Building a Better Future: Rosario Casas’ Mission to Support Hispanic Founders and Technology Solutions

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” is a series of stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds, raised funding, and are now leading successful companies.

Photo Credit: Jade Chen

Rosario Casas, co-founder and CEO of XR Americas and co-founder and managing partner of BC Partners, is solving humanity’s most pressing problems through technology.

Rosario’s journey began in her home country where she founded BCPartners to bring foreign investments into Colombia. Since its inception as a consulting firm specializing in digital innovation, BCPartners Tech has evolved to include an incubator for Hispanic business founders specializing in technology. Rosario then went on to co-found XR Americas, which leverages the power of spatial computing systems by combining AR, VR, and AI to sharpen organizations’ competitive edge, performance, and sustainability through workforce skills development. 

We asked Rosario about her journey of pivoting through different careers, countries, and companies, as well as the advice she has for others looking to disrupt and pursue ideas of their own.


Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding: What led you to start this business?

A: Back in 2004, when I was the chief of staff for a Colombian First Lady, and Colombia started to change for good and improve its economy and safety, I realized the importance of job creation. I began to prepare myself, and in 2006 I jumped to support foreign direct investment in my country. Two years later, I founded BCPartners and brought more than 20 companies to Colombia. One day, back in 2013, a Silicon Valley startup building state-of-the-art big data and artificial intelligence solutions contracted us to start their LatAm operations. After a few months, they offered me the position of global CEO.

That opportunity opened my eyes to the power of exponential technologies to scale solutions. I completely fell in love with technology and its possibilities, and that is the reason why I co-founded XR Americas. After five years, we have a role in the immersive technologies landscape. In 2017, I was named one of the 100 Top World Disruptors in NYC by the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and in 2019, Mujer Legendaria by Ford Motor Company, and one of the 100 OBO Movement Innovators of 2020. 

In 2019, with my husband Felipe Forero Hauzeur, we decided to transform the consulting company into a digital incubator, specializing in Hispanic owned businesses. 

I am obsessed with finding more women and Hispanic talent using technology to solve the most significant problems humanity has. Both business stories are helping us with our purpose.


Q: What was the best piece of fundraising advice you got?

A: The best moment to raise funds is when you don’t need them. Always be ready to talk with any person as a potential investor.


Q: In what ways do you think differently about your industry than others do? In what ways are you disrupting your industry?

A: My initial dream was to be the President of my country, building a better future for people. That’s why I started studying political science with a major in economics.

Then I realized that power wasn’t my motivation, but the accomplishment of changing lives, and that’s why I moved into the private sector. Finance and direct investment are usually a world of people looking for financial results—my scope was the impact on my region.

Last but not least, I arrived in the technology industry because of my management and financial skills. But again, it was the same purpose that moved me to learn more. Even when I don’t have a formal technical background, I can say I am a Latina who has a seat at the technology table, and what we are building is impacting both extremes: helping businesses to leap into the new digital reality, and making the future of training with immersive technologies in the frontier.


Q: What was one unexpected hurdle or challenge you faced when getting started?

A: When I started working in Colombia, I should confess I had a rapidly growing career. I had leadership roles very early in my career. But when I entered the technology world, for the first time, being a woman and a Latina was mentioned in conversations with business peers or superiors. I learned English as an adult, and of course, a strong accent is one of the elements that made me visible. 

For me, all that conversation was a surprise, and of course, it took me some time to realize the opportunity it could be to talk in the name of many more and open doors for many other talented Hispanic professionals, reducing the gap in perception about Hispanic talent.


Q: What has worked for you in terms of customer acquisition? What hasn’t worked?

A: Reputation is everything when you are looking for clients. Keeping the right name, delivering what you promised, exceeding expectations, and playing fair is always the best investment in marketing. At the same time, you should go beyond your network when selling. Sleeping on your reputation is a terrible recipe if you want to scale and grow your market.


Q: How have you been able to differentiate yourself in terms of product offerings, marketing, positioning or leadership?

A: I believe in the authenticity of my company and my team. When you are leading a company you founded, your style creates the foundations for the organization’s culture. 

For our two companies, that resulted in organizations where I love to have smart people to propose and create ideas. In both cases, we started early, and one of the primary leadership strategies was for passion to drive the daily work to obtain the goals while being obsessed with learning everything needed for tomorrow.


Q: What’s been the #1 lesson you’ve learned about hiring since you started your company?

A: You need to select the best people who love to learn and work with purpose. All the other things will come with it.


Q: Which were the first few roles that you hired for upon starting your company? Why were these important to fill first?

A: Founders are always the hardest and more important positions to fill. In BCPartners, I started alone, and now I have late co-founders. In XR Americas, I invited two people to be my partners. You will have much time to share with partners and a lot to build and solve, and if they are the correct ones, you will arrive at a safe place. And of course, you will enjoy the journey very much.


Q: What do you find most challenging about hiring?

A: I always find the cultural differences challenging and being sure of what you see. That’s why having a diverse team from the first moment helps to scale across multiple cultures, generations, visions, and perspectives. 


Q: What advice would you give someone starting on the journey you’re on?

A: Be sure to have a purpose and vision. Building a company requires a lot of effort and daily sacrifices, and having a clear view of the future—including your company as part of a better vision—helps a lot when the problematic moments arrive. Same for when ethical challenges arise! There are many ways to accomplish any goal, but the more crucial roadmap is making you feel coherent between your brain, heart, and daily dedication and effort.

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  • Originally published October 28, 2020