InsighTs by Bardo

Women in Tech: Ángela Bustillos

We spoke with Ángela Bustillos, co-founder of eXplorins, the place for Spatial Storytelling.

Could you introduce yourself?

I am from Caracas. I’ve been living in Barcelona for over 6 years now. I’ve studied communication and advertising but I’ve been more focused on storytelling lately. I consider myself an absolute fan of the different ways in which people can convey a messages. I love aesthetics, narratives, colors, shapes, everything. I love the fact of being able to discover a story or a little insight about somebody or something.

Right now I am in a going through a constant learning process. And I love it. I know that there are people who feel uncomfortable with not knowing something or not being a specialist, I am the exact opposite. When I don't know something, I see an opportunity to learn, to investigate, or to spend time on it. Now with eXplorins, I see myself as a person who enjoys learning, facing challenges and creating new things.

Did you move from Caracas directly to Barcelona?

I lived in Dublin for a year where I studied English. There where a lot of Venezuelans arriving at that time because it was one of the countries where you could study and work without needing a special visa. That first time as a migrant was huge for me. That was when I realized that I was a very brave woman. I like to repeat that to myself like a pat on the shoulder. I didn't know I would continue this personal and professional process of migrating but here I am in Barcelona.

The first 3 years here in Spain were quite hard and I had to make a living while struggling with the whole migration process. Over time, all the effort and energy was rewarded because I feel a lot more confident, stronger, determined and focused woman.

Could you tell us a bit more about what eXplorins is about?

eXplorins was born from a shared vision. It was not born from the typical phrase “we want to be entrepreneurs” or “we want to create a startup”. We deeply believe in the project and its potential. We are truly interested in stories, people and cities. The idea was to create a space where all of this can be put together and share knowledge that helps us to get closer and to access other views and perspectives.

eXplorins was born to listen to users. Everyone can generate content, because they like to share it or to promote local businesses, new projects, even companies that seek to break the rules and create an experiential marketing strategy for their brands or products. We have focused on Barcelona but the app was conceived to create tours and tell stories anywhere in the world. Our mission is to generate a space for discovery, generator of community and social responsibility, where we can all participate.

Some of the stories you might find in eXplorins

Under a B2B2C business model we are focused on co-creating experiences with our clients that generate great value, accompanying them throughout the process. We are a Spatial Storytelling hub, and our communication channel is our own tool: eXplorins App. Together with my co-founder Daniel Ferrer we do the business strategy and management, and I am in charge of the Marketing and Communication area, operations, sales and new business strategy and I provide support in art direction and UX/UI design. We are a small team so we all have many roles.

The eXplorins team.

Is there any particular role with which you feel more comfortable?

Project Management is certainly my main role. I had already been working with project management in my previous job at an advertising agency, Ogilvy. Now I am working on this role but merging it with tech and business components. I’ve began to understand and optimize my tasks and my role since I started eXplorins and with the help of courses such as the one I completed at All Women, where I was fascinated by management and especially by seeing other women like Kax Uson doing so excellent work, and being so inspiring.

What would you like to do professionally in the future?

It is difficult now to think about the future but I see myself working in management, which is clearly my strength. Developing more strategy and business skills for social impact projects where people are at the center. As well as continuing to develop my soft skills and contribute to their development in teams, especially with creative and analytical thinking, problem solving and creativity.

I love listening to people. I want the team to be doing well, to grow as people, as a society, as a community, at a social and business level, generating products with a positive impact.

You are a business entrepreneur living in Barcelona. How do you feel with this label?

I’ve been thinking about this. I try to take this very calmly. I think that in the startup environment there is a lot of ego of both women and men. I think it's a super interesting environment, I love it. But at the same time, I like to go slow. I hear the word entrepreneur and it gives me a bit of a chill in the back. It sounds very cool and it is and I know that it has a lot of work and sacrifice behind it but it’s strange.  

Entrepreneurship also means  giving up many things to make a very big bet on you and your idea . But I also really like to think about entrepreneurship in a more earthly way. I like to remember that those Latin American ladies that make some empanadas and walk the streets to sell them without a business plan or a brand book are also entrepreneurs. That inspires me. Entrepreneurship can be much more simpler. It is about finding purpose, it is way more than just doing an MBA. It has sacrifices but we can all be entrepreneurs. I have other labels that are perhaps even more powerful than “business entrepreneur”.

Besides being an entrepreneur, I am a woman, an immigrant and a Latina living in Europe. That is huge and I can embrace today more than ever before.

How do these labels affect your professional career in the tech environment?

Opportunities narrow down and achieving certain goals is way more tough. It is super important to find a balance in the participation of genders in startups and innovation ecosystems. In Barcelona I think that there is a lot of programs and ideas around this, and an excellent job is being done but there is still a lot to do.

For me equality is achieved when opportunities are created for communities at risk. Privilege is a word that comes with two words tied behind: power and money. For me the ultimate objective is not a fight between women and men but a fight where everyone can participate. We need to create opportunities and generate projects that allow incorporating and bringing minorities and communities at risk together. An European white woman may have far more privileges than an African man.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by two words "freedom" and "opportunities". In Venezuela the freedom to walk on the street is really limited. In Barcelona I can ride my bike freely. There are days when I look up and think how beautiful, how pleasant, how incredible to be here. I appreciate my freedom and my opportunity to go out every day to fight for my dreams.

Appreciating little somehow ordinary things inspires me. The sunsets, the nature and the people that give you rare perspectives on life too. I am inspired by innovative and impactful projects, authentic people who work with passion for what they believe in. eXplorins has its offices in Impact Hub Barcelona, and arriving there is having a dose of inspiration every day.

Did you learn anything during quarantine?

I realized that human beings can take more than we think. It was a very hard time for everyone and personally under brutal stress because eXplorins was designed to go out for a walk and learn new things. But we managed to reinvent ourselves, brainstorming for hours on the phone, reading the media, analyzing trends and trying to understand what was going on.

Regarding eXplorins, I realized that we are on the right track and that we are visionaries. The project’s mission has always been inspired by seeking a positive contribution to the social, economic and digital problems that we have been dealing with long before the pandemic. We acted fast and created virtual tours for people to take from home, we adapted quickly and we continued to add value.

Josefina Blattmann
Marketing Strategist

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