From the geo-spatial space down: From Colombia to Singapore

Angela Diaz Labrador  (Business Developer and Sales Manager) of ST Engineering Geo-Insights, share more about her journey from Colombia to Singapore, and how she is looking to build business connections in Latin America from Singapore by bringing geo-spatial imagery to the region 

Tell us abit about yourself Angela!

My name is Angela Diaz Labrador, Colombian working for ST Engineering Geo-Insights, a global technology company from Singapore, which offers geospatial solutions and information products based on satellite imagery.

I am currently responsible for the business development, marketing, and sales of the company for Latin America and others in Asia and Africa, focusing on industries such as agriculture, maritime safety, and environment. I am in charge of managing the portfolio of clients in these regions and strengthening the company’s strategic alliances.

I am trained in Industrial Engineering from the Pontifica Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, with an MBA in business management from FGV Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil.

What is Geo-Insights? Why is Geo-Insights interested in expanding to Latin America?

Geo-Insights is a Joint Venture or strategic partnership between ST Engineering and DSO Labs, two Singaporean companies that came together to provide information and value-added services based on geo-spatial technology with applications for different industries such as the energy sector, infrastructure , maritime industry, agriculture and solutions for environmental sustainability and reduction of carbon for resource optimization.

The interest in expanding to Latin America arises from the success achieved with recent applications developed within the company for the Agriculture, Maritime Industry and Environmental Sustainability sectors. We believe that agriculture is a crucial activity for the development of Latin America, a resource-rich region with the potential to become a major provider of food security for the world, optimizing its resources and contributing to better qualities in the product and therefore in the quality of life of its inhabitants. The largest crops in size per hectare are found in tropical regions and our solution accelerates the development of productivity, competitiveness, and quality of crops.

The company also has solutions to increase maritime safety. We know that fish production in Latin America is one of the highest in the world, and it is important to ensure the security of the food supply. This can be done through the detection of suspicious vessels to reduce illegal activities and ensuring the integrity of the area.

In terms of the environment, Geo-Insights have developed solutions for the automatic and real-time monitoring of forest fires, deforestation, and changes in the surface of natural resources. Thus, the entities in charge of the protection ofthe environment, such as the Amazon Forest and forest reserves will be able to quickly identify the place, the time of the fire and the size of the affected area and act promptly. Likewise, having its own reports at the country level to facilitate monitoring and contribute to the reduction of global warming and climate change.

What do you think are the main differences between working in Latin America and Asia?

Based on my experience, I perceive that in Asia teamwork is a pillar. It gives them strengths in their business operation and decision-making. The setting of clear objectives and their achievement processes helps increase efficiency. That work philosophy where solutions and decision-making are developed together results in minimizing failures and celebrating team successes.

In Latin America, once the objectives are set, creativity is developed from the flexibility of operation.

A basic strength of the Latin culture is its ability to adapt quickly to achieve one’s objectives. This is further substantiated by imaginative ideas which at times might be out of the box.

My advice for other Latin American or Asian startups is in relation to sociocultural behaviors is that knowing that what works for one culture may not necessarily work for the other. The main axis for communication is to be sincere, respectful and thoughtful so as to achieve a win-win perspective.

According to you, how has the entrepreneurship space changed in Colombia and Latin America in general since the last five years?

New generations of Colombians are characterized by taking the difficulties they faced, devising solutions, and implementing these innovations to take advantage of the skills and strengths of each of its members.

In Colombia, new entrepreneurs are provided with business training, benefits in tax rates and tax incentives with the aim of reducing the unemployment rate and boosting the economy.

Latin America is the place where more is being undertaken in the world. Venture capital funds are looking to Latin America as a potential place to invest. Colombia, for example, is leading the attraction of capital as a result of many unicorns coming up from the country/

On the other hand, the pandemic awakened ingenuity and creativity, or in some cases revolutionizing the way business is conducted.

Entrepreneurship has changed considerably, in Colombia for example the rate of entrepreneurial activity increased by more than 30% in the last 2 years according to the study of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). This is also due to the growing socio-cultural acceptance towards business creation. Nowadays it is much more viable to undertake and start your own business as there are a lot of financial support, and programs to encourage and support the entrepreneur. The most important thing is to be clear about the value proposition and bring innovations to today’s businesses.

What are the innovations that ST Engineering Geo-Insights is bringing to Latin America

For the agriculture sector, ST Engineering geo-insights offers analytics to measure from geospatial technologies the state of crop health, plant moisture, and indicators of NPK macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium with satellite images. The first two analytics are already on the market and we have since developed NPK macronutrient indicators to help supplement our technology by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques. This then help farmers increase the productivity and quality of their crop and quickly identify (every 5 days) areas with nutritional deficiencies and apply fertilizers objectively only in areas where it is needed. This solution contributes to the reduction of costs and the homogenization of batches to achieve uniformed production.

ST Engineering Geo-Insights is the first in the world to develop this solution and we expect many producers to adopt precision agriculture technologies to increase the performance and competitiveness of their companies.

What are the opportunities you see for Latin American startups in Asia, and Asian startups in Latin America

From both points of view, whether Latin American or Asian, the range of products and services is innovative for both sides given their cultural differences.

Becoming an opportunity for growth and economic expansion for both markets.

For example, for Geo-Insights , where the main strength is technological development , we seek alliances with Latin American companies that complement our solutions, and thus adding further value to the Latin American market.