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Chile in Summary

July 6th, 2012 No comments

This Sunday Ian and I are leaving Santiago to go and spend 3 weeks in Buenos Aires in Argentina. We return to Chile for only 10 days before we leave for 2 months in San Francisco. I just thought I would write a quick post about the things that I will and will not miss, and the things I wish I had done. I’ll probably keep updating this as I think of things, but this is what springs immediately to mind.

Things I will miss

  • SUP staff
  • SUP participants
  • Cheap, awesome wine
  • Cero San Cristobel
  • The summer weather
  • Lots of easily accesible running tracks with exercise machines
  • The Jewel of India
  • Watching sunsets over Cerro San Cristobel from our living room
  • Jazz at Thelonius
  • Salsa taught by Ben

Things I will not miss

  • The dogs
  • The car alarms
  • the winter weather
  • the lack of heating in winter
  • the lack of air conditioning in summer
  • the smog
  • having to talk Spanish every day
  • the food
  • Coming home from the pub stinking of cigarettes.

Things I wish I’d done

  • Visited Puerto Varas, Temuco and Pucón
  • Visited Atacama
  • Learned more Spanish
  • Spent more time in Viña del Mar
  • Spent more time at the Santiago Makerspace
Categories: Personal, Startup Chile Tags:

My first reimbursement process – An Assessment

March 20th, 2012 8 comments

I finally received my first reimbursement payment on Tuesday. I’d  decided to leave off blogging about this until I’d actually got the money. I had no idea at the time that meant I’d end up writing this post over 1 month later.

I set aside a whole day to get together the documentation for our first reimbursement. For the first one, you have to provide a bunch of extra documentation, such as rental contracts and photocopies of your RUT. There is 1 spreadsheet that you need to complete with 2 tabs, one to document your involvement in RVA and the other to show your expenses. For each row in your expenses you need to fill out the following:

  1. Recipient
  2. Category
  3. sub category
  4. description –  a full description of the item
  5. currency – the currency that it was originally purchased in
  6. cost – the amount in the original purchase currency
  7. exchange rate – the exchange rate between original currency and Chilean Pesos on the day of purchase
  8. document number – the number assigned to the supporting documentation

For each row in the spreadsheet you must supply the invoice or receipt for the item. If you paid cash outside of Chile then the receipt must clearly state what the purchased item was, the amount and that it was paid cash. Inside of Chile then cash receipts must also contain your name and your RUT number.

If the item was paid by direct bank transfer or debit card then the receipt must contain your name. Remember that the CORFO contract is with you, the individual, and not your company so receipts with your company name on only will not be valid. You must also provide proof that the money left your account, so a bank statement showing the same entry is also required. If you’ve made a purchase in Chile, again remember to have your RUT number placed on the invoice or receipt.

If you have paid by credit card you must supply, along with the receipt or invoice, a copy of your credit card statement showing the purchase, PLUS proof that you have paid off the credit card debt. This means a statement showing the card paid. At this point it is worth noting that proof that you have paid the minimum payment is not enough. There have been reports of credit card payments being refused because the whole outstanding amount of the card has not been cleared, therefore it could be argued that you have not actually yet paid for the item you are claiming.

The reason why these proofs are required is, as mentioned before, proof that you are being reimbursed only for stuff that you actually have paid for. This means that items you have purchased but may not yet have utilised, i.e. flights, conference tickets, hotel rooms, cannot be claimed until after they have been used. This is so that they do not reimburse you for something like a flight that you then cancel and get a refund for.

After I had got my documentation together and filled out the spreadsheet I had to send it to my account manager, Konrad. I had to get it to him at least 24 hours before the appointment we had made in order to go through the documentation. In this meeting I took Konrad through the spreadsheet and documentation and he checked it to make sure it was OK. He also asked me about how my business was going, what I had been doing for RVA and generally checked up that I was actually working and not pissing my grant away. He gave me some things to clarify, I went away and fixed them, then he signed the spreadsheet off and  I sent it to the reimbursement people.

10 days later I received an email stating that they were going to reject 85% of my reimbursement. I was very grumpy. A meeting was made between me, Konrad and the reimbursement manager for the next day and I had 24 hours to get my stuff together.

It turns out that if you have a business account and the statements for that business account do not contain your name, only your company name, even if that company name is the same as the one you are in Chile running they will not accept it as proof unless you can also prove that you own that bank account. Initially I thought that a copy of the confirmation letter from my bank thanking me for opening the account would be enough, but it turns out that it is not. Eventually I ended up having to provide copies of my letters of incorporation stating that I was the sole director, plus a letter from my bank stating that I was the signatory of the account before they would accept any payments that I had made out of Radical Robot’s bank account. I was not best pleased.

