About Miklos Grof

Miklos is the CEO and co-founder of Fundacity. Fundacity is making startups investing easier. Fundacity already supports all the notable accelerators in LatAm in their startup selection and management and they are expanding rapidly across Asia-Pacific and Europe. With the recently launched Fundacity Investments Clubs it seeks to simplify the startup investing process in emerging markets and make it accessible to more people. Miklos has unique and extensive experience in start-up formation, business development and venture financing. He has raised and evaluated investment offers in venture capital from angels and VCs from three continents for a variety of deals. He thrives at launching businesses and making sales in new geographies. Miklos currently serves as a financial advisor and mentor for various start-ups including Taggify (an online contextual advertising company based in New York and Buenos Aires). At Taggify, Miklos advises on fundraising, financial reporting to the board of investors, tax filling and cash flow management. Miklos completed his MsC in Finance at the London School of Economics and previously worked in corporate finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London, fund sales at UniCredit Vienna and economic research at Erste Bank Budapest. He is a Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW, Institute of Chartered Accountant England and Whales and is quinti-lingual. He is passionate about startups and entrepreneurship and spends his free time engaging with the startup community.

Austrian high-net-worths should invest into startups

Austria, a country associated with high standard of living, skiing, snitzel and somewhat conservative attitudes has over the last few years taken large steps in creating a startup ecosystem of its own. In fact, several of my high school friends are now actively working in startups or with seed investors in Vienna.

Today, I was pleasantly surprised that Bank of Austria head, Willibald Cernko is calling Austrian high net worths to invest into startups. He states that not only can they make a great return and help Austria generate new jobs but also help Europe in its growth.

Wise words Willibald! Keep rocking!

Article (in German): Reiche sollen Start-ups fördern – futurezone.at.

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El Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum Santiago

El Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum Santiago: ¡Dos días exitosos que inspiraron a  200 jóvenes a cambiar el mundo!

Santiago, Chile – Los pasados 27 y 28 de septiembre tuvo lugar el Junior Word Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF), un foro mundial de emprendimiento que se organizó por primera vez en Chile en la Facultad de Economía y Negocio de la Universidad de Chile. El evento reunió a 200 participantes durante dos días de charlas, talleres prácticos, un concurso de pitch universitario y eventos de networking.

Los oradores excepcionales, expertos en emprendimiento y sustentabilidad, compartieron su experiencia y aportaron su visión sobre el tema del evento: “Emprendedores – Navegar el cambio para un crecimiento sustentable”.

Los momentos fuertes del JWEF Santiago incluyeron:

  • El discurso de apertura de Nicolás Shea, fundador de Start-Up Chile y ASECH y CEO de Cumplo. Presentó una charla inspiradora y motivacional sobre la “nueva revolución del emprendimiento” recordando que “liderar el cambio es la tarea más difícil” pero es lo que hace evolucionar el mundo.
  • El discurso de apertura del segundo día por Juan de Dios Carvajal, gerente de emprendimiento CORFO, quien subrayó los desafíos de emprender e innovar para Chile.
  • Los discursos apasionados e inspiradores de Horacio Melo, Director Ejecutivo de StartUp Chile y Julián Ugarte, Director Ejecutivo de SociaLab.
  • Un panel de expertos sobre sustentabilidad, introducido por el keynote del experto John Rosser. Compartieron sus visiones y consejos para integrar la sustentabilidad en sus emprendimientos el Dr. Pedro Vera Castillo, Vanessa Kolodziej, Thomas Kimber y Daniela Jara.
  • Charlas que inspiraron a la audiencia a emprender por José Ignacio Oñate (coach y CEO/Fundador de PRO+SPIRIT), Christian Reyes (fundador de +People), Roberto Ibáñez, (Fundador de Touch) y Francisco Saez (Fundador de Nixter).
  • Un concurso de pitch universitario con representación de la Universidad de Chile, la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, la Universidad de Concepción, la Universidad de Antofagasta, la Universidad Católica de Valparaíso y la Universidad San Sebastián. ¡Enhorabuena a los ganadores, tres estudiantes de ingeniería comercial de la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, con el proyecto SlidePick!

