David Fonseca: CEO of Velocity TX is Committed to Fostering Entrepreneurship Worldwide
By Antonio Gutierrez
David Fonseca has a word of warning to would-be visitors to his beloved Colombia. “There is only one risk associated. If you go, you’ll only want to stay, so be careful,” he quips in reference to a Colombian travel ad. “It’s very beautiful.”
Fonseca, 33, came to the U.S. from his hometown of Bogota at age 18 on an academic scholarship to Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and master’s in business administration. He later landed a key position at the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) in Orlando, Fla., although he found himself living out of his suitcase.
But his destiny changed, and good fortune followed four years ago when he was introduced to Randy Harig, CEO of Texas Research & Technology Foundation (TRTF), the parent company of VelocityTX.
“I was leading the global department of the International Business Innovation Association and was spending 70 percent of my life in an airplane and visited 34 countries, including Russia and most of Europe,” Fonseca said. “All of that work involved building innovation districts and entrepreneurial ecosystems. My mentor, Bill Cone, knew Randy and suggested we meet. The next thing I know, I’m moving from Florida to Texas.”
Fonseca admits, however, that when Harig offered him a job to help grow VelocityTX, he didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity.
“The funny thing is I said ‘no’ the first three times,” Fonseca said. “When you live in Orlando, you’re $300 and three hours to Colombia. On top of that, you’re closest to the happiest place on Earth – which is Disney World. But he sold me on the vision of creating something that had never been done before. It was very inspiring.”
If you haven’t noticed already, Fonseca has a good sense of humor, which one finds refreshing during a conversation via cell phone in which he also shares some exciting professional news.
In April, Fonseca was promoted from executive vice president to CEO of VelocityTX, a nonprofit established in 2017 which helps early-stage bioscience companies launch innovative breakthroughs that can significantly change and save lives at a global level. In this role, he will continue to foster his deep commitment to entrepreneurship and help aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe bring their dreams to fruition.
The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in his veins and was fostered by his father, himself an entrepreneur, who introduced Swatch to the Colombian marketplace and whom Fonseca took a cue in developing his business acumen and vision for success – just as he is doing now in leading VelocityTX. As CEO, Fonseca will work closely with an advisory board and the TRTF executive leadership to pursue the goals of making VelocityTX Innovation Center the global hub for high-growth bioscience companies.
For those who don‘t know, what is VelocityTX?
We are in the business of enhancing and saving lives. We do this by supporting, connecting, and funding life-sciences companies, whether it’s medical devices or biotechnology companies. Imagine any company that has something super innovative with patents that require a lot of money and connections to make things happen. That’s where we come in.
Tell us about your new role as CEO.
It’s taken us four years to get to where we are, and I’m honored to lead the organization to the next level. I want to become a global sustainable hub that will host 275 life-sciences companies that will attract $1.6 billion. It’s a bold statement, but I truly believe it’s attainable.
Why is entrepreneurship so important to you?
It all started at 14 when my father built his own company. I saw how he developed it from idea to growth, and I realized life could be more than having a corporate job. I knew entrepreneurship was the best way to get anyone to achieve their dreams. I’ve been very passionate about it. (When I was with the InBIA,) I was able to create a model to support companies at any stage of development. This took me around the world, training people how to do it. Of course, I have a soft spot for Colombia, so I teach a course on entrepreneurship at Universidad del Rosario.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
My advice is to fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve. Don’t fall in love with the idea. When people create something, they fall in love with the product or process and forget there’s a market out there. If there isn’t a need or market for their product, nobody will buy your product. It’s about understanding the problem and creating a product that will sell.
You‘ve been here four years now. How do you like San Antonio?
It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the United States, but we’ve been discovered. Now everyone is moving here.