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        SME Profile: Real City Tours

        Founded by a Grenoble GSB graduate, Real City Tours operates in the tourism sector, selling "real" tours to passionate tourists and back-packers in Colombia.

        It was a year ago yesterday that Pablo Alvarez Correa set-up his tourism SME, Real City Tours. He started out life as an engineer but after obtaining an MSc in Innovation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from Grenoble GSB, the French-based business school, he began to see entrepreneurship opportunities.

        A keen traveller, Pablo’s experiences across the world meant he knew what it was like to be in his soon-to-be customers shoes; back-packers whom want to experience the “real” parts of Colombia (hence the name).

        His time at Grenoble changed his way of thinking and when he returned to Colombia, his start-up idea was born out of a passion for tourism, travelling and his home country's culture.

        A year on and Real City Tours has just set-up it’s second service, based on exotic fruits, and made it to number-one in a particular TripAdvisor ranking – a feat that, Pablo assures us, has contributed hugely to his success.

        But he’s not stopping there. After business school and after hard, start-up graft in Colombia, he wants to eventually reproduce his real-tours across the whole of South America.

        France was an unlikely beginning for this engineer-turned-entrepreneur, but he has no doubt Grenoble gave him the skills and confidence to make the leap.

        What is the company's size?

        It’s 100 per cent my business, but we have 2 more employees. So three in total.

        Which sector does it operate in?

        Tourism.

        What does the business do and what are their core/flagship products?

        We offer two tours, including a walk around Medellin's downtown (El Centro) with a local. During the four-hour tour you will discover the most traditional parks, squares and streets of the city. We will guide you through the history of Medellín, the culture of its people, The Paisas, and their stories.

        The tour is fully in English and is based on tips – but what makes us different is that we require you to book a place online, unlike most other walking-tours.

        The second and newest tour is the Exotic Fruits Tour; a walk through one of Medellin’s main markets where you can see, feel and taste what makes Colombia the first country in the world in terms of fruit biodiversity. You will learn about a variety of exotic fruits, try them and enjoy a delicious fresh juice with us.

        Who is your target demographic?

        When I started the main target was the backpackers but now we also get a lot of more mature couples and people that have been travelling for a long time.

        Who is the CEO/ founder?

        I founded the company by myself when I got back to Colombia from Grenoble.

        How was the company founded?

        I got an amazing opportunity to travel the world and all those experiences allowed me to understand my culture from a different perspective. When I came back to Colombia I realized that tourism was booming.

        I knew that as a traveller you want to see the authentic sides of any place, so I decided to create this company to help tourists to get closer to the real Colombia.

        My town has a bad reputation, because of drug lords in the past, so people are still afraid of some places in the city and some tourists don’t go there. But things have changed now. That’s why I call it Real City Tours; it’s the idea that the tourist can discover reality.

        What are your goals for the company now?

        For me the dream is that it becomes an experience on a bigger scale. So backpackers don’t fly just to Colombia; my dream is that it becomes an experience available in any city they go to.

        So my idea is that it becomes a whole experience in Colombia and even the whole of South America. But our focus will always be to enable tourists to get closer to the reality of our city, country and continent.

        How has an MSc from Grenoble helped you set-up your own company?

        It’s incredibly useful because my brain or my mind was thinking only as an engineer before. My time at Grenoble opened a new side of my brain and it led me to see things from different perspective. Although once you’re an engineer, it never leaves you.

        But the business degree included a new ingredient into my way of thinking and it allows me to see things as I never have before. It also gave me confidence. And now I see the business opportunities. 

        To check out Pablo's business, visit: http://www.realcitytours.com/