The known unknown of 2023 has been resolved. The question of what I intend to do next with my life has an answer. I have begun to work at Somos Internet as their Head of Finance in Medellin.

I love how life works. A conversation with an ex-JPM coworker, a zoom chat with a CEO, a 2 night visit to Medellin, and the trajectory of my life has shifted. I was actively looking for the right opportunity, but this happened quicker than I had planned and in some ways is even better than I could have hoped for. 

I landed the gig primarily because the 25 year old CEO, Forrest, sees a kindred spirit in me – a smart guy who moved to Colombia because I see a land of incredible quality of life and opportunity today, as someone who wants to work on a fast scaling startup but needs to see the direct path to a viable business model from day one, who sees massive potential in applying the Tesla model (vertical integration, layering software on top of physical infrastructure to unlock new value, starting with a premium product and moving down the value chain) to other industries that have become stagnant and uninnovative, like internet and utility companies. I tend to consider myself an optimist, but compared to Forrest I’m definitely more of a realist, which he also values. 

Somos is an internet company. We offer high speed fixed internet to around ~60,000 homes in Medellin and currently have ~10,000 users.

It might not sound sexy, but there are a couple of reasons why Somos went through Y Combinator and is now backed by some of the best VCs in LatAm: 1. Forrest, is a genius, and 2. we’re building a new type of internet network. If we do it well, we might unlock an order of magnitude of value compared to existing internet providers, and use it as the basis to fulfill our mission to “deflate the cost of basic infrastructure” around the world. 

So, what do I mean when I say that we’re building a new type of internet?

I see a few key differences to a traditional internet provider: 

  • Customer friendly Subscription Model and Competitive Pricing: Somos Internet offers a Netflix-style subscription model with transparent “all-in” pricing. Unlike traditional internet providers, our subscribers can cancel their subscription at any time (they’re not locked-in). Our internet plans are not only high speed (starting from 200Mbps up to 1Gbps), but they are also priced lower than any of our competitors. Our base plan starts at just $8 USD per month. We can offer this high speed, high quality, affordable internet because of how we build out network.
  • Innovative Low-Capex Network Infrastructure: While other internet companies built their networks with expensive, passive fiber cable deployments (which is essentially just replacing the copper cables of the coaxial era with fiber glass), Somos has taken a different approach. We own and operate our network, and instead of deploying fiber cables from the outset, we’ve built a unique internet network using radio receivers mounted on buildings. These wireless links connect our data center to residential buildings, enabling us to roll out our network quickly, and if the building has lots of apartments in it, the cost for each “homepassed” is low. We’re now experimenting with an “active” fiber rollout to complement our existing network, and the benefit of owning our entire network infrastructure stack is we can build hybrid modes of network deployment but ensure it is all well integrated, resilient, and efficient. This is a low-capex infrastructure strategy. 
  • Scalable Opex – Network Architecture and Automation: The real magic happens when we combine our low-capex network rollout with our team of network architects, who have worked at companies like AWS and Microsoft. They have designed our network from scratch on a first principles basis, building it to be software-driven and optimized for efficiency, best-in-class quality and resiliency. Additionally, by building in-house, we have built automation software that enables us to scale (relatively) seamlessly from 10,000 to 100,000 to 1,000,000 users without incurring substantial incremental operating expenses. Internet is a business with huge economies of scale, but we are already able to compete with industry giants such as Claro, Movistar, and Tigo thanks to the way we’ve built our network.
  • Somos Pro: we are soon launching Somos Pro, a new premium internet subscription. With Somos Pro, we are redefining the concept of internet service. Alongside gigabit internet speeds, subscribers will receive a custom designed router that doubles as a beautiful lamp. All customers will receive at least 2 routers, well cabled and located to maximise range/bandwidth, a consultation with our technician on use cases, and premium support. V1 of the router is just a regular lamp, but we are envisioning this router as an intelligent hub, with color-changing bulbs that could unlock functionality similar to Alexa or Google Home (but without the privacy concerns). Somos Pro aims to provide “internet so good you never need to worry about it.”

I wrote all that out (and then refined it using ChatGPT) both because I want to articulate for myself why Somos is different, but I’m also interested in hearing your opinions. Does Somos Pro sound cool? Does my explanation of how we build / scale our network make sense? I would genuinely appreciate feedback because this is a story I will be selling to Banks and VCs over the next 12 months and I want to sharpen it up!!

I worked with Somos first in a consulting capacity and now full-time for ~2 months, and I see both massive challenges and massive opportunities ahead. I go to bed with my mind racing through different scenarios, searching for ways to move the needle for our runway and our growth trajectory. I show up to work everyday and feel like I am once again learning from and contributing to the thought process of some incredibly smart people as I once did at JPMorgan, but this time from a decision-maker’s perspective. From the operating side, I can try and think outside of the box in a way that I couldn’t at JPM because I have different levers I can pull. I’m working with a few million dollars in the bank which will quickly run out if I don’t do my job well. And I’m an equity option holder in a startup that has a small but real chance to be a billion dollar company. It is incredibly exciting. 

Rereading my last post, my 2022 year in review, I think I was resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t find what I was looking for in Colombia and was mentally preparing myself to move back to the UK and start from scratch. Instead, I’ve landed a role that has the potential to be a career-defining opportunity if I nail it, and it’s in Colombia! I’m not currently 100% enamored with Medellin, but the excitement about the work more than makes up for that. I hope in a year’s time I look back on this post and see it as the start of not just a new job, but a new lifestyle, using the new job as a “palanca” to build a better version of me. 

This post is both a life update and also a thank you to Forrest Heath (and Jose Ortiz) for helping me solve my known unknown for 2023. I am incredibly grateful to have re-found the intellectual stimulation and motivation to create and motivation to push myself harder that I was so severely lacking last year. 

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