A look into Chile’s startup ecosystem

July 12, 2018

In retrospect, my trip to Chile was fantastic. Although flying over 30 hours from Hong Kong and dealing with jet lag was difficult, the adventure was worthwhile, and I learned a lot outside of the classroom. The tour was full of intelligent and educational discussions; I learned a lot about the startup ecosystem, B-corporations, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

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The startup ecosystem in Chile is the most wonderful thing there is. During my visit, I learned from the presenters that Santiago is the sixth-largest VC centre in terms of dollars raised. With its proximity to Brazil, a huge market, it is ideal to start doing business in Latin America. Brazil and Argentina account for 82 per cent of total values, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the regional ecosystem. Many successful startup tales, such as Mercado Libre, Despegar.com, and Arch Daily, imitate successful business models from other nations or are world firsts. Despite their remote location, Chilean firms like Lunna, Bluesmart, Poliglota, recorrido. cl, and destacama have a strong international presence. The growth of Chilecon Valley, thanks to government help, has convinced me.

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One thing that struck me was the discussion about B-corporations. The concepts of social impact and sustainability are concepts that I agree with. Meanwhile, when I have the opportunity to speak with the General Manager of a Venture Capital firm, I find that he is a practitioner who places a premium on making money as rapidly as possible and becoming commercially viable. He has an interesting take on B-corp, believing that it puts the cart before the horse and balancing both the “B” and “corp” sides is difficult. I agree with his response because it reflects my own experience with the difficulty of developing a long-term company model.

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As a result of my reflections, I’ve discovered that the primary cultural difference between Chile and Hong Kong is the inhabitants’ entrepreneurial spirit. Most graduates in Hong Kong hope to find secure work with a good income and a regular paycheck. In Chile, however, only 12% of people were self-employed in 2008. The government of Hong Kong provides limited assistance for the startup scene. Most of Hong Kong’s GDP is concentrated in financial services and real estate, with little diversification. Still, the government of Chile invests heavily in the startup Chile program, which supports two out of every ten enterprises.

In contrast, despite Chile’s economy being primarily reliant on copper, the government has invested extensively in importing entrepreneurs to diversify the economy and improve people’s quality of life in the long run. Hong Kong’s culture is more risk-averse than Chile’s, which is more concerned with failure. Accepting failure is a choice, and failing quickly is the most effective way to learn.

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I’d want to start a business in Chile and have applied for a one-year visa under the Startup Chile program. Following my engagement with Fundacion Mi Parque, I’m considering launching a company that specializes in technical consultancy for non-profits (NGOs). We live in a digital world where technology is used to revolutionize and disrupt the traditional industry. Many NGOs, however, may not be able to afford to have an IT staff construct their website, mobile app, or customer relationship management (CRM) tools due to a lack of resources. If I could secure government money and donations, I would assist those NGOs in establishing an online presence, allowing them to reduce the cost per donation and have a greater influence in making the world a better place for us. It would, in my opinion, be a viable business concept.

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One of the key reasons I pursued an MBA was finding a solution to balancing technology and business. I always feel technology itself is merely a tool, but not enough to solve problems. It necessitates a mix of project management and cross-sectional skills and the capacity to scale business execution. I learned that Chile ranks 37 in service exports given the speakers’ remarks, with IT accounting for 28% of the service export industry. Chile is ranked 7th in the world for digitization, with the best programmers. I see a great chance in Chile to create an IT consulting firm and connect with the Hong Kong startup community. I’ve gained a new viewpoint as a result of my international experiences in Chile, and I’m continuing to look for an answer

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Experience in software development, application architecture, and deploying cloud solutions for enterprise customers. Strong hands-on skills with a Master's degree in Computer Science and business acumen with a master of business administration (MBA) in Finance. Certified in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes (CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA) and Scrum (PSM, PSPO) with experience in building banking products from scratch. Connect on Linkedin

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