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Start-Up Chile is OK. Nothing more. (liispeetermann.tumblr.com)
161 points by ragnarsass 1916 days ago | hide | past | web | 69 comments | favorite



Very well said. I particularly agree with the list describing the kinds of companies that can get the most out of Start-Up Chile.

It's critical that participants have the right expectations but Start-Up Chile create a huge amount of marketing fluff which seems to get in the way of that. Now they have had well over 300 participants I hope they start focusing on communicating success stories (there are a few) and the learnings (there are loads) rather than "the dream" and "the vision". Enough interesting things happened over the last 18 months that they shouldn't really need to use old school marketing techniques any more.

I previously commented about my recommended set of Start-Up Chile expectations here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3811445


I like the idea of Startup Chile. After reading this article, I still like most of it, except for trust issues.

I'm not in favor of video surveillance, but if I ran Startup Chile, I'd be adding some cameras all over the place. Maybe go to a badge system for building access and egress.

Not being safe enough to leave your gear on the desk while you go to lunch or something is a big red flag that something's wrong. You can't have an open and free environment when folks are having to padlock everything they own and don't trust the guy next to them not to walk off with their iPad.


I had my laptop stolen at the Startup Chile office and the Startup Chile team helped me get it back because of surveillance cameras. I am the only person this has happened to (at least from what I know). I think you can get things stolen in any co-work environment and there is no way Startup Chile can control this (other than doing what they already do).

If you are uncomfortable with the security aspect you can get an office for around $600/month (I am currently sharing an office with an Argentinean company and we split things $300/month). Our office is rather large (it's 3 offices, one bathroom and one kitchen).


The office spaces don’t have decent lighting and it’s not safe - you can’t leave your stuff on the table even for 5 minutes, a lot of it might get stolen - This sounds kind of crazy to be honest. As I'm front some deep places in eastern europe I wouldn't leave any of my stuff in any places. Especially considering the fact that the work on the laptop is probably more valuable than the machine itself. But this is a shared office space. You just wouldn't expect something like that to happen. And from my point of view - Startup Chile team helped me get it back - is not really much of an excuse. Did they just leave the door open? Or were the participants of the program just nicking stuff from each other?


Yeah, this is something I'd expect at the joint co-working offices more than the Start-Up Chile office itself. However, they do leave the doors wide open while people are working there. Anyone can wave at the doorman and take the elevator up to the office for a rummage around. The reception desk doesn't have a good view of who is coming and going from 60% of the office space.


> Especially considering the fact that the work on the laptop is probably more valuable than the machine itself.

I'd hope then that you are using proper backups, it's a lot easier to keep copies of your work remotely, than make a copy of a laptop.


There's also the intellectual property facet of this. Someone who steals your work could try and sell it to your competitors. This includes code as well as a list of your clients and your business plans.


If you are a developer and you have not encrypted your IP on a laptop you are going to leave by itself, well, your shareholders would probably be pretty disappointed.


>. I think you can get things stolen in any co-work environment and there is no way Startup Chile can control this (other than doing what they already do).

Sorta? My company incubated at StartX and we thought nothing of leaving our stuff on our desks while we left to do other things. The thought of having our things stolen was just unrealistic.


To turn tables round, not having to worry about my stuff left on the desk while working in a shared office is something unthinkable for me, as a Pole. Kinda envious.


The office is in Palo Alto, same building as AOL. Our company probably had some of the poorest people in a 2 sq mile radius. Yuppie-ville :P


Same building as AOL? What's the accessibility, curious? If there's card swiping security, it's not apples and apples.


To clarify the theft issue (I'm Round 2, almost finished here now). At the start the co-working CMI office was safe, we guess that no 'regular folk' knew about it.

Now it is better known and there's no access control (there are security guys on the doors, but they're not really checking us). Several times in the last few months different strangers have walked in, spotted a lone laptop and walked off with it. The same thing has happened in restaurants.

This is petty theft, a pity in a co-work environment but given that it is large and open this is somewhat unavoidable. I wouldn't leave my laptop unattended (without asking a neighbour etc) in a London co-work space either.

In general I feel very safe here (really, no problems walking home for an hour at night, using the metro etc).


They should implement Bait-Notebooks (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bait_car) with GPS, camera and recording everything.

Then just leave them there in accessible places and catch the thieves.


> Not being safe enough to leave your gear on the desk while you go to lunch or something is a big red flag that something's wrong. You can't have an open and free environment when folks are having to padlock everything they own and don't trust the guy next to them not to walk off with their iPad.

