Omar Castillo is a young Costa Rican entrepreneur from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). As a world traveller, he identified the need of an alternative way of travelling and with the moto “don’t be a tourist, be a traveller”, he started the social-technological start up Unique Personal experiences (UPE) which allows people to spend some time with Costa Rican indigenous communities. UPE is currently incubated in the UCR business incubator and has large expectations of future growth. They were the winners of Startup Weekend Costa Rica in 2012 powered by the Kauffman Foundation and in October 2013 and they were selected by the Inter-American Development Bank from 400 companies to be part of its acceleration programme.
Which are the origins of your company?
All started when I was traveling by myself for a month along Peru, and I went to a small city in the north whose “official” accommodation was completely sold out, so I didn´t have any place to stay. At that point, I had two options: sleep on the street, or going to a nearby rural community to ask locals to stay in their home, and that´s what I did. I knocked at the door of a family, told them my story, asked them for homestay, and incredibly they accepted. By far, that night sharing dinner and talking with this rural family, was the highest point of my trip (more than Machu Pichu!), because I just stopped being a tourist, and became a traveller. In that moment I knew that I was in front of a huge business opportunity.
Read Omar’s full story here in the University Industry Innovation Magazine.