Startup Chile: Week 1

The first week of Startup Chile is now complete. Here is a (not so) quick breakdown of what this induction week entails.

Day 1

We met at the CORFO offices on the 2nd floor of Avda Moneda 921. For the first 20 minutes or so the new batch of entrepreneurs hung about outside the auditorium getting to know each other. Then the doors opened and we all trooped in to help ourselves to tea, coffee, water and biscuits and find some seats before the morning session began. I tried to live blog this over Twitter but the connectivity in this office was so bad that I was forced to give up early on.

First up, Jean Boudegar, Executive Director of the Starup Chile program gave us a 30 minute talk about why Startup Chile has been created and what is expected of us while we are here in Chile. He explains that Chile has one of the strongest economies in South America but it is isolated from most of the rest of the world by both geography and history. The purpose of Startup Chile is to create an international network of ideas and talent to bridge the isolation between Chilean talent and the rest of the world. This will in turn help Chile towards it’s goal of becoming the Latin American hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Ultimately the goal of the program is for one of us alumni to become a $1bn company and change the Chilean entrepreneurial environment.

Next up, Felipe Costobal (or Yeti as he is known) got up to introduce us to the Startup Chile team and their roles. After a short coffee break, we had a introduction to Startup Chile from the entrepreneurs point of view from Ahn Murray of EV Social and George Cadena of Aeterna Sol. They told us about the awesome meetups that they have been involved with (including the Girls in Tech group that Ahn set up which I am trying to get involved with), where to visit and the different places to live around Chile, and how to get the best out of the program.

We then got introduced to the concept of Tribes in Startup Chile. Tribes are groups arranged around particular business interests of the companies within Startup Chile. The idea is to provide a network and links between companies with particular interests and to help assist making connections with businesses in Chile with similar goals. Each tribe leader got up to give a speil about their tribe and after we got the opprtunity to talk to tribe leaders to help decide which tribe we can belong to. At this point I felt that companies with multiple members had it better here. Only one tribe can be joined by each team member, but if your company’s interests spanned tribes and you had only one member, you had to pick just one, and could not belong to more than one. Especially as the Finance tribe was designed to help you get funding for your business! After much consideration I decided to join the education tribe as that is primarily the focus of Tiny Ears.

That signalled the end of the first morning, and the end of the talks. After the talks there was time to network with companies, and a whole bunch of us (I think it was about 20 in the end) all trooped off to lunch together to get to know each other more. After lunch, those of us who had signed up to get our Chilean IDs on the first day headed to the second Moneda office to start that process. You can find out more about the Chilean ID process here.

After obtaining our temporary ID’s, we met Jon & Anna for dinner and then headed off to a party held by one of our batch.

Day 2

Back at Moneda 921, a another morning of talks. The first talk explained the Return Value Agenda (RVA) that is the way of measuring what we give back to Startup Chile. As a Startup Chile participant we are awarded US$40,000 for no equity and a chance to live and work in Chile for up to a year. In return we are asked to spend some of our time organising meetups, holding conferences, giving talks, forming communities and groups and generally sharing our knowledge & networks with the Chilean community. Each of these activities are awarded points (if we get them pre-approved first!) and to complete our contract with Startup Chile, we must have earned 4,000 RVA points before we go home. The RVA system seems to be a very good way of ensuring that entrepreneurs don’t just come out here and take what they can without giving Chilean society any value for their money.

The rest of the morning was spent hearing from each of the different departments of Startup Chile, the PR and Communications division and the finance/reimbursement division, to give us an idea of who we should go to for which things. Lastly, a couple of Chilean entrepreneurs came to tell us about Chile, it’s people, culture and geography to give us a better idea of what Chile has to offer. One thing I did not know was that Easter Island was Chilean and that is was so close. I am definitely going. I bet the diving around there is awesome.

The afternoon of the first day was spent filling out forms for Banco Edwards Citibank, the bank that we decided to open an account with. Reimbursements can only be paid to accounts in one of 2 banks., Banco Edwards and Scotiabank. We had been recommended Banco Edwards by a number of the other startups on the previous round so we decided to open an account with them. The process was slightly disconcering, involving 2 different colour pens (blue & black) and certain parts of the forms that must be filled in in specfic colours. Also, we were asked only to sign the various parts of the forms, with the details to be filled in later by the Banco Edwards staff. I think this was so that mistakes were not made in filling in the forms but it was slightly worrying none the less. We also had to provide photocopies of our passports and our temprary Chilean ID, plus at least 5 different places where we had to put our finger prints. I’ve been fingerprinted in Chile more times that I have in my entire life before!

That was the end of day 2, and we headed home to prepare our pitches for the first of the pitch days the next day.


Day 3

Pitch day 1. 5 minutes to pitch your company to the rest of the group at CMI, the third of the Startup chile offices, in Providencia. I live blogged this on Twitter so won’t bore you with it again. I shall transcribe my twitter stream in another post. Pitches went on until 11:30 and the rest of the afternoon was free.

Day 4

Another morning of pitches. There were far more pitches on this day. Again I live blogged it. This time pitches went on until 1:30pm. The room got very, very hot and I was glad I brought some water. As it was I ended up feeling quite ill for the rest of the day. After lunch I headed home and spent the rest of the day preparing for my business meeting with Universidad de Chile on Friday morning.

Day 5

 At last, an induction free day. Startup Chile (SUP from here on in, I’m sick of writing it), runs pitch training every Friday at the CMI office and many of our batch signed up for this for the next day. We signed up for a pitch training day in February as we are not really at the pitch to investors stage yet.

Day 6

 SUP Picnic. We’re off to that when I finish writing this post. A nice picnic in Parque Bicentenario with the other SUPers. Then a party afterwards. I love sunny days, warm nights and friendly people. So far SUP and Santiago has been utterly awesome!