On a recent weekday, Angulo, 43, offered a tour of a hospital, bristling with medical devices and a fully-equipped operating theater and emergency room. What it doesn’t have is patients. Campoalto purchased the clinic so it could give its students hands on practice in a real-world setting.
“The best way to pretend they were in a real clinic was to buy a clinic,” he said. “No other [Colombian] institution has something like this.”
Campoalto started in 1997 when Angulo and his two associates, Hugo Fernando Novoa and Alvaro Hoffmann, graduated from medical school only to find that there was a dearth of qualified nurses and hospital technicians. They started the school with the idea of making high-quality vocational training available to low-income communities. The majority of Campoalto students come from working class backgrounds, hold tenuous jobs, and can’t afford to pay for school on a semester or even monthly basis. A full 70 percent are women, many of whom are the sole breadwinners of the family.
Campoalto created a pay-as-you-go financing model, and students can drop into classes at any of their eight campuses without prior announcement. Schedules are flexible and also offered on the weekends. The school has a dropout rate of less than 30 percent, and a tuition default rate of less than 3 percent, Angulo said.
But despite the school’s success it was also having growing pains. The three partners were wary of taking on outside investors and kept their brain-child tightly controlled. Their shortfalls in management were beginning to show just as the school was ready to expand, Angulo said.
“We were at an inflexion point,” he said. “We knew we could grow more but we needed to do it with quality. We didn’t want to become a diploma mill.”
In 2010, Campoalto passed Endeavor’s two-year selection process. Becoming a member connected Campoalto to a global network of entrepreneurs, opened the company up to new investors and allowed it to attract a high-caliber board. It also gave Campoalto access to heavy hitters in academia. The Boston Consulting Group helped the company develop a Colombian expansion plan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management helped with international efforts, including targeting Miami. The school, which will be known as Highfield in the United States, will begin offering nursing courses at its newly-purchased building on 5555 W. Flagler in Coral Gables.
Highfield’s target market in Miami will be Latinos who want to study but might have trouble breaking into the job market due to the lack of English. Highfield will be offering proficiency English courses even as it trains them to be hospital technicians. (Even so, board certification requires the bulk of the courses to be taught in English.)
Healthcare jobs are some of the most-needed and fastest growing in the United States, and Highfield already has alliances with three local medical institutions, although it doesn’t have authorization to talk about those alliances publically yet.
If Endeavor Colombia has anything to teach Miami’s branch of the organization, it’s that finding a high-quality board of directors will be key, Suárez said.
In Colombia, the board of directors include Alejandro Santo Domingo, the managing director of Quadrant Capital Advisors and the son of beer-magnate and Colombia’s second-richest man Julio Santo Domingo; Andres Echavarria, a board member of ceramic titan Corona; and Eduardo Pacheco, the CEO of Colpatria bank.
The high-profile board attracts the high-impact entrepreneurs that Endeavor is on the hunt for, she said.
“Board members not only have to contribute resources but be involved and lead activities,” she said. “A strong board will be key to Miami’s expansion.”
Endeavor Miami received a $2 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over five years for its launch, and the organization is in the process of assembling its board and hiring a managing director.
Angulo said Highfield should begin offering courses in Miami in August.
The doctor-turned-educator said the company probably would have made it to Florida without Endeavor, but its association with the organization has sped-up the process and increased its ambitions. When it joined Endeavor in 2010, Campoalto was billing about $2.5 million a year. Now it is billing $6.5 million And after Miami, it hopes to open offices in New York, Houston and Los Angeles.
Endeavor, Angulo said, “has changed our mindset in many aspects.”