However having provided these proofs and after explaining a few of the complexities of what I was reclaiming, I got approved for 95% of my claim. I went away happy being told that I would receive an email confirmation and repayment within 5 days.

8 days later I wrote and mentioned that I had received neither confirmation letter nor payment. I received no answer.

10 days later Ian wrote and asked where his reimbursement payment was.

4 days later Ian received a reply saying that they didn’t know.

1 day later Ian got his payment.

4 days later I got my payment.

I never received confirmation of exactly how much the reimbursement was or when it would be sent.

But, I did get my money in the end. It was not as much as I had hoped, but it covered almost everything I claimed for. I learned a lot and feel I am in a better position for my next meeting. Tips I have for anyone going through reimbursement are:

  1. Always provide more proof of purchase than you think you’ll need. You can never have too much
  2. Don’t rely upon anyone applying common sense to the process. Mark everything as clearly as possible and write detailed descriptions if you think it’s confusing.
  3. The reimbursement guys speak no English. Do not rely upon them bothering to translate your invoice in order to find out what’s going on. You may need to find a friendly Spanish speaker to do some translation on anything that is not obvious
  4. NEVER EVER give over original copies of anything. Always provide photocopies. You will never receive anything back and if they lose something and you no longer have the original you’re screwed.
  5. Do not rely on anyone reading anything, including emails.
  6. Unless you have something confirmed in writing, do not assume that they have not forgotten about it.
  7. If you hear nothing for ages, pester, pester, pester.
  8. Put your name on absolutely everything. And your RUT if it relates to something bought in Chile. If buying something in a shop, ask the cashier for a Factura and hand your RUT card over. They should be able to sort you out, even if it takes a while (about 20 mins in Falabella from memory).
  9. Anything that is rejected due to lack of proper documentation can be reclaimed in a later reimbursement if you have subsequently found the required documentation.

Education Tribe

February 28th, 2012 No comments

Here at Startup Chile there is a concept called a Tribe. These tribes are groups formed around general concepts, like Education, Software Technology, Enterprise Software, Finance etc. The idea of the tribe is to provide support, connections and events to assist people whose companies are based around those general concepts. Every Tribe has a leader and every 3 months the group votes for a new leader. You get 1000 RVA points for being a tribe leader. I belong to the Education Tribe.

A few weeks ago the voting happened, and I put my name forward to become Education Tribe leader. Low and behold, I was voted in and am now in a position of power.  Little do they know what they’ve let themselves in for. Mwahahahah.

So now, I have responsibility. I have to organise meetings once a month with the tribe and have set myself a number of tasks that I must complete before the end of the 3 months is up. There are also an extra 500 RVA points up for grabs for the most successful tribe leader. Not sure if I have the time to compete for that one, but the intention is there.

So, the three things that I promised to do for the tribe are as follows:

  1. Create a stronger sense of community with better connections between members for free sharing of ideas and support
  2. To run events to make it easier for the local education community to hear about the startups in the education tribe
  3. To create a directory of educational institutions that wish to work with Startup Chile members.

To put all of this in motion, today I wrote to UNESCO here in Chile asking if they would be interested in meeting and talking to some of the Startup Chile education companies. I am also writing to a number of the Spanish language schools to see if they would like to form partnerships with the language learning Startups. I am hoping to run an event that will showcase the companies to the local education community and potential investors in education technology. I’m hoping I’ve not bitten off more than I can chew!

Mobile Phones

February 21st, 2012 2 comments

At last we have Chilean SIM cards. This took a longer than expected. Here is everything we know about acquiring a Chilean SIM card.

