This post first appeared on the Global Invest Her blog.
In 2010, Chile did not have a startup ecosystem and they felt that their economic growth was being stunted so their government decided to change that. The Chilean government decided to set up Start-Up Chile, a government-backed accelerator program with the ambitious objectives of creating a an entrepreneurial environment in the country and to position Chile as the innovation and entrepreneurship hub of Latin America - nothing less.
Rocío Fonseca, Executive Director in Start-Up Chile is proud to share their exceptional progress to date:
"We are proud to have accomplished our first objectives of creating a startup environment in our country and positioning Chile as a great place to develop your startup. Six years ago we were not even on the global map of the startup landscape. Today we are ranked number 16 in the GEDI index and the only Latin American in the Top 20. Our numbers show that we have also made an important economical impact in Chile. Not only have we proven that the program works, now other countries are copying our model, and that makes us very happy."
Excellent Economic Impact of Start-up Chile : a 4.39X return in only 5 years
- Start-Up Chile has helped over 3,000 entrepreneurs.
- 1,100 startups have gone through the program since its inception in 2010.
- Globally over 30% have raised capital. Up to July 2015, our startups had raised 135 million USD as reported by them (4.39 times the investment of the Government since the beginning of Start-Up Chile).
- Annual Sales: 20% of the startups generate sales reaching a total of $41.5million/year - 3.46 X times the investment made by the Chilean government.
- Out of 1,100 startups in Latin America, there are 334 operating in Chile now (32%). Of the total foreign startups, 10.3% remain in the country.
- Out of the 334 startups, 79% are still operating, 1% were sold and 20% died.
- The total value of the startups created by the program is425 million USD, with the top 5 valuations ranging from $75million to $100 million.
* (Data from September 30, 2015, source: Start-Up Chile)
Now, thanks to Start-Up Chile a true startup ecosystem has been born, with every main university in Chile offering its own masters in entrepreneurship and many start-up events and entrepreneurship festivals.
About Start-Up Chile
The Start-up Chile program, created by the Chilean government, seeks to attract early-stage high-potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups using Chile as a platform to go global. So far 15 cohorts have been through one of their 6 month programs, with a total of between 200-250 companies joining the portfolio every year.
3 different programs according to the stage of your program: (all in English)
- Pre-accelerator program focused on Female Founders, for startups at the early concept stage. There are 2 rounds a year of 20-30 companies each round.
- Selected companies get around14,000 equity free (10 million CLP) and are part of a 3 months accelerator.
- Accelerator program for startups with a functional product (MVP) and early validation. There are two rounds a year of 80-100 companies each round.
- Selected companies get around29,000 (20 million CLP) equity free and are part of a 6 months accelerator.
- Follow on fund for top performing startups that are incorporated in Chile, have traction and are looking to scale in LATAM and globally. There are 2 rounds a year of 20-30 companies per round.
- Selected companies get86,000 (60 million CLP) equity free, with that condition that they incorporate and open operations in Chile.
Who can apply - Conditions for all programs:
- Applications are open to any nationality, and past participants include teams from USA, France, Albania, Canada, even some African countries
- At least one of the founders has to settle in Chile and give back to the Chilean society through a social impact program that aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
What else do you get?
Besides the grants and co-working space, Start-Up Chile offers an acceleration program that includes:
- SUP Academy: Training program (workshops, talks, other learning experiences), Platoons (peer-to-peer mentoring) and Pitch Training
- Connections: Global and local mentors, investors and business networks
- Events: external and internal events (Demo Day and Tech Evenings)
- Experiences: Soft-landing and internal activities to prmotion networking and community building.
Inti Nuñez: Head of Entrepreneurship at CORFO (Chilean Economic Development Agency, part of the Economy Ministry) shares:
"As a public policy, Start-Up Chile has been successful in installing a renewed global vision in the national ecosystem, creating a new way to operate and powerful international networks. This has taken consistency in accelerating current startups from our country. Now Chilean startups have higher valuations because it is assumed that they scale to become more international companies. Start-Up Chile has contributed to increasing the potential of our ecosystem."
Why be part of this program?
Why would an American entrepreneur go to Chile to develop his prototype, coming from a much more developed economy and from an entrepreneurial ecosystem that offers more opportunities such as the one in the States?
"US tech culture has the money and the opportunities, but it's still really lacking in diversity - there's a lot of people attacking the same problems from the same direction. As a social entrepreneur, I'm looking to solve the kind of global issues that the market ignores - and sometimes Silicon Valley isn't the best fit for that approach."
How has the program helped you with your startup? Has it helped you raise money? Make contacts? Develop your product?
"We arrived in Chile with a simple prototype, little more than an idea, and in six months had a working product that was ready to help people. Being able to focus on our work in a competitive environment with other entrepreneurs from around the world was invaluable."
Is your focus on the Latin American market? Are you planning to stay in Chile or go back to the U.S to get more investment?
"We're an American company, but we had to be thinking globally from day one - there's no excuse for rushing around trying to figure out "the rest of the world" after the fact. We'll be launching in the US first, but it's clear that our biggest growth will be in other countries and languages that are in more desperate need of new health technology. I don't think that's an uncommon position for entrepreneurs to be in, and getting started here in Chile has really helped us understand the Latin American market better.
I'm still living here in Chile, and traveling back and forth to raise money and work with the rest of our team in the States. Location now is less about all of us needing to work in the same place, and more about being in places that allow us to work better."
The Focus for 2016:
"Our main challenge for 2016 is to offer our entrepreneurs an excellent training and strong connections with industry and investors. We have created an "Investor Club" which will improve interaction between Start-Ups and investors. We want to increase the quality of the program, continue to generate social impact throughout the country and of course, maintain and build on our excellent economic and social impact."
Rocío Fonseca, Executive Director in Start-Up Chile
Applications Now Open for the Seed Program: Closing date February 16th
Apart from equity free money, co-working space, mentorship, access to investors and networks, you can learn from multicultural teams and put down a foundation to developing your company in the Latam markets - there is a lot to be said for this program, in my opinion. There are many good reasons why this program is a global benchmark, so do check it out.
To Learn More about Start-Up Chile programs:
Watch Anne Ravanona's TEDx talk on Investing in Women Entrepreneurs.
For interviews with Trailblazing Women leaders on Huffington Post Read More Here
Follow Anne Ravanona on Twitter: @anneravanona