 

Los organizadores Planet Expat, Fundacity y la Facultad de Economía y Negocio de la Universidad de Chile quieren agradecer por su colaboración a Startup Chile, Touch, SociaLab, ASECH e ImaginaChile; y por su generosidad, a los patrocinadores del evento: Amazon Web Services, Coca-Cola, Santiago Streaming, Qonf, UrbanStation y Redbull.

De estos dos días memorables, se destacaron nuevas ideas y recomendaciones reunidas en un libro blanco. Los organizadores del evento Sophie Vurpillot (cofundadora de Planet Expat) y Miklos Grof (fundador de Fundacity) serán los embajadores de Chile durante el World Entrepreneurship Forum y traerán la voz del país hasta Singapur los próximos 31 Octubre-2 Noviembre de 2013.

Ojala esta edición del JWEF Santiago sea la primera de una larga serie de eventos exitosos inspirando a los jóvenes a cambiar el mundo y a impactar positivamente Chile.

jwef

Fundraising and Startups in Chile Part 2

….following on from Part 1… Internationally, Chile’s tech scene is thought to mainly consist of Startup Chile. However, I discovered there is more to Chilecon Valley than meets the eye. Arriving in Chile, I was bewildered at the multitude of incubators, accelerators, co-works and tech events that this relatively small country has to offer. Almost every university now has an incubator or accelerator. Co-works are sprouting across Santiago. There are several tech events every week in Chile. 5 years ago tech Chile virtually did not exist. The high growth rate in the ecosystem can be seen and felt even over the short time I lived in Santiago. The environment has been expanding massively.

The ecosystem is not without its problems though. There is a lack of angel and VC money to followup the incubator seed cash. Thus startups usually use capital to flock to the US and establish and fundraise there. Failure often means they join the so-called Latin American Zombies.

Angel funding in Chile is scarce but not absent. There are two prominent angel groups Southern Angels and Chile Global Angels. Their members are moderately active. Chile Global Angels, with 27 members, has screened 400+ startups, funded 13 startups and allocated $1.8m over 4 years. By Silicon Valley standards this is miniscule. What the ecosystem needs is more entrepreneur turned investors that have successful exists behind them. This requires time but Chile is heading in the right direction and must, as prominent startup guru Brad Feld preaches, take a 20-year view from today.

Venture Capital is its infancy and heavily reliant on Corfo support. There are roughly 4 active VCs. One of the most active VC, Aurus, has made roughly 10 deals and the fund size is 30m. The reasons for this is probably the lack of institutional investment into this asset class. This is hard to change in the short run as capital is controlled by a wealthy subset of Chileans and they are conservative since their wealth derives from traditional assets such as commodities and real estate. On this front one can observe moderate change as the younger generation from these families is drawn by the trendiness of the startup world and even the Old Guard is showing interest.

Probably the greatest allure of Chile is its stable and strong economy that is growing in a steady and organized manner. Corruption levels are amongst the lowest in LatAm and the government and lobbies such as ASECH, are improving the business and legal environment removing the layers of bureaucracy that typically make starting up a painful process in LatAm. Recent victories include free incorporation and ability to incorporate your business in 1 day.

Whilst Chile is no cheap place to live it is significantly cheaper than US or European tech hubs and tech labor costs are significantly lower. Engineering talent can cost as little as $1,500 per month. In San Francisco, it can cost a minimum of $6,000 per month to hire an engineer if you can even find one at all. However, the downside is that Chileans are less likely to know what a startup is and are usually highly risk averse. Thus it will take a lot more effort to recruit a quality team.

