PUNKU is an early-stage startup working on an AI-powered sales prospecting solution. Through the 3-month program, the AI startup is developing a way to effortlessly connect with prospects through email and seamlessly automate the scheduling of qualification calls, with the goal of enhancing sales team efficiency while simultaneously cutting costs. At Campus Founders, we want to share inspiring stories from our community that resonate with all of you. That is why we sat down with Daniel Quiroga, CEO of PUNKU, to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey.
1. What was the turning point or life event that inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?
There was no turning point. I was always a builder and had projects since I was a kid. My first business was collecting Membrillo fruits from my grandma’s garden and selling them to the hotel next door, to buy video games. When I was 12, I pitched to the CEO of the largest mall in La Paz a new popcorn holder that would carry popcorn and a drink simultaneously. I built a prototype, but unfortunately, it would have been too expensive compared to the status quo. Nonetheless, he invited me to hear more of my ideas and projects in the coming months.
Most recently, alongside my studies, I worked on two projects: COSITAS – a snack box for Taxis/Ubers, and BackHero – A metallic box that takes the weight away from quick-commerce riders’ backs. Both were fun projects where I learned a lot.
2. What is your founder’s journey?
I came from Bolivia to study in Germany. To fund my studies in Munich, I took countless jobs, working full-time during holidays and part-time during the semester. My career progressed from a minimum-wage role at Hollister to eventually reporting to the CEOs of Allianz Technology and FINN. Similarly, I graduated from Germany’s top entrepreneurship programs. I have always been passionate about learning, both theoretically and empirically, through internships. Even during my work, I would pitch and execute new initiatives.
3. Was there a moment of self-doubt in your journey, and how did you overcome it?
A founder’s journey is, by definition, full of uncertainty. I make the best possible decisions with the available data at the fastest pace, but it is impossible to be right all the time. Do I reflect based on the feedback I receive? Certainly. Do I change my approach to get the desired results? Constantly. Do I doubt myself? Never. I will never lose if I never give up.
4. Who is your role model or inspiration in the business world, and how have they influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
I genuinely admire Seba Schuon, the founder and CEO at Alasco. He has created the best combination of a culture of excellence, good people, and best-in-class execution. Agile was done right, and the work was meaningful. Most importantly, there were the co-working relationships among Alascians. They cared about each other, fostering a relationship similar to a football team where you are not only friends but are also expected to leave the best on the field and push each other to perform. I specifically name Seba because I know him the closest, but I also believe the other founders, Benjamin and Anselm, have significantly shaped the culture.
5. Punku is now part of the AI Founders program. Why this program, and what do you hope to achieve?
The AI Founders program is by far the best AI incubator program in Europe. People just haven’t realized this yet. The main differentiator to other incubators or ecosystems is the size of the vision. The vision of the program is global. I’m a prominent critic of many European startups aiming to become the XYZ Company of Europe or build the ABC Company with European values, whatever that might be. Which to me means they are settling for a second or third place and not aiming to become a global leader, let alone change the world. Or as Peter Thiel puts it: “The something of somewhere is mostly just the nothing of nowhere.” AI Founders gets this difference and aims for the moon.