Mentor Stories: Meet Natalia Rincon

Hey there, this is Emily from Red Brick. Welcome to our “Mentor Stories” series, where we celebrate and showcase our mentors who are a big part of how we support startups in Red Brick Accelerator. We hope you enjoy reading them!

Natalia Rincon is an architect and computer scientist with a truly global perspective. Natalia seamlessly blends her architectural expertise with her passion for urban planning and entrepreneurship, contributing to boards and projects that are meaningful to her. Her love for cities and people have driven her to co-found CHAOS, a startup focused on improving urban planning, where she is currently a CEO. She’s also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Smart Cities at Aalto University. Natalia believes in giving back to society and cherishes collaboration with others, is committed to community building and helping those around her. 

With her expertise in urban planning, smart cities, data platforms, and tech, Natalia brings a unique perspective to support budding ventures in these domains. Her active engagement in various councils and organizations demonstrates her commitment to making a positive impact. Natalia takes great pleasure in mentoring Red Brick founders, leveraging her extensive background to provide guidance on fundraising, pitch deck preparation, business case development, market research and analysis. 

Natalia’s journey to start her own business has not been easy, albeit very rewarding. She began by meeting and talking to many people to share her business idea. Her journey was immediately fast tracked when someone recommended her to participate in a hackathon in Tampere, where her team won and validated their idea.

Natalia then found her co-founder, Paloma Bautista Sánchez, with whom the journey progressed as CHAOS transitioned into an incorporated company. They established a shareholder’s agreement and secured investment from angel investors that she met through Startup Sauna. Their perseverance and hard work paid off at Slush in 2017 when, with a fully developed app, they raised a successful funding round in one night, cementing the start of CHAOS’s success story.

She is one of the active mentors in Red Brick. When asked about her mentoring values, Natalia believes a good mentor listens and guides, leading by example rather than just giving answers. She values humility in mentees, as they’ll receive feedback and need to defend their ideas. “It’s important to speak up while being open to feedback, even if it’s not directly stated,” she says. “Investors also appreciate founders who can learn and adapt.”

Natalia further added that people often focus on the product and its marketing, but she emphasizes turning ideas into successful businesses by understanding the customers and reasons they would buy, which is important. Natalia’s mentoring style includes giving help where needed and asking tough questions to challenge and improve startup ideas.

Natalia advises founders to learn how to network, build their teams, develop a strong business case, and then proceed with their venture.

“It’s crucial to know who your target customers are and understand their profiles,” she says. “To succeed, you must grasp various aspects of your business, including your customer base and go-to-market strategy. Even if you have a fantastic product idea, you’ll face questions about these topics. Focusing solely on the product won’t take you very far.”

“Teams should have this magic. Some people call it chemistry. When you are likable and charismatic, you are able to radiate energy into other people. It is nice to converse with you and build a genuine relationship, it’s not just pitching and pitching.

MySpeaker Finland – Keynote Puhua – Natalia Rincon

If you already managed to hook your audience, the next step is being super clear. State that this is my goal, this is what I want, tell the story in a very concise and clear way. It gives a strong impression that this person really knows what they’re talking about. The confidence and the clarity speak for themselves.

Accelerators help in networking, support, having a safety net, and getting creative ideas from other founders. Not everybody is a founder, some people just want to join the adventure, which is fine.

People admire someone who is passionate about something. When a person that has passion speaks, you can immediately tell they are genuine. I think that’s what we all want in the world, to find our passion. I think when you’re that kind of founder, you attract a lot of people, investors, attention, and buzz.

Lastly, you identify your go-to-market. I think this is how investors evaluate and really look at startups. When asked this question, what is your best-performing startup in your portfolio, the one you’re really proud of and the one you would always mention, investors always answer, it’s not the one making the most revenue, not one with the cool product, nor the special customers, it’s the one that has magic. Do it with passion or not at all.

Red Brick mentors play an important role in the shaping of our early-stage startup teams. We thank Natalia for her insights and expertise in helping our teams grow and succeed. 💚Has this inspired you to mentor a startup team? Get in touch, we are always looking for new mentors to join our family!