So is it all hunky dory? Looking closer at the fundamentals that this young and vibrant ecosystem is built on, one soon discovers that there is a single prominent fertilizer nurturing this rainforest. Corfo – the government body, which is mandated with promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Chile. Corfo for the time being is the life support that all noteworthy incubators, accelerates, VC and events rely on. At present, absent this, the ecosystem would likely fall to pieces like a deck of cards. The upcoming election in Chile is causing some unease regarding the continuity of the program which was implemented by the current ruling party.

Another issue is the lack of smart money. Whilst Corfo cash is fantastic it is not yet accompanied by professional mentoring. Incubators and accelerators manage the funds on behalf of Corfo. However some say that they do little but select and allocate third party capital. This is falsely creating influential ‘investors personalities’ in the community that lack a significant investor or entrepreneurial track record. The lack of sufficient skin in the game is not sustainable and Corfo is aiming to change that over the next few years.

Chile is doing a great job at attracting fresh talent into the country and laying the foundations for what could be a flourishing and sustainable global tech hub. My advice: one should consider Chile as a place to start-up.

Fundraising and Startups in Chile Part 1

ChileChile, 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.

20120904-start-up-chile-logo

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 startupsPart 2 to follow

The JWEF for the first time in Chile!

Since February I have been helping organize the Junior World Entrepreneurship in Chile. This will be the first year this event is also represented here and I am really excited about that. I am amazed to see how quickly and steadily Chile is growing as a tech hub in the region. More and more international tech events are being hosted here such as Startup Weekend, Angel Hack and Lean Startup workshops and now the JWEF. CHi CHi Le! 😀

Below is the press release of the JWEF that I would like to share with you guys. Hope to see many of you there.

JWEF

El Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum: ¡el Foro Mundial de Emprendimiento Juvenil llega a Chile por primera vez!

Santiago, Chile – Por primera vez, Chile acogerá el Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, un encuentro de envergadura mundial que conecta a emprendedores y estudiantes con el objetivo de consolidar el posicionamiento del país como un atractivo polo de emprendimiento a nivel internacional.

Este evento es la versión junior del World Entrepreneurship Forum, un foro global y exclusivo que favorece el emprendimiento y reune a todos los actores claves del ecosistema emprendedor. Desde su creación en 2008, el World Entrepreneurship Forum representó más de 75 países creando así una comunidad poderosa a nivel internacional. Con más de 150 artículos de prensa en 35 países en 2012 – Forbes, The Times of India, etc. – el World Entrepreneurship Forum ganó un reconocimiento y una famainternacional definiéndolo como un evento excepcional e único.

Ya representado por 18 paises del mundo con más de 10.000 estudiantes, el Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum permiterá aumentar la presencia de los emprendedores chilenos a nivel mundial, y promover y fomentar el emprendimiento juvenil en Chile. También permitirá a Chile traer su visión e ideas nuevas durante la 6ta edición del World Entrepeneurship Forum que tendrá lugar en Singapur los 31de octubre/02 de noviembre.

Gracias a un esfuerzo conjunto de dos Start-Ups internacionales – Planet Expat y Fundacity – y con el apoyo de Start-Up Chile y ASECH, este evento tendrá lugar en la Universidad de Chile en Santiago los próximos 27 & 28 de septiembre. A traves de una serie de actividades – talleres, charlas y concurso de pitch entre varias universidades – estudiantes y jovenes emprendedores tendrán la oportunidad unica de intercambiar, compartir conocimientos y generar ideas nuevas alrededor de un tema común: Navegar el cambio para un crecimiento sustentable.

Dentro de los 20 oradores que van a marcar presencia en el evento: Nicolas Shea (fundador de Start-Up Chile & CEO de Cumplo), Juan de Dios de Carvajal (Gerente de Emprendimiento de Corfo), Dr. Pedro Vera Castillo (Director Programa EMPRENDO, Universidad de Concepción y Presidente de EmprendeSUR), Horacio Melo (Director Ejecutivo de Start-Up Chile).

