James Cook interviews venture capitalist Paul Bragiel who has gone to extraordinary lengths to enter the Winter Olympics.
Paul Bragiel, cofounder of venture capital firm i/o Ventures, has taken an unusual step. Since April 2013, he has taken time out from traveling the world advising startups to train in cross-country skiing.
With his sights set on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, he had to find a country whose Olympic team he could join. The Kernel asked Paul how he went about finding a country to represent in the winter olympics.
“I did a very exhaustive search for countries. Being that this was a huge piece of the puzzle to even have a remote shot at making it, I pulled out all the stops. I put together a whole campaign where I wrote physical letters to the embassies and governments of every country in the world that had no winter sports tradition. I also emailed every national olympic committee to gauge interest as well. In the end, it came down to five countries. They were Uganda, Cambodia, Tanzania, Cape Verde & Colombia. Colombia hands down was the most enthusiastic and moved mountains to make it happen in a expedited way. In order for this to happen I got the President to personally approve it and he put in a presidential decree in order to speed up the process! Overall, I think they see this as a great human interest story and also as an example to their youth that if you want something you can go out and get it.”
After choosing Colombia as his new place of citizenship, did Paul see any effects?
“Right now I am seeing only the upside. I have a new adopted country and everyone I’ve met from Colombia has been so supportive of my dream. It’s probably one of the most progressive governments I have encountered in all my work around the world. I’m sure it might impact me a bit going forward in terms of travel and borders… but its a small price to pay.”
After the 2014 Olympics are over, Paul is planning on staying in Colombia.
“I do plan to move to Colombia for a few months after my Olympic quest. I’m looking forward to improving my Spanish and more importantly helping out the local start-up ecosystem as well as advising the government on some of their tech initiatives. However, I am very open to any suggestions for other crazy and fun things to do. So if anyone reading this wants to invite me on some ridiculous trip or get me to host a dating show in Bhutan… I’m all ears.”
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The Kernel wishes Paul the best of luck on his journey to Sochi 2014. You can follow his progress on his Facebook page.