I always had the desire to create something great from scratch with a big, transcendental social impact.
By Maritza Lanas (Co-Founder, Burako & AgentPiggy)
In March 2011, I took one of the most important steps in my professional career: I quit my job.
I quit my good salary and the convenience and comfort of working in the Regional Government of Pichincha in Ecuador. I left it all for a shot at being an entrepreneur. It sounds like a difficult step to take, but it really wasn’t. I always had the desire to create something great from scratch with a big, transcendental social impact.
That’s how my journey began. My boyfriend-partner Pablo Ambram and I decided to travel to Argentina to create our first startup together: Burako, an online version of a traditional gamepopular in Argentina, Brazil and Israel.
While Burako was growing, we got an email saying we where accepted in Start-Up Chile to develop our second startup together: Agent Piggy, an online piggy bank for kids to help them being financially responsible. This project had actually begun in late 2010 when Pablo graduated from the Founder Institute in San Diego.
And that is how we arrived last year in Chile, a country that we had never been to and now the place that we don’t want to leave.
We started with the challenge of building the platform, testing and proving the concept. Then we began working with kids in both public and private schools. The feedback we got from these pilot classes got us to what Agent Piggy is today – the first virtual bank for children, teaching good financial habits in a practical way. Agent Piggy helps kids learn how to earn money by accomplishing challenges like washing daddy’s car on Saturday, save for goals like a bike for Christmas, share through donations to foundations and spend responsibly in our safe marketplace.
Working with schools was very satisfactory for me, but even more were the moments when the children asked if they were going to have AgentPiggy for the next year, and gave us hugs and treated us with familiarity and affection. Children from all income levels who experienced AgentPiggy said that they learned the value of money and understood complex concepts such as investing, compound interest, which they’ve heard on TV, but nobody had really explained it to them. I find it very fulfilling to transcend with these kids, with something that will be useful for them for the rest of their lifes.
Today Burako is no longer just an online game, it’s a community of more than 8,000 players that share the passion for the game, talk to each other, create rivalries and friends. And Agent Piggy has been recognized with several awards and has introduced a discussion about the need for financial education as an important social issue.
This is the magic of starting a business. It not only means to create something new or innovative, but also to recruit teams of talented people, to create social change and to have the ability to transcend through a product or service that adds value to society. That’s my biggest motivation for being an entrepreneur.
Editor’s note: Meet our guest blogger Maritza Lanas at Founder Friday Santiago on Friday, September 7, 2012 in Santiago, Chile – Free RSVP here.
About the guest blogger: Maritza Lanas is Co-Founder of Co-Founder of Burako, a Rummy-like board game, and AgentPiggy, an online piggy bank that helps kids to manage their allowance money wisey so they can learn to be financially responsible. She was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador and worked as a consultant with extensive experience and management skills, directing big scale projects of high social impact. Maritza currently lives in Chile. Follow her on Twitter at @maritzalanas.