Startup of the Week: A Folding Phone By Pablo Escobar's Holding Company

The phone is being sold by models, guns, and cash.
Ashwin Rodrigues
Brooklyn, US
Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 10
Image: Escobar, Inc.

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The pitch

Many people have an overachieving elder sibling that we’ve worked our entire lives to get out from under their shadow. For this reason, we relate to Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, younger brother of Pablo Escobar.

Roberto is the founder of Escobar Inc., and the company’s latest product is the Escobar Fold 1, a folding smartphone.


The marketing campaign behind the Fold 1 is focused on Russian models, including Miss Playboy Russia of 2017, flaunting the gold and bendy device. Frankly, it’s an odd choice to market the phone with this photo of two models biting the Fold 1 while both have guns pressed to their heads.

Gaviria is the founder of Escobar, Inc. which is the same company behind the $250 flamethrower, which the company alleges Elon Musk stole to make his Not a Flamethrower. At this time, the Escobar, Inc. CEO, a 26 year-old Swedish national named Olof Gustaffson, teased that it was starting a $50 million tech company to take on Apple.

The Fold1 is a $349 foldable smartphone, and as Gizmodo reported, this is not a new device. It appears to be a Royole Flexpai.

VICE asked Gustaffson if the Fold 1 is a rebranded Flexpai, to which he responded, “Royole Corporation is one of many corporations which we shared our initial idea of this phone concept with, and tried unsuccessfully to launch a phone similar to ours. It can not be re-branded if it was our original idea. I am not in a position to comment further on this at this time due to our lawyers considering legal action.”

What problem does this solve?

Gustaffson said its phone is meant for “anybody who wants a tablet within their smartphone, for a price less than half of an iPad and a third of the price of an iPhone.”

When asked what makes Escobar Inc. equipped to take on Samsung and Apple, Gustaffson said “they are scared of us.” Gustaffson claimed that on December 4th, Samsung “called one of our friends decided to launch a $850 foldable smartphone” (Bloomberg reported on Samsung’s plan to make this phone in September.)


Gustaffson also noted that Apple sells a $1,000 computer stand, which is absurd, “but what is even more absurd is that people pay $1,000 for a computer stand. So Mr. Escobar figured that we can easily beat Apple.” He is not wrong, there.

Though Escobar Inc. is new to the phone space, this is not their first folding product. The company’s last big splash was “Diet Bitcoin,” which launched on March 24, 2019. This cryptocurrency, according to Garviria, was created because the US government created bitcoin, and once the public finds this out, the CIA will sell all its bitcoin and the price will be destroyed. The current price of a Diet Bitcoin is $0.000100 USD.

When VICE asked Gustaffson what happened to Diet Bitcoin, he declined to comment.

Who is giving them money?

Escobar Inc. is the official holding company for the very famous drug cartel boss Pablo Escobar. So, uhh, decades of cartel money is funding this smartphone. The coffers of Escobar Inc., are dripping with blood, and if you think that’s an unfair summary, the bio under Gaviria’s picture reads “Former accountant and chief of assassinations of the Medellín Cartel.”

What are The Experts saying?

“Now, half-blind and half-deaf from a letter bomb that went off close to his face in prison in 1993, Roberto [De Jesus Escobar Gaviria] has dreams of becoming a smartphone maker by following in the footsteps of Samsung with its Galaxy Fold.” -CNN

"The device is hardly the kind of foldable hardware you’d want to buy, and it was somewhat expensive to order when it launched about a year ago." -BGR

“The fact this phone exists is pure chaos energy.” -Gizmodo

"I have survived many assassination attempts and kidnappings. I am very experienced in survival and security protocols." -Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, founder of Escobar Inc.

Should you buy it?

This is an aspirational purchase, one that provides a direct connection between you, the consumer, and the holding company of Pablo Escobar. If you are a fan of the Escobar brand, there is only one choice. If you’re abstaining from the Fold 1 for moral purposes, that’s fine, too, but just remember your iPhone is made in part with child labor in Africa, and the infamously horrid conditions of the Foxconn factory in China. There is no ethical consumption under capitalism, just varying amounts of blood. Also, the phone bends!