Urban Planning not only refers to setting up buildings somewhere in the city, but it takes into account how these buildings look, where roads and railways are placed, where bridges and special constructions are built, etc. However, most importantly how people interact with all these pieces.
In this interview we get to know more about the person, aspirations and vision behind Natalia Rincón, the Co-Founder of CHAOS — the next Uber of Urban Planning.
Q: Who is Natalia and why did you become an entrepreneur?
“I studied computer science engineering and worked for IBM, which was bought by HP back then. I was leading projects with companies that were outsourcing their systems with us. Later on, I started working for EDS. Even though it was super interesting to see first-hand tech, I didn’t see myself doing that for 30 years.”
Natalia was born in Mexico to a family ruled by entrepreneurship — her dad was an entrepreneur. She grew up knowing what it really meant to be an entrepreneur. In Mexico, she mentioned that there are several issues related to urban planning, but amongst all, governments that often take a lot of taxes and don’t invest them properly — which makes the cities suffer.
After her decision to leave her job, she moved unto studying Architecture, where she got several opportunities to travel and live abroad. Being exposed to different cities and the way urban planning worked around them, she began to think about how to take advantage of technology to disrupt and improve the way we plan our cities.
Q: What is CHAOS?
“We are in the smart city business. We provide a tool for the end users, which means, citizens or anyone that wants to contribute to how their city looks like, anyone interested in Architecture or Urban Planning. Even if you’re not interested in that, as long as the space around you concerns you, this tool is for you.”
Their product is called “ Happycity”. In practice, it means that you take a picture of an area and you select from urban catalogs what you want in your city. That goes to a platform that is run by Artificial Intelligence which sorts ideas. This becomes a direct channel for the cities and other stakeholders involved in city planning. Once the data has been gathered, they crunch it and they provide analysis, user behavior, API’s and reduction of costs. CHAOS work with governments, private companies and they partner up with companies in the sustainable business field.
Q: Do you see “Happycity” working everywhere in the world regardless of how messy some cities can be?
“Yes sure, “Happycity” is actually the one that solves that kind of problems. Let’s face it, a robot is better at sorting information than a politician.”
Digitalization and the creation of apps are not what make a smart city, but what Chaos Architects is also trying to promote are smart citizens. You become intelligent not when you produce data but when you analyze it, which help us all to make better and educated decisions when it comes to urban planning — plus more transparency.
Q: How do you go from that idea to the actual product?
“It’s scary to start. What I did was to start talking with people, you know pin pointing, throwing the ball with other people, asking questions — do you think this is an idea that would work? and they would give comments back.”
After attending and winning Ultrahack, Natalia met several people and new opportunities opened. When she attended Ultrahack, she went with no expectations but rather a deep passion to improve cities all over the world. Plus, she also highlighted that she is enjoying her time in Finland and that is the reason why she is staying longer. She enjoys the Finn’s pragmatic attitude and that things do happen, for example within the startup scene. Apparently, the weather was also on her top list!
Q: What has been your biggest struggle as an entrepreneur?
“I like all the challenges that come with it because I like dealing with people, I like to innovate, I like to question the status quo, I enjoy networking with investors and I like pitching so all these things are things that I love to do.”
Natalia found herself at home when she made a pitch at Slush, and while she recognizes this is kind of a weird passion, she remembers clearly how fast her heart was beating. That’s what she defines to be her “ Eureka Moment” — that’s exactly where she was meant to be.
One of her biggest struggles as an entrepreneur is the heavy degree into which you feel everything. If something goes bad you can strongly blame yourself whereas when things too well, you feel on top of the world — so its two extremes. It’s definitely those small milestones, that have carried her forward up until today.
Q: Which would be your key learning points so far?
“As women, we might be perceived as being bossy, even though we’re not being bossy, we’re just leading, just as men do. It’s okay to be a woman and be a boss.“
Natalia mentioned that on occasions when she has given freedom to her team, in order to avoid corporate structures, there comes a point where you need to be a boss and follow your instinct. Sometimes being a woman has a strong role in this, as you might be considered “bossy” when in fact you are simply leading and managing your team. Natalia was gifted with an amazing advisor, who has helped her understand that things do not always have to perfect, you just have to do it.
CHAOS – only smart city expert that combines data with human intelligence. It empowers your organisation with urban insights and forecasting, for making more sustainable decisions and managing growth with resilience. CHAOS is an urban forecasting company for real estate investors and city developers. Our AI platform processes urban data and crowd insights to forecast investment and development opportunities for creating liveable cities.