First, let’s talk about Startup Chile advantages and challenges:
- Encourage local Chilean people to become entrepreneurs.
- International teams are contributing to build a first class Startup eco-system.
- The increase attention from global entrepreneurs, media and investors was a wakeup call to all Chileans that they are capable to change the status quo and become the leading destination of innovation in South America.
- Attracted many speakers and brilliant minds around the world to help achieve the new Chilean dream.
- Attracted back some of the local talents that migrated to pursue their dreams on other parts of the world.
- Startups from abroad usually leave after they spend the 6 months required.
- The success of the program in recent years doesn’t guaranty success in future years if Chile doesn’t have a competitive advantage other than giving up money for free.
Now, I never been to Chile, I wish I did when I was in Uruguay, but based on what I read and based on Steve Blank’s visit in 2011, these are the major takeaways from the Chilean experience in building a startup ecosystem:
- Even small programs with small budgets can have big impact in the entrepreneurship community
- Having international teams helped to contribute in shaping a high quality startup ecosystem
What needs more work?
- Small Business versus Scalable Startup: there’s a confusion in both the Government and Universities about the difference between small business entrepreneurship (startups designed to be family businesses,) scalable startup entrepreneurship (startups designed from day one to scale big inside Chile and then expand globally). To learn more about this check one of my first posts in this blog.
- There is no focus in a specific field: Entrepreneurship and innovation in what field? Where will Chile establish technical and innovative leadership? Is the only way they will attract talent by paying entrepreneurs to come to the country? Or will students and entrepreneurs come to Chile because it is one of the best places in the world for innovation in certain specific industries (pick your favorite – alternative energy? materials science? food science?
- Lack of connection with big enterprises. Check my suggestion on how to solve this problem here.
- Lack of Venture Capital and Angel investors
In short, we can learn from Chile that a small initiation like Startup Chile (with less than US$30M investment) can make an amazing impact in fostering entrepreneurship and startup community. It’s not about money, it’s about the Ecosystem.
Related post: Let’s learn from the Angry Birds