That just seems really weird... Is it other people in the program, or do outside people have access, or...?

Changing subjects, I hope someone will do an analysis of the whole program 5 years from now to see what the results of it are. How many companies came/stayed/grew/died/etc...


I'd love to see that. I think there are many useful things to pick up and re-try.

From reading the article, sounds like it's a free-for-fall. That's good: chaos is our friend. But it also sounds like (reading between the lines) people used political connections to free-ride and perhaps they didn't get a lot of traction that they could have had. Don't know, just guessing. I'm still extremely interested in the intersection of Agile/Lean and startup incubator/boot camps.


I hope someone will do an analysis of the whole program 5 years from now to see what the results of it are. How many companies came/stayed/grew/died/etc...

Good point. It would be also interesting to know how the perception of Chile has changed in entrepreneurial circles through this program. I think this is really a unique idea and so far it seems as they did at least an acceptable job of running it.


Hey stfu! .. haha.. im part of the program and i think it has changed the point of view of some chileans. By now i have done mentorship for two university students and im sure their life-path has changed.

One of them has already raised $16k (little but enough for a 2-months project).

The other one is still developing the project but at least is working on it :).

None of those guys was taking this seriously until they saw young people being part of Startup Chile program. This is just the people i have been in close contact with and im pretty sure there are lots of cases like this ones.


Very cool, that's really a great way of giving back! I really hope that this is going to have a sustainable impact for Chile. They definitely deserve it for taking such a unique way of stimulating an innovative environment. How do you see generally speaking the "sticking" rate? What percentage of people in the program are most likely to stay there for longer than just the time they got the Startup Chile financing?


Quick update today (Friday 29th) - I just spotted freestanding 'check in' finger print readers in the CMI coworking building.

My guess is that registered folk get to walk through and everyone else has to explain their presence. It should be a good deterrent. Photo: https://twitter.com/ianozsvald/status/218833445760139264


Well there are cameras in the office, but still, the house is open and somehow it still happens, unfortunately too often. There are some new lockers now and people watch each other's stuff, but in general you're hanging around with your bag the whole day. And getting a monitor into the office is just out of the question.


It sounds like a problem that could be solved by proximity cards. Has this been suggested to the CMI personnel? Is it something that they'd implement?

I am starting Startup Chile at the end of July and I am seriously considering a shared office space, due to many reasons (security being one of them)


I spent today (Thursday) talking with the Executive Director (Horacio) and a few of the senior staff members. I presented this morning on Lean Startup processes for the newly-arrived.

I'm in Round 2, I've been giving feedback for months to the staff. The feedback I got today about changes they're making during Round 4 (for those just arriving now) is pretty impressive. If they carry it all off then the programme will be improved by a fair margin for subsequent Rounds.

The improvements are still under discussion but ought to address many of the mentorship/fund raising/expectation issues that have been raised (at least - I have cautious optimism that that's the case).

Disclaimer - I don't work for SUP, I'm almost finished here in Round 2, I've had my complaints during the programme but generally they're reacting/improving to the significant issues. Things are improving for every new Round.


Horacio (exec director) today announced the changes that I'd hinted at yesterday (I didn't know this was happening when I posted yesterday).

Changes being rolled in: * Mentorship - try to provide mentors for all * Traction Groups - get companies to start and join private self-mentorship groups (based around the prototype I organised in this round: http://ianozsvald.com/2012/05/16/mentorship-groups-in-startu... ) * Roadshow in Silicon Valley - after Demo Days take companies up to the Bay Area and run an investment/demo road show * Academy - online & face to face courses for StartupChile members to learn about business basics (e.g. lean processes, pitching, sales etc) * Top 20 Accelerator - cherry pick a top set of companies and super-accelerate them (private mentorship, focus on growth etc)

I don't know the details of the above changes, the ideas will evolve and a lot of questions are raised. What interests me is how a lot of the current programme criticisms (e.g. lack of mentorship, DemoDay not being too cool, lack of peer mentorship) should be addressed (and then some).

As stated yesterday I'm not employed by StartupChile, I'm nearly finished with Round 2. As much as I've criticised the programme in the past I continue to be impressed at how quickly they're iterating and improving.


I don't agree with her list of companies that should apply to Startup Chile. For example, Startup Chile is great for bootstrapping companies. You get 6 months and $40.000 USD to test out your idea. You visit an amazing country and another culture. You can learn another language. Startup Chile is a great choice for people that are ready to make the jump from a boring job to starting their own thing.