  • You can buy, from the moment you get here, prepaid SIM cards without having to have a RUT number (Chilean ID). These SIM’s DO have data, contrary to what many people may tell you. We were told a number of things, such as you needed your genuine RUT, not temporary RUT to get a SIM, that you can get prepaid calls only but no data without a RUT and that you can just walk into any store and pick up a prepaid SIM anytime you want. As far as we can tell, it’s the latter that’s true.
  • To get a SIM on contract you need to have a Chilean bank account. This is so that you can pay the monthly fee online. They cannot set up a direct debit. This is apparently unsafe. You have to remember to log in to the website, get your bill and pay it every month.
  • Movistar are the only mobile provider that gives short term contract lengths. Ours is for 6 months. They also have ‘special’ packages for Startup Chile members. However Movistar are not always the cheapest or most reliable network so many people have gone for other networks despite the longer contract lengths.
  • Once you get your Chilean bank account, and you want to go with Movistar, you have to arrange a time to meet with the Movistar representative. The first name we got given was for a guy who was on holiday, and even when he returned he told us he was the wrong person. We then talked to the right person who gave us incorrect information as to when she would be at CMI to open the contracts. Eventually we coordinated the right person on the right day in the right place, and we got our SIM’s within half an hour. It’s easy when you know how.
  • To get your SIM card contract you need the following items, a photocopy of your passport, a photocopy of your Chilean ID, a photocopy of a blank cheque from the chequebook for the account you are paying the subscription from and CLP$3990.00 cash.
  • If you have an iPhone, after inserting your new SIM, you must reset all your settings before you can make & receive calls outside of the Movistar network.
  • 1 week after receiving our SIM’s Ian still cannot receive texts of phonecalls from outside Chile, although he can make international calls/texts. No resolution in sight at this time.
  • For both my mini-SIM and Ian’s SIM, we cannot get more than an edge connection on our Androids. At this time we are not sure why, but we think it has something to do with the frequency of the Movistar mobile signal being incompatible with our UK Android devices, i.e. 850Mhz. Again, no solution in sight at this time, but I shall update this post when/if we have an answer.

La Escuela de Español

February 21st, 2012 No comments

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for an intensive Spanish language course at Escuela Bellavista. Since I arrived I have been listening to the Michel Thomas Spanish Audiobooks, hoping that this would be enough to get me by. In recent weeks it has become apparent that it is not enough. This is for two reasons. The first is time. Oddly, finding 1 hour a day to take out to listen to an audiobook is very hard. It’s always pushed to the bottom of the list of important things that need to be done and then, when you finally have time, it’s the end of the day and you’re too tired to learn. Secondly, although the audiobooks are really fantastic at teaching grammar, they do not give you the two most important things for learning a new language, practice and decent vocabulary. Oh, and more practice.

So, off I trotted. The intensive classes are 4 hours a day, every week day, from 10am to 1:30pm. No English is spoken during the lessons, and there are a number of after school activities that you can sign up for if you have the time. The course is, as it says on the tin, intensive. On day one I was convinced that I was in the wrong class and asked to be brought down a class. The teachers refused saying I was good enough for the level I was in (basic 1b) and, as the week went on, I started to agree with them. On day 2 I was less confused, day 3 I started to understand a lot, day 4 I understood everything and by day 5 I felt we were going too slowly! My Spanish improved so much during the week that I signed up for a second week. In fact, on Friday when Ian and I went wine tasting, not only was I confident enough to conduct whole conversations in Spanish, I understood an awful lot that the Spanish speaking somellier was telling us (although not enough to translate confidently for Ian!). This week I was promoted to basic 2a, for which I was proud.

If you’re coming to Startup Chile and you want to learn Spanish I suggest that you do so within your first month. For all the progress that I have been making in my Spanish, I have been struggling to get everything that needs to be done for Tiny Ears completed within the remaining time. Intensive language courses are exhausting, and trying to do an 8 hour work day after a 4 hour Spanish class is enough to wreck anyone’s head. Within the first month, while you are still getting your feet under you, is I think the best time for this. Once you settle in to your projects it becomes a lot harder to fit the Spanish classes in, and this week I have been finding it more difficult to concentrate on the classes knowing that there is so much work left to do.

But I am also getting a lot out of being able to speak Spanish. I am making some friends with some of the Spanish students and I am far less stressed when we have to take a taxi, eat in a restaurant, go shopping or basically do anything that involves interaction with non-English speakers. And believe me, not many Chileans speak English so having some handy Spanish skills is a definite plus.

After this week I will stop the Spanish classes, but I shall be attending the engliSH spaniSH meetUP that runs here every Tuesday evening so I keep practicing my newfound Spanish skills.

Categories: Personal, Startup Chile Tags:

Next Startup Chile Applications Start March 19th 2012

February 9th, 2012 No comments

The next application round for Startup Chile starts on 19th March 2012 and closes April 3rd. Coincidentally I will be back in the UK to attend NSConference, have some meetings with Tiny Ears collaborators Persistent Peril, Mind Orchard and Edable and to attend the wedding of my good friends Dan and Rachel.

