Chile, a secluded country that until recently was rarely a topic of discussion especially in the digital tech world, is now attracting a lot of global media attention for its efforts to modernize and become the regions tech hub.
I migrated to Chile to explore what opportunities this young but promising ecosystem had to offer. I reasoned that there are likely to be more opportunities for an entrepreneur in a startup ecosystem that is still in its infancy in a country that is off most people’s radar. This proved to be true. In 10 moths, I met an amazing technical co-founder and we founded Fundacity, raised $170,000, were sponsored by the government for a 5 week mentorship program in Silicon Valley, became a financial advisor to successful Argentine startup Taggify, co-organized one of the first Startup Weekends in Chile, co-organizing the first Junior World Entrepreneurship in Chile and this journey took me on business trips across 4 continents. This, for someone so new to this industry, would not have been possible anywhere else.
Chile’s most prominent initiative is undoubtedly Start-Up Chile. Start-Up Chile is indeed, in my opinion, a success story. $40k non-equity non-loan grants for 100 promising startups handpicked by Silicon Valley experts has attracted the attention of the global tech community and notable news reporters including CNN, Economist and Tech Crunch over the last 2 years. Applications to Start-Up Chile have surged from 300 applications to 1500 from 50+ countries over the past 2 years. The quality of the startups has also followed suit.
Support for Startup Chile is not unanimous. Critiques point out that an overwhelming majority leaves Chile after the 6-month program. Whilst this is true it ignores the impact these international innovators make when in Chile. Startup Chile requests that each of its incubatees earn “RVA Points” (Return Value Agenda) which is a mechanism for entrepreneurs to give back by spending time spreading their knowledge in the community through organizing events, workshops, presentations, hackathons and forming communities and groups. Start-Up Chile is artificially creating an ecosystem that is inspiring, enabling and educating Chileans about Start-Ups and bringing this concept closer to home. Chilean entrepreneur Diego Izquierdo, co-founder of Fundacity, told me,
“We all thought a startup is only something you can do if you are in the USA.”
Fact: this is not the case. Fact: more Chileans today than previously are launching startups… Part 2 to follow