And even if you are experienced doing startups it's still awesome to visit another culture and see how things work in another place. Maybe you won't like it that much, but at least you experienced it.

What Startup Chile isn't good at is creating companies that need VC funding or Silicon Valley connections. If your startup needs these things then don't look for it in Chile or anywhere else... because you won't find it here or anywhere else.


What he said.

Chile is an excellent place to test/bootstrap an idea. The $40K USD Start-Up Chile money makes it nearly risk free. This is the only promise of the program. Any other expectations are misplaced.

However, the reimbursement process is awful, does make for a considerable distraction from "real work," and should just be eliminated entirely.


Amen! Although the blogger also misses the most important benefit Startup Chile offers teams that are serious about fund-raising. Any fundable business coming out of the program is going to raise capital on much better terms than it would have been able to get previously. Those savings can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's always a risk that a company might fail to demonstrate enough growth or traction to attract further investment before its cash runs out, but that happens with every kind of outside investment. And the issue is with the business as it then exists, not with Startup Chile for funding an earlier version of it.


Don't you have to promise to hire people to get the $40K?


No, in the pilot round you got RVA points for hiring locals but they dropped that in later rounds so it is not even explicitly encouraged right now.


Nope. Of course they'd like you to incorporate in Chile and hire Chileans, but it's far from a requirement. In fact, it's not even something they explicitly encourage you to do.


I have to say that I don't really agree with the overall assessment made over here. It appears that a lot of people come to Startup Chile expecting the wrong things.

Why would you come to Chile and expect:

- There will be no bureaucracy (this is a government run program..)

- You won't have to give anything (RVAs) at all back - (equity free capital in return for what ? in that case..)

- Connections to US accelerators and investors (WTF ?)

To be honest, it's unrealistic to expect all of the above. I do agree that Startup Chile can do MANY good things (connections to latin american investors, more guidance/mentorship, etc.) but why not take into account the fact that this is a young program being run by a government in a country with very less startup experience.

Here are some positive points I've heard from people:

- Use government connections. Folks who have their startups in fields where government help can work eg. education, social service, etc. are able to uniquely utilize startup chile's clout in the government sector.

- Learn some Spanish.

- Do something relevant. You're hardly going to get support if you're designing a product that solves a problem in the US or elsewhere (with no possible extension into Latin America). Besides, why would a local investor be interested in that case ?

As for the part where filing statements, getting reimbursed, etc. - there's no need to whine about that. The processes have been streamlined a lot over the past few months and these guys seem to be working on it more, there is definitely good faith involved and it's not all "Oh yeah we're going to make them WORK for their money". They just need to be sure that your expenses are justified. I know of people who are trying to squeeze out an iPhone or two in their reimbursements. They naturally have to be very careful due to the fact that this is taxpayers money.

Furthermore, all the pains of startup chile are pretty well known. It is definitely not an accelerator, you will probably not have a lot of events and guidance. But, if $40k equity free capital and a reasonable amount of freedom (in how you use it..) are important to you - then sure, I think it's a program worthy of mention.

/ Just sick of all the whining that goes on about how Startup Chile doesn't connect you to the US blah blah blah.. -- why should it ? Also the sense of entitlement a lot of people carry is sickening. A lot of folks seem to treat startup chile as a 'gap year' and then whine about how they didn't manage to make the next $1B company (not saying that the author is doing this...). That's just messed up.


The main Startup Chile drawbacks are:

- they don't invest on you, instead they give you access to a grant

- there are no real investors backing the program

- there are no real entrepreneurs backing the program

- they don't know anything about technology

- nobody is thinking about getting rich except the entrepreneurs joining the program.

EDIT: Well actually there are local entrepreneurs too.


> nobody is thinking about getting rich expcept the foreign entrepreneurs.

What makes you think the foreign entrepreneurs are better than the local ones? I have not seen any such pattern in Startup Chile. In fact some of the best products (and teams) are Chilean.


I was under the impression that Startup Chile gives some preference/reservations to local teams.

In any selection process, any group that gets a boost due to irrelevant factors needs to meet a lower standard. Typically, a group of people meeting a lower standard will be inferior to a group of people meeting a higher standard.

Of course, if I'm wrong about Startup Chile boosting local teams, this reasoning wouldn't apply. Anyone know what their policies are?


In the first round no Chilean teams were allowed, second round they opened it up and now the rumor is they are moving towards more and more Chileans because, frankly, some foreign teams scam the system and go on a 6 month $40K holiday.


