A short, fifteen-minute drive outside of the city center of San Juan, Puerto Rico, lies a very special warehouse that’s been converted into a creative workspace that facilitates the process of creative thinking, innovation and innovation.
Driving through a winding road, you think you’re going into the middle of a tropical jungle, lined with fruit stands and family owned restaurants. Our guides, Mark Hayward and Raul Colon took me and Hashtag Art’s co-founders, Gilad Zirkel and Marc Fischman to a creative workspace that has its eyes on helping to transform Puerto Rico’s economy.
Immediately upon entering Seriously Creative’s facility, you’re greeted with an environment that says let your hair down, and open up your brain.
You see bookshelves lined with relics of the early personal computer industry such as the original MacIntosh or a Commodore 64. You see shelves of books lining the walls with one shelf displaying the book, Startup Nation. There’s an element of funkiness and whimsical that screams make something, do something, and raise the bar a few notches.
When Everyone’s A Genius.
Seriously Creative’s founder, Dana Montenegro has a 4,000 square foot space that is used by major corporations and institutions to help do more than brainstorm and come up with new ideas for creative solving. His view is that if you come to an environment that fosters creativity with an openness to thinking things anew, the childlike curiosity and yes, the genius that we are all born with, can come alive again.
Dana contends that what how we learned to socialize, play and yes, collaoborate in kinder garden needs to be applied to the workplace of today.
Dana wants to replicate his facility in a downtown office building in San Juan with the idea of launching 30 new startups, knowing that some will break out and help foster the growth of Puerto Rico’s emerging startup economy.
Our short drive back to the city center of San Juan made me realize that the dichotomy of starting up in a jungle-like environment and growing in a big city with its vibrant culture, vibe and drive makes this special Caribbean island, hardly an island in the literal sense. It’s on its way to being an epicenter for what’s new and what’s next.
Keep an eye out people like Dana, who reflects the entrepreneurial spirit that is incubating something very special in Puerto Rico.