How Start-up Chile empowers entrepreneurs to get their idea out in the battlefield

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Start-up Chile-a program run by the Chilean Government that invites early stage startups and helps them bootstrap their ideas on the Chilean soil. had the pleasure of talking to Horacio Melo-the Executive Director of Start-up Chile Program. He spoke to us on how startups can benefit from the program and also at the same time how Chile can grow as the hotspot for startups.

 What is the history and vision behind Start-up Chile program?

Start-up Chile program is an initiative by the Chilean Government along with InnovaChile Corfo which is the Chilean state development agency. This program kick startref in 2010 by giving out foreign entrepreneurs a 1 year working visa and a grant of US$40,000 to establish businesses in Chile in order to boost the competitiveness of the SMEs and also will help Chile economy to propel forward. The end goal is to convert Chile into the innovation and entrepreneurship hub of Latin America and it is believed that that goal can be achieved by connecting entrepreneurs, linking them together with dynamic and diverse networks.

Has Startup-Chile joined the “Battle of the cities”? Where do you see Start-up Chile in the next few years?

Start-up Chile had been initiated with the goal to transform Chile into an entrepreneurial hub as I already mentioned above. And like other cities, we do harbor a vision to turn Chile into an innovation zone. Right from our pilot phase in 2010, Start-up Chile has been focussing on the goal of inviting 1,000 bootstrappers to the program by the end of 2014.

Apart from money, how does Start-up Chile help entrepreneurs?

First of all the money that entrepreneurs get is absolutely equity free and so the it aids startup financially. Apart from money, startups can work at their best with the one year visa. No comes the ecosystem factpr. Yes all startups in our program undergo rigorous sessions by taking part in local events, seminars, workshops and we also help them to raise capital from investors both local and international.

How do you think the Chilean ecosytem is beneficial to startups?

For a while now, Chile has been recognized as a quiet and politically stable country, compared to its neighbors. The country is just a few steps away from being a developed country, therefore quality of life is pretty similar to what you can find in the greatest capitals of the world. This is great as it helps our entrepreneurs stay focused on their business, and not be distracted with domestic issues.

We have a steady Internal program and here is a brief insight:

  • Tribes (10 tribes> Education, Finance, Social Media, Marketing- Advertising,
  • Tourism, E-Commerce, Hardware, Enterprise Software Technology,
  • Environment-Sustainability-Energy, BioTech). Bimonthly meeting by each tribe with 10 people attending aprox.
  • Lean Start-UP Workshops: Every Friday we have this workshop with 20 people attending. In one more week is going to be open for people outside of Start-Up Chile.
  • Pitch Training: Every Friday 4 people have the opportunity to pitch and repitch.
  • SUPdate: All Friday we do an Up Date where everyone can talk. 50 people aprox.
  • Padrinos Net.: Each entretepenuer have a Padrino, that is in charge of receiving at the airport and also help them during the first month in Chile.
  • 6 orientations days and integration activities

Start-up Chile has already gained momentum internationally with wide covergae in magazines like Forbes, The Economist, BusinessWeek, and TechCrunch. Our prgram has also been an inspiration to many spinoffs such as Startup America, Britain, Greece, and Italy.

SUP has organized:

  • 8 Corporate Meet Ups
  • Conversation with more than 10 different Institutions (Entel, Falabella, 3M,
  • Interclinicas, Masisa, Chilquinta, Banco de Chile, Sernatur, Du Pont, Metro
  • S.A.)
  • Activities in more than 7 Universities (Pontificia Universidad Católica,
  • Universidad de Chile, Universidad Finis Terrae, Universidad del Desarrollo,
  • Universidad Santo Tomás, DUOC UC, Universidad Federico Santa María, etc).
  • Four networking activities with Fundación Chile, UDD Ventures and Asech.
  • Mentor +45 local entrepreneurs

Start-up Chile also worked with some of the most sought after organizations:

  • Asech
  • Start-Up Arica
  • Atrévete Hoy (Concepción)
  • Faro Global (Puerto Varas)
  • First Tuesday
  • Sub 35
  • Techo Lab

On what grounds do you select applications from across the globe? What kind of startups do you invite?

Our criteria of the applicants are:

  1. Quality of talent and commitment of the founding team members,
  2. International market potential of the project, and
  3. Value of the applicant’s affiliated networks that will be injected into the Chilean entrepreneurship ecosystem.

We invite startups across all domains from software, music till biotechnology. We believe that any idea that has the power to disrupt can be the changemakers of the next decade.

The entire starup application process is run with the support of YouNoodle, a California-based company. YouNoodle offers a high end technology platform and is used by a hug enumber of start-up organizations across the globe.

How is the VC ambiance in Chile?

Start-Up Chile´s mission is to create a a cultural shift in the local ecosystem, favoring entrepreneurship. This environment includes not just startups, but investors and other actors as well. Regarding the VC and angel environment in Chile, I have to say that it exists but is not very active, partially because there were not that many startups to invest in. We believe that, as we have more and more startups in the country, investors will see there is an opportunity there and will be investing more actively. Actually, this change is already happening: we have a few successful cases were local VCs invested their money on startups that were beneficiaries of Start-Up Chile.

Vivek Wadhwa on Start-up Chile! Watch!

We believe in changing the world through innovation and we support this through our program. If you think you have an idea to change the world for good, join SUP. Apply!

Connect with Start-up Chile


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