I don't think there is any reservation for local startups afaik.


Thanks for the write-up - really good to see more experiences of the programme.

We were offered a space to be in the same batch as you, but we kind of realised this would be the case before going. Whilst the money was attractive, the admin, the inflexibility on the length of the programme, and the fact it would be a distraction to actually launching our product meant we just stayed bootstrapped working from home.

Notably, the fact they don't give you the money up-front shows that they're not investing in your company (and that they have no interest in equity). You are going to be made to work for that cash - and that work is time not spent on your startup.

I'm confident we launched quicker this way - whether we would have made a killer connection to make or break our company through the programme, I guess we will never know! But it does seem unlikely from your review and the others that have gone before it.


I think the author's complaint that all of the beneficial events, connections, etc. came from the participants and not the organization is a bit misplaced. After all, the whole point of Startup Chile (as I understand it) is to provide exactly this kind of networking, resources, etc. from foreigners because it's not really available in Chile today.

That being said, there's really no excuse for having poorly-secured and lit office space.


One red flag- 100 working hours for getting all the paperwork done to get paid

Otherwise, I think the program is pretty clear about it's objectives from the get go. It's about bringing techies/entrepreneurs from all over the world to start businesses in Chile.

Expecting exposure to US investors is not fair I think. But the program should provide exposure to Latin American investors.


The 100 hours really surprised me. The rules are different for each round, but least for my team in the second round we have not had to spent that much time on it. We probably spent no more than 30 hours and that is generous. However I guess it depends on the type of company and the kind of expenses.

Overall I have found people's perspective on the program depend entirely on assumptions and expectations before they arrive. If you expect a suitcase of cash when you land, if you expect all the processes to be pre-arranged, if you expect to never have to deal with any bureaucracy, you will be in for a surprise. If you expect lots of opportunities to network and get connections, if you expect that the government will throw the odd curve-ball now and then, then SUP will be what you expect.


Me again (Round 2) - I spent 2 days doing the first reimbursement (following instructions, taking advice from Round 1 people) and then 1 day or less for each subsequent monthly meeting (including having the meeting). Write-up from a few months back: http://ianozsvald.com/2012/03/24/this-week-in-startups-stron...

All in I'd expect 1-2 days per reimbursement meeting (including meeting time), less as you get better at it, less if you reimburse just a few big things (rather than lots of small stuff). Cash payments require less proof (less paperwork) than debit or credit cards (CCs require most). That's about all there is to it.


    "I believe companies with the following would get the most out of Start-Up Chile"
This list is what Startup Chile should be using to vet its applicants to ensure that no startup comes away feeling the programme wasn't really right for them - it's a shame that people will go with one expectation, only for reality to be vastly different. It only harms their image in the longer term - even if the number of participants looks impressive at first.


I think the post author is right in the sense that Startup Chile is not for everybody, but I also think she was expecting everything to be provided to her as part of the program. I believe there are some good criticisms, like the one about office security (although, you should really get your own office, that's what the money is for), but most of it seems like unmatched expectations (she was expecting the same experience she and other members of her team had at american startup accelerators, and like she says, Startup Chile is not an accelerator/incubation program).

She also talks about not having access to mentors, and I know that is not completely accurate. Startup Chile has a mentorship system (godfather/godsons) in which experienced entrepreneurs help the teams participating in the program.

I was there for Demo Day too, there were two rooms with presentations. And even though they had some pretty bad technical issues at the room I was in, the whole thing there was in English (I can't say anything about the other room).

I hope that in spite of her disappointments, she had a good experience and that Startup Chile keeps improving in the future.


The "mentorship system" you've heard of isn't a mentorship system. When it works it connects you with a friendly Chilean that can help you by picking you up from the airport, helping you find accommodation, introducing you to other friendly locals and showing you around the city. They are generally no more experienced or connected than participants in the program. Sadly it works less than 50% of the time - most participants rarely see the "mentors" they've been assigned to.

They could be more useful to the startups if they were provided with some mentorship training and if there was some light-weight facilitation like YC's Office Hours to help it along.


I didn't know that there were mentors who were not experienced entrepreneurs. I have several (very successful and experienced entrepreneurs) friends, who are mentors for Startup Chile participants. They've advised these companies, hooked them up with important contacts for their businesses and even provided office space. I guess I generalized that to the whole mentorship system.


I guess it's luck of the draw. I don't envy Start-Up Chile's task of trying to find experienced mentors in Chile with time for 300 startups a year.


