By Tom Mustin
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – In a Boulder office, Cuban entrepreneurs are planning a technology revolution in their country.
“I feel very good and I’ve learned a lot,” Bernardo Romero Gonzales told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
Ten Cubans who’ve built online businesses in their country were chosen by an international panel. Their reward is a three-week intensive program in the U.S. to learn how to grow their businesses. Miami, Palo Alto and Boulder were selected as the host cities.
John McIntire with the Cuba Emprende Foundation says selecting Boulder was a no-brainer.
“This is one of the unique places, not only in the U.S., but the world where startups are not only a daily occurrence, but a way of life,” he said.
The students are being trained at the Boomtown Accelerator — a company that helps tech startups get on their feet.
“The goal is for them to come here and let them see the endless possibilities that exist in the world,” said Boomtown co-director Jose Vieitez.
In Cuba, internet is limited and many sites are blocked by the U.S. embargo.
Juan Luis Santana has invented a Yelp-like app to promote tourism. He says young people are the future of Cuba, and he treasures the opportunity to learn here.
“This is a good country. You have a lot of things to show the world. This is a good opportunity for us to see that and we are so grateful,” he told Mustin.
Many of the students have never left Cuba before. Tuesday they saw their first snow. McIntire says Colorado has made quite an impression.
“Here they feel, as they said to me, they feel the American spirit on the street. And they are just blown away and excited to be here,” said McIntire.
And after a life-changing stop in chilly Boulder, Santana says there’s no place he’d rather be,
“The people are kind and friendly so you don’t feel the cold,” he laughed.
The entrepreneurs will head back to Cuba on March 12.