Summer conference in San Diego.

María Gabriela
3 min readJan 10, 2018


Just imagine this… a 19-year old college BBA student traveling to California as a startup team member.

All my dreams were turning into a reality before I could even realize the magnitude of the opportunities that were being handed to me.

Last year, I was just a Sophomore Marketing student with nothing but a strong will to hustle and a lot of determination… and that’s when I had my first encounter with the startup world. I got the opportunity to work as a Marketing Strategist & Content Manager for a Colombian startup, Ctzen, while they were participating of an acceleration program in Puerto Rico. Ctzen is a hassle-free communications platform that allows citizens to report incidents directly to the public official in charge of attending that issue. They work along with governments to attend quickly and efficiently all citizens’ concerns.

After approximately 4 months of working with them, Ctzen offered me the opportunity to travel with the team to San Diego, California to one of the most amazing GIS (Geographic Information System) conferences: the Esri User Conference 2017. Esri is the global market leader in GIS and has helped customers improve results since 1969. Last Summer’s conference was all about The Science of Where and how mapping technologies are creatively solving some of the current problems worldwide.

Before I had finished measuring the pros and cons (probably no cons) of attending the conference, I was already onboard. I was more than ready to showcase Ctzen’s potential to every single person attending the conference because I believed in the product’s value and what it had to offer. To my surprise the conference had 16,000+ attendees from all over the world… and that was simply amazing. People with different professional backgrounds like government officials, cartographers, gis specialists, entrepreneurs, public safety professionals, students, and so on. These attendees, all different from one another, equally believed in the power of mapping and the value of the realtime information provided by maps.

The Opening Plenary of the conference was presented by the one and only Jack Dangermond, President and Co-founder of Esri. He did not only give me a profound introduction to the geographic information systems, but also opened my mind to the thousands of opportunities within this field. The opportunities are definitely endless from mapping plagues, gas leaks, tracking social media, spacial imagery, and encouraging citizen participation, amongst many more.

No doubt, the Esri UC 2017 was an unforgettable experience for me, but the setting played a meaningful part there too. San Diego is an experience of its own. Nothing beats summer in the West Coast… the food, the people, the culture, the activities, and the sightseeing were fundamental factors of making this trip one to remember. I must admit, I met a bunch of amazing people that transferred valuable knowledge to me, these outstanding people with whom I shared an incredible experience ranged from Esri Colombia representatives to Startup founders, with whom I still exchange greetings from time to time.

If I haven’t made it clear yet, San Diego and the Esri UC 2017 were definitely the experience of a lifetime. I hope to see you soon, San Diego. Maybe Esri will map the way back to you again.

Keep hustling,



The Ctzen team at Esri UC 2017.



María Gabriela

Young entrepreneur hustling her way through life. Passionate about knowledge, challenges and risks.