I think nico is talking about a CORFO program that I've only barely heard mention as a Startup Chile participant (someone else mentioned getting mentorship thru it, but I've never seen anything from Startup Chile on how we could participate).... while jot is talking about the padrino program.

So, two different groups of people.


I was actually talking about the padrino program and the people I know who are padrinos for Startup Chile participants.


This program is more than perfect for me. Point. I am from Egypt and can't find an investor to back me, so I am going to try this out.

Thanks for letting me know about it.


It's slightly concerning that the author talks about people being "green", but then complaining about having to manage bureaucracy, not having access to a ready-made network of experts & having to spend your last peso.

Isn't this just part of the life of starting a business?


No, in many countries bureaucracy is not part of doing business. Especially in Estonia where setting up a company or doing anything with the government public services, taxes, reporting etc takes a few minutes online and is never done on paper.


Yes, but when you start something in Chile you can't expect it to be like Estonia or elsewhere. ;)


Why not?


Because it's not in estonian.


And if this in Chile, it have to be big hassle? Fine, then entrepenuers will simply ignore this country. Simplez.


I think the point was that there would be some obvious differences in systems. That doesn't mean that they aren't improving their system - it just isn't at the same place as Estonia yet. Not so hard to understand - right ?


I just graduated from Startup Chile and the main change they should make is market themselves and Chile as the bootstrap capital of the world. Look at SUP as a bootstrap opportunity and things make a lot more sense.


Chile Government is very smart... they know that you will spend at least 60% of the money inside the country.. and there still a small potential to bring more investment into this, if you settle and get acquired!


The Round 4 application process was discussed here a week back: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4158967

It has discussion from Round 2+3 people on the pros and cons of the programme. Sidenote - I knew Liis (she's lovely), her concerns are echoed by others (including me). My take on the programme is nonetheless positive, you just have to come with eyes-wide-open.


The bureaucracy, Spanish, and lack of connections to US investors and entrepreneurs make it a lot less attractive.

I wonder if a US state or AU/NZ would do something similar someday. English would be a big advantage, and if they outsourced the management of the program, they could deal with the bureaucracy, selection, etc. a lot better.


I went to Japan 20 yrs ago on a scholarship and the moment I set foot on the campus I was handed an ATM card with ¥100k ready to use (~$1k), auto refillable every month.

I love Japan.


I went as a Monbusho scholar in the period 2004 - 2009 and this is not the case anymore. Nowadays you spend a lot of time filling forms and getting access to basic services like cellphones or Internet. They do give you around ¥160K these days...


A few years back, I was to go to Brazil on scholarship. Last minute, the US university mentioned they paid the money one month in...yet one has to pay at the start and Brazilian uni starts one month earlier than in US. Catch-22. Four months of prep, crossing T's and dotting I's and it all went down the drain.


My interaction with this 'team' came earlier, where I wouldn't email replies nor pertinent information even when forwarded by 'big names' (to get attention).

This only backs up my impressions and feedback from others.

As a founder you need a handful of crucial things (amongst so many including drive to succeed): - Capital - Mentors - Environment

Obviously there are more, but these are important.


Thanks for a nice post. However, I'm still wondering about the networking part of this program. Where were most of the participants from? Was it Latin America? Also, were there any interesting people to connect with from Europe/US?


Most of the people were actually from the U.S. (if I remember the stats correctly), many people from Europe, also from Latin America, but not many locals inside the program compared to the others. There's a lot of interesting people for sure! From all around the world!


It depends on the round, but I'd say overall the US sends the most number of people in absolute terms, but they are not the majority by any stretch. There is a good number of Canadians, Europeans and Indians too. In my round there was a strong contingent from Brazil. Also there are a fair number of 'internationals' - people who have spent years living outside of their home country. Its a broad mix of people with all sorts of backgrounds.


What kind of startup is willing to move to Chile for $40K? Two answers: startups that will benefit from being located in South America, and bad startups that have a really hard time raising a few thousand dollars and/or haven't thought through how moving several thousand miles increases their execution risk.


Just as a side-note I would like to mention that the Colombian government will soon start a similar initiative called "Apps.co"[0]; probably is going to be less attractive than Start-Up Chile but it haves to start somewhere. I would also like to mention that I am a Colombian developer willing to create a Start-up in this country; if that is also your case please get in touch (my email is in my profile).

[0]http://www.vivedigital.gov.co/appsco/ (Spanish)




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