Since arriving middle of July, I get asked fairly often, “How has Start-Up Chile been?” Rather than answering repeatedly via email, I’ll answer once in more detail here.
Start-Up Chile prides themselves as being the largest and most diverse startup community in the world, and I’d say it’s true. The Santiago community is certainly a major selling point. Regardless of your interests, there are always people to hang out with and activities or meetups to attend. Those that have traveled (or moved) abroad, know that what you want upon arrival in a foreign city is a friendly face (as I’ve written about on Tnooz). That absolutely exists for anyone in the Start-Up Chile community arriving in Chile.
The long term consumer win we are going after with Horizon? Mirroring that community on demand, for every city in the world across every trusted community. The starting point is enabling that for anyone in the Start-Up Chile community.
Obviously, we are building a travel company. The community has been helpful to us as the 1st test community for our private hospitality exchange concept, but it would be more helpful if there was a larger focus on connections within the travel industry. I wrote a separate post about Start-Up Chile’s opportunity to be the leading global travel accelerator, assuming they can execute.
Prior to leaving, I was told by several past alumni to ensure we have very clear business goals for our time in Chile - otherwise we’d get sucked into the social scene, party our asses off, and get nothing accomplished. After 4 months here, I can say that is indeed valid advice. There are multiple entrepreneurs that fall into that trap (but not us). I think the argument can be made that the community is too heavy on social, and not enough on true business success. Yes, connections can, and do, make or break businesses & require in person time, but there is a fine line between a healthy amount of networking and being too “social”. The social scene is certainly a distraction for those who let it be.
Santiago has a great transportation infrastructure, and is fairly safe (though one of our laptops got stolen this week). The metro is one of the best I’ve experienced anywhere in the world (and it’s not expensive like metros such as Washington DC), and buses around the country are reliable, affordable, and efficient. That said, being modern is as much a downside as an upside from my perspective. Aside from the lack of English being spoken, Santiago could easily be just another major US metropolitan city. Part of the fun of traveling, is experiencing very different cultures - and I feel like that is missing in Santiago (but not the rest of Chile such as Valparaiso).
$22 million Chilean Pesos (roughly $35k) in seed capital, without having to give up any equity is obviously a good deal from an entrepreneurs perspective. It covers cost of living for your team, and adds a little bit more on top.
That said, there is little tech investment money available in Chile. From my perspective, the biggest downside to the program is NOT being in the US where investors are. Raising money from angel investors betting heavily on YOU without looking them eye to eye and convincing them you can execute to beat the odds, is beyond a difficult proposition.
It’s government money, so there is bureacracy related to getting the money reimbursed/approved. Others have already written about this, so I won’t re-hash the obvious; participants are forced to spend some of their time dealing with the paperwork and approval process rather than growing their company.
For those with an early stage company (or even idea), willing to pack up your life, and fly halfway across the world for $35k - I highly recommend you apply to the program. Feel free to Tweet or email me (drew at horizonapp dot co) with any specific questions.
Do you believe unlocking travel opportunities matters?