also have a fair business model: Affordable for Shoppers and higher earnings for Travelers.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
– Business opportunities
– Creative atmosphere
– Open minded individuals
– Startups
– Perfect weather
– Different cultures in one place
– Rugged mountains and national parks

– Traffic
– Natural disasters

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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