Crystal Lagoons: One of the Most Innovative Ideas to Conquer the Five Continents
In its latest edition, the prestigious magazine Latin Trade highlighted Crystal Lagoons as one of the most successful Latin American innovations and emphasizes how it conquered the five continents. The publication also outlines KidZania as the second biggest regional initiative to obtain global status.
“Fernando Fischmann is a Chilean biochemist and scientist. Mexican Xavier López Ancona, a business administrator. By all appearances they have nothing in common. But both have managed to take their companies to the five continents because of their similar vision: opportunities do not arrive, they are created. Today their companies are iconic in the region’s entrepreneur circles, and their billings run in the millions,” the publication states.
Fischmann is the founder of Crystal Lagoons, a Chilean multinational company specialized in water innovation with technology that is now patented in 190 countries. This allows for the development, installation and maintenance of turquoise, crystalline lagoons in unimaginable places, that range from a real estate apartment complex to a city in a desert area. López Ancona has transformed the leisure industry for children by creating KidZania, a concept of amusement parks whose purpose is to combine education and entertainment with role-playing, in which children can practice, for a day, one of hundreds of professions, such as being a doctor or fashion designer, as well as learning about the operation of a city and how to manage money.
Surpassing Limits, Setting Records
Eight years ago, Fischmann took a plane from Chile to Dubai. He was determined to see the CEO of Nackheel, one the largest real estate developer in the world. His plan was to show how the Crystal Lagoons technology worked.
For three days, Fischmann says, he sat in the executive’s office, waiting until he got an appointment. “I showed him photos of my project and he told me: that is a photomontage, all artificial lagoons are dark,” recalls Fischmann. The entrepreneur then asked the CEO to open Google Earth to find San Alfonso del Mar, Chile, his first project, and for which he entered the Guinness World Records book in 2007 for the largest artificial lagoon in the world, with 19.7 acres of surface area.
That changed the CEO’s way of thinking, according to Fischmann, and was the International launching of Crystal Lagoons, which now has 600 projects at different stages of development in 60 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Spain, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Oman, Singapore and Thailand.
“At first, people told me that what I wanted were Global ideas that in Latin America were impossible,” he says. “It is a tremendous satisfaction to see it come true.” The total Dubai project will need an investment of $7 billion. It is in the middle of the desert, and when it is finished in 2020, it will be the largest in the world with its 99 acres, and it will surely win the company’s third Guinness World Record. Now, among other projects, Fischmann is getting ready to launch the first public lagoon in the center of Las Vegas.
“People will not go there just to gamble or to see the shows at night,” he says. “They will go to the beach.” And he will go one step further: “If everything goes well, next year we will open up an industrial area [in the company] so that the world’s population that doesn’t have water for biological needs will have it.”
Xavier was running against the clock in 1996. He was 32 years old when he went to London to ask for a leave from GE, one of the largest companies in the world, where he was vice president of risk capital in Mexico. His luggage included the plans and scale model of his amusement park, which was then called the Children’s City.
“I explained my idea [to my boss],” says Xavier. “She reproached me: ‘You’re playing with a tiny business.” But Xavier was given six months to start up his company without losing the chance of going back to his old job.
He never returned. The company he founded in 1997 changed its name to KidZania and today it has 24 parks in 19 countries, including Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Kuwait, the Philippines, Turkey, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan, India and Russia.
Ten years after leaving his job at GE, when KidZania was already operating in Dubai, his former boss at GE sent him a photo and a message: “I’m sure this is your project. Good for you for leaving GE!” López Ancona says.
“Actually, it wasn’t the only time they turned me down. I never imagined that it would be so successful and I feel very proud.”
Soon KidZania will open 13 parks through the franchise model to which it owes its global expansion. They will be in Costa Rica, China, the United States, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, France, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
“Today we promise three things,” he says. “To make KidZania more entertaining, more educational for children, and more profitable.”
Both entrepreneurs want to continue growing. López Ancona will test his model in markets like the United States and China, and will try to bring visitors closer to the professions of the future in alliance with the major brands that help to generate the experiences in the parks. By the end of this year, Kinesis, a park that specializes in health and sport and the entrepreneur’s big bet, will be ready.
Crystal Lagoons is also expanding in the United States, where it has 21 projects under construction. They will develop their turquoise-colored lagoons that will be open to the public; and they have new lines of research and development open to bring drinking water to the people who need it.
Crystal Lagoons is an international innovation company, founded by scientist Fernando Fischmann, which has developed a patent-protected technology that allows the construction and maintenance of unlimited-size crystalline lagoons at very low costs.