įCuandó?: Los 27 y 28 de septiembre de 2013
įDónde?: En la Universidad de Chile, Santiago
įQué?: El Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum
edition/
Contacto para la prensa: Sophie Vurpillot, sophie@planetexpat.org

What would attract you more to work for a start-up?

The Startup Ecosystem of Porto Alegre – Brazil

I was working in the cafe of PUC unviersity in Porto Alegre waiting for Gabi to finish work when someone approached me to ask if I was involved with a startup…he noticed the Startup Chile sticker on my laptop…that is when I realized my stay in Porto Alegre can be much more productive then I thought.

In this brief encounter I learnt that Porto Alegre is hosting the most significant Free Software (and culture!) community meeting in Latin America called FISL! Nice!

This discovery prompted me to research the startup ecosystem Porto Alegre has….I typed http://www.LinkedIn.com and after a few location targeted searches aimed at tags such as ‘startup’, ‘investor’, ‘venture’ and ‘entrepreneur’ and some IT and Venture Capital related industry filters Porto Alegre appeared to me in a whole new light. HELLOOO OPPORTUNITY. I drafted a short message and set out to connect with every player in this ecosystem and followed new connections with longer emails asking for a meeting.

Within 24 hours I had meetings with GuapoCRPEngageWOW and Paradoxa. Yesterday I had 1-2 hour meetings with all with the exception of Paradoxa as the founder is in San Fran (meeting is scheduled for next week). My head is spining with everything I learnt and the interesting contacts I made here.

Guapo is a VC fund now also focusing on early stage startups but previously mainly did M&A and later stage investing. The co-founder and partner Fernando is a very knowledgable and open person that is very passionate about what he does. He said with Guapo they are now also investing into early stage startups even ones without business plans. Feedback on Fundacity was great and I feel it is a start of a very fruitful relationship. During the meeting he picked up his phone and recommended accelerator WOW to meet me and test our deal flow platform. I overheard him say Fundacity was “muito legal” 😀

From Guapo I rushed to Engage. The meeting with Guapo overran and I was late. I apologised prefusely to Felipe the co-founder of Engage. He comically said,

“You are not late. A wizzard is never late!”

LOL. I entered another world. I was surrounded by 20 and 30 something guys and girls that were currently eating and chatting away about life pursuits. I was given plate and free grub (entrepreneur dream :)) and joined them and they explained to me the concept of Engage. They are an incubator of people. They hold workshops and nurture individuals and help them explore and realize their potential. It is certainly very interesting. Felipe is very keen on alternative education and philosophy in various form. An inspirational fellow.

Engage and WOW co-work space
Engage and WOW co-work space

In the same building I stumbled upon WOW and I had a quick meeting with Bruno the COO. They are currently shortlisting their first batch of startups to accelerate. Not a bad timing for us 🙂

Journey to CRP
Journey to CRP

From their quick cab ride dropped me at CRP. They are a serious VC and M&A firm. I was greeted by 3 sharp banker types. A quick reminder of a previous life…They are looking for a serious deal flow platform but are not sure about the expensive European and US firms that include EfrontRelevantilevelNavatarAnalytxSanguard andVantage. For about an hour we discussed Fundacity and whether it could provide a MVP product for them and an enormous cost saving.

In each meeting I learnt a great deal about how these very different investors in ventures manages their deal from sourcing to closing. At a superficial level it sounds very different but at the core the principles are all driven by a need to manage internal communication, information (files and comments) and progressing deals through stages.

Fundacity is looking to make deal flow management easier for the startup investors using Kanban principles and clever UX/UI. We are involving our clients and listening to their pains from the very first line of code. We want to become experts in the process our clients do so we can understand and help solve their problems. I think every startup should do the same.

The message of my experience is that opportunities are everywhere. It pays to keep your eyes open. Never lose your passion to pitch and learn from clients. That is what will make the difference between success and a silent demise. Everyone in the startup needs to understand the target user and be able to see through their eyes and visualize the user stories.

Porto Alegre from the office of CRP
Porto Alegre from the office of CRP