I will be free between 22nd and 29th of March. If  anyone reading is in the UK and thinking of applying to Startup Chile and would like to meet and chat during this time about their application, or just to ask some questions about what it’s like out here in Chile, please do email me. I will be based in Mortimer near Reading during NSConference from 19th-21st and could meet in the evenings, otherwise I will be in the Brighton area and would be happy to commute to London or anywhere within easy train ride of Brighton to meet.

Also, if anyone during this time would like me to do a presentation or talk on Startup Chile, and/or Tiny Ears, please also get in touch.

 

Being a Sole Founder is hard

February 6th, 2012 2 comments

Before we arrived in Chile, and in the first few days after getting here, we were told by previous round entrepreneurs not to expect to get much done in our first month here. But there is a plan, I thought. I know exactly what I need to do. Of course I’m going to get loads done in the first month.

Wrong.

There are a number of factors for this. First is the highly stressful situation you live under for the week or two before you leave home to come here. Those two weeks were total write-offs for me, although Ian and Kyran managed to get a lot done. For them it was easier I think as they had a deadline at the end of January that they had to meet, therefore no matter how crazy, busy and stressful it got, they had to work. For me, however, there were no deadlines set so soon after arrival and so I became consumed by the process of visa obtaining, flat rental, car selling, packing and moving out of our flat. That’s OK I thought. There will be lots of stress-free time after we arrive for me to get on with some work.

Wrong

The first 5 days were simply spent reacclimatising, getting over the stress of the previous 2 weeks and getting our bearings in Santiago. The next week was a whirlwind of induction activities and social & networking opportunities. The week after there were a number of activities to get involved in and I spent a lot of time trying to get over my feeling of helplessness by teaching myself Spanish. Last week, was picking up Chilean ID’s, arranging meetings and RVA activities (I co-organised my first Girls in Tech Chile last week), networking, opening bank accounts and trying to get hold of a Chilean mobile data plan.

And before I knew it, 1 month is coming up. We will have been here for 4 weeks in 2 days time and that thought frightens me. Our time here suddenly feels perilously short and there is such a lot to do. To say that I have been wasting my time here would be wrong. I have been dealing with Universidad de Chile sorting out our Speech Recognition systems. I’ve been trying to get hold of the right person in CORFO to talk to about grant applications for the university. I’ve been coordinating my disparate team of fellow Tiny Ears collaborators and coming up with a plan of action from here. I’ve been reading an enormous tome dedicated to speech processing and a number of associated research papers. I have been reading and teaching myself the iPad game development & animation skills that I will need to develop the project. But in comparison with the productivity that I would have achieved had I not been here it’s not enough.

That is not to say that being here is worse than being back home. Not a chance. It just takes time to get used to being here, to fit yourself into a new routine and a new way of life. Those that I have seen making this transition well have been those with teams larger than one. They are able to help focus one another and they seemed to have created their new routines much quicker. Us sole founders with no local team members seem to be finding it a lot harder not to be cast adrift on the change of environment and the wealth of new opportunities.

I am now starting to gather a routine together. I wake in the morning, go for a run, have breakfast and then either set up work at home or make my way into town to CMI for the day. I am starting work at around 11am daily. The morning is spent catching up on correspondence and doing admin. Lunch is around 2pm. The afternoon is spent either programming, learning, reading or designing depending on needs. Come 6pm I stop do my hours Spanish learning then I pick it back up and work through until around 8 or 9. Dinner is between 9 & 10 normally and then I try and relax for the rest of the evening.

This routine is easily disrupted however. When at CMI there are people and meetings and chats to get involved in. There are events in the evening that start between 7 & 8, and the city is so large that it can take over an hour to get somewhere. I am having to learn to be far stricter with myself during the working day than I used to be. However, the meetings chats and people are often of incredible value. Tiny Ears is being presented as an example of a disruptive education technology this Thursday at an event down in Concepción. Sadly this is a little too far to go just for an evening, but it good that we’re getting some coverage already. Tomorrow I am being interviewed by the BBC (as are a number of other high tech and AI based startups) and I have made friends with some very well connected people who are eager to help however they can.

This afternoon is the first meeting of a new group of entrepreneurs who are meeting to discuss the particular problems around being a sole founder. I am hoping that from within this group I will find support, tips and advice about how to deal with the loneliness and lack of support that you get as a sole founder. If you have any advice about being a sole founder then I will gratefully receive it. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Tiny Ears Update

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Well, the first week of Tiny Ears here in Chile has gone pretty well. We’ve had a meeting with Professor Nestor Becerra-Yoma and his team at the Speech Processing and Transmission Laboratory at Universidad de Chile and their software seems to meet our needs well and we are now trying to come up with a deal whereby we can use their software whilst trying to find funding to allow them to enhance it with all of the extra bits that Tiny Ears requires.

There will, no doubt, be a post to come whereby I detail all the fun and games to be had trying to find funding here in Chile, but I think what is there presently will be enough to provide a good enough prototype with which to secure funding. Yet again I am wishing that  I was able to find a co-founder to help me with these business matters as I would far rather just concentrate on building the product and leave these other consideration to someone else, but I guess that’s what a startup entrepreneur is, someone willing to dirty their hands with all the jobs that need doing.

On that basis, and with that weight lifted from my mind, I am ready to start working on the storybook itself. I will be getting in touch with the various loosely organised Tiny Ears members who have agreed to work on the project and try and get everyone together on a Skype call to discuss what needs to be done. Now that the Speech Recognition part is at least partially resolved then all the different members of the team who I had been putting off getting overly involved due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the meeting with the Universidad de Chile. I really feel that Tiny Ears can start to move forward with purpose now.

Startup Chile: Week 1

January 21st, 2012 2 comments

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!

Categories: Startup Chile Tags:

Obtaining your Chilean ID

January 18th, 2012 No comments

Yesterday we were taken by the Startup Chile staff to get our temporary Chilean ID’s. Your Chilean ID is very important to your stay here because without this you cannot get a bank account (& therefore cannot be refunded your money), a mobile phone contract (for which you also need a bank account) or get a PAYG Data SIM (you can get data free SIM’s though). It is therefore important that you get this done as soon as you possibly can before you arrive. Little did we know that if we had gone to the SUP offices as soon as we arrived we could have done this earlier, but you live and learn.

Before we arrived in Chile we were asked to sign up to a list for whether we wanted to get our ID’s on the Monday or the Tuesday. Our batch has over 200 people in it, so this was a good idea to get the numbers down. I recommend you try and get in to the Monday group. For us, Banco Edwards came to sign up people for bank accounts on Tuesday afternoon while the remaining entrepreneurs went to get their ID cards. By being in the Monday group it was quicker and easier to set up a bank account as there were less people trying to do the same thing at the same time.

So, Monday was induction day 1. At the end of the morning induction talks, and after lunch, we all met at SUP’s Moneda office to get our Chilean ID’s. After our passports & residency visas had been photocopied, we were taken back out of the offices in 2 groups. Obtaining your ID is a very long process so I highly recommend that you get yourself into the first group to leave. We were then shepherded down to the Chilean Police offices where we showed our visas and passports, paid 800 pesos and were awarded a Chilean International Police Check certificate.

With our police check certificates in hand we traipsed en-masse to a photocopy shop where we paid 50 pesos for a photocopy of the police check certificate. We were then led to the Civil Registry office to get our temporary ID’s. At this point, get yourself to the front of the group. We hung around at the back, and by the time we realised we had to put our names a sheet of paper to denote the order in which we were seen it was too late and we ended up 21st, 22nd & 23rd on the list – of about 30 names! You then get to hang about watching the other people head in and out of the office getting their ID’s ahead of you.

At this point it became pointedly clear that if things continued in this manner then the end of the list would not be reached for about 1.5 hours and there was still the second group yet to turn up. The strategy changed and we were then asked to provide our parents names on our passport photocopy and give it to Catalina, who filled in a form on your behalf. When our turn came (it was going much faster now) we took our forms in and got fingerprinted, both hands, on the back side of the form.

We were then asked to leave the room and wait. DO NOT JUST SIT DOWN AND WAIT TO BE CALLED AGAIN. This is what we did and after a while asked how much longer it was going to be. It turns out that what they really meant was wait in a queue to be called back in to have your form processed and photograph taken. Luckily we found this out after only a further 10 minute wait. For some people the word did not get through for some time and they ended up waiting to be called for up to an hour.

After your form has been processed and your photo taken & everything stamped, you have to pay 4,050 pesos and get given your temporary Chilean ID. We were asked to return to the Civil Registry office about a week later to pick up the real thing. One thing about all of the payments throughout this process – they really do not like giving change. Try as much as possible to give the exact money. At the police station especially they refused to take anything other than exact change which caused a few problems for some people.

We started the ID process at 2pm. We finished at 5:30pm. This will eat up your whole afternoon, so don’t book anything else that day. However, the ID process really seemed to bond many of the Startups and we ended up with a party to go to that evening and there was plenty of time to get to know our fellow participants.

More about the Startup Chile induction process to come, but for now I shall leave you as a legal entity